Sunday, August 19, 2007

Essay 4343

As expected, the Gary Bentz perspective posted at’s Small Agency Diary (see Essay 4314) sparked some spirited discussion. An abridged collection of responses appears below. Click on the essay title above to catch all the comments.


I believe Mr. Bentz gets paid to “reach” U.S. Hispanics. Therefore, a more narrow vision or understanding is adequate. I aspire to be paid by intelligent Clients like mine to move, impact, engage, and persuade U.S. Hispanics. A deeper vision and understanding is required.

Tony Ruiz, Partner/Chief Strategy Officer, The Vidal Partnership


Have you read the opinion piece by Gary Bentz titled “Creativity Is My Culture—Why I Didn’t Open a ‘Hispanic’ Shop” in under the Small Agency Diary blog section?

The gentleman states in the blog that reaching Hispanics in language and culture is appropriate. He also agrees “Culture is not only defined by ethnic background, color of skin or language. It’s much more.”

These are the only points we agree with him on out of his whole opinion piece.

Mr. Bentz states he is from Puerto Rico and he defines himself not because of his Hispanic background, but by the fact that he has more in common with the average American than with Hispanics with a distinctly separate culture traits and language preferences.

Well, he is right!

Gary Bentz is probably defined by his $100K plus a year job, his education and the fact that he and his family do not live the average Hispanic lifestyle. He does NOT enjoy common ground with over 85% of all other Latinos or Hispanics in this country, because he has is a US citizen by birth. He probably did not live long enough to be impacted by true Puerto Rican culture and language on the island, he probably went to a prep-school in Puerto Rico or a school in the USA and studied at an American university and does NOT understand the lives of Mexicans in the USA or any Central & South American, for that matter.

His theory is based on targeting US Hispanics by the common values and traits they share with the average American, rather than by the traits and values that they have that are distinctly different. Those that define them as Latinos or Hispanics.

We can guarantee to you that the creative pieces he states he has created for such advertisers as Miller, Pepsi, Gatorade, Burger King, Verizon and General Motors did take into account the difference in culture, language and their non-typical values and traits that differentiated them from the average American. If not, they were not designed to target Hispanics in the USA.

How do Hispanics have more in common with the average American than their differences?

¡Por Favor! Have you been to a focus group lately?

Mr. Bentz is not the target of 99.999% of the Hispanic focused marketing plans in the works today at Hispanic agencies. So to use himself as the model for the correct prototype to target US Hispanics is erroneous and irresponsible.

Yet he states he is an expert in creating creative content to reach this Consumer Segment. He also discredits the value of a Hispanic Agency and their expertise, since he leads the readers to believe that they do not need to be part of the marketing mix. He portrays creative as the end all element that ensures success.

He does not give importance to the other aspects of marketing to Hispanics in the United States besides the creative discipline. Creative is not the end all of effectively and efficiently reaching Hispanic Consumers. What about the marketing and behavioral nuances of consumers, the media savvy and expertise required to ensure the proper points of contacts? Just to name a few elements he does not give any importance to.

¿Quien es Gary Bentz? As we say in Puerto Rico, “esta meando afuera del tiesto.”

Like with most blogs anyone can opine!

He exemplifies a movement within our Industry to minimize the importance of the Hispanic ad agency and the professionals that ensure that advertisers garner ROI from their ad investments in targeting US Hispanic Consumers.

Maybe the average Hispanic agency has moved a little slower than some clients and media outlets might want regarding a shift from a traditional Spanish only marketing model, but progress is occurring for inclusion of multi-faceted linguistic and cultural marketing models that represent the entire cross section of Hispanics in the USA. Even though Hispanic agencies need to continue to grow their expertise, their contact point models and their research capabilities. They are still the experts on reaching Hispanic Adults 18-49, Hispanic Women 18-49 and Hispanic Men 18-49. Core demos with buying power, along with the growing Hispanic 12-17 segment.

The problem here is blogs and pods, where any self-proclaimed expert states their opinions about any complex issue, in this case marketing to Hispanics. How more complex than that!

You also can find them speaking at the many of the seminars and conferences that flood our Industry. They muddy the waters.

If Hispanics are going to represent the majority of the US population by 2050, then instead of Hispanic focused agencies and so called experts proclaiming we have to become more generic “Vanilla” and emulate mainstream ad agencies and experts.

Maybe the reverse is true.

To effectively target the changing face of America, you need to become more of an expert on the art & science of Hispanic advertising to better serve your clients.

¡Basta ya! Let the real experts stand up and be heard.

So… ¿Quien es Gary Bentz? Obviously he has not opened a Hispanic Shop.

Gene Bryan (I am also from Puerto Rico and sometimes an expert in something), CEO


It all depends on what we do with the opportunity that is given to us to create advertising and messages targeted to Latinos. We complain about the box we are in and keep cashing in the check. Or while in that box we can expand it, open it up and make the point the box is no longer needed. But you need the work to do that. Not just words.

Mark Gonzalez, New York, NY


Mr. Bentz is right on! All too often, agencies, in their quest to connect with an “ethnic” target market, focus more on surface cultural cues than they do on the deeper insights, which may or may not have anything to do with the color of one’s skin.

I am a qualitative researcher and consultant specializing in the African American consumer market. I cannot count the number of times I have been asked for the “Black insight” and watched GM clients’ faces fall as I tell them that there is no such thing. There are countless sub-segments in the African American community and although members of these segments share a common culture, their interests, lifestyle and experiences impact them and the way they see the world as much as their ethnicity does. This is not to suggest that culture is not important. The reason that there are Black motorcycle clubs, Black wine clubs, Black mom support groups, etc. is that culture still plays a large part in our lives. But it isn’t the only thing that makes us who we are.

In my research, I’ve found that the ads African American consumers appreciate most are the ones that accurately reflect their full lives and experiences—not just their color.

Patricia D. Raspberry, Ph.D., Principal, Black Raspberry Consumer Insights, Chicago, IL


i’d intentionally tried not to weigh in on this one simply because i’ve been championing this and related issues for years now. but i couldn’t resist. still, i’ll add the following:

until current clients and current GM shops end the practice of marginalizing ethnic shops to sub-contractor status and degrading ethnic professionals by measuring ethnic cultures thru a mainstreamer’s view, then the creative culture of ethnic pros will continue to be stifled, to the detriment of the clients we’re charged with serving.

hadji williams, chicago, IL


There is a big elephant in the room perpetuating this stereotypical vision of Latinos: Univision. They have built an empire based on making clients believe that Spanish language media and “muy Hispano” pieces are the only way to go when targeting Hispanics. The big paradox is their owners and top management are mostly American and few of them even speak Spanish!

As long as they continue to drive the market, clients will approach the Hispanic market with a cookie cutter solution—“Prime time Don Francisco, novelas and make sure to add abuelitas and Mariachis to your creative so the ads are relevant.”

Gustavo Garcia—Miami, FL

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