I had the pleasure of seeing In the Heights on Broadway last weekend. While I really enjoyed the show and recommend it, what I took away from the performance is how I could completely identify with the characters.
That I was born in Colombia and raised in the U.S. -- and not a Dominican or Puerto Rican who grew up in Washington Heights-- but saw myself, my family and my upbringing in the characters made me think about the "Latino Cultural Identity" that we speak so much about, and its importance to marketing.
The pillars of Latino Cultural Identity -- the interconnectedness of time and space perception, interpersonal orientation, spirituality and gender perception -- we all clearly on display during the show.
It left me more convinced that while you don't have to be Latino to market to Latinos, you really need to understand Latino culture. General market agencies and companies that continue to focus on language and acculturation level as their main approach to marketing to Hispanics need to watch this show ASAP. Those that still insist they are "reaching" Latinos via English-language media because many of us are bi-lingual also need to watch this show ASAP.
What I hope they take away is that they can't identify with these characters at all. That they wish they took someone to sit next to them to answer their repeated questions of, "what did they say?" or "what does that mean?" That simply replacing the characters with Caucasians and translating the Spanish euphemisms to English will not make the show appealing to the general market.
Most of all, I hope they take away that there actually is something to this notion of Latino Cultural Identity, and they should pay some attention to it.
Labels: Hispanic marketing, Latino Cultural Identity