ElBlog: The loss of Home Depot is troubling. But it’s gone.

Editor’s Note: The following editorial appears in the April 5, 2010 HispanicAd.com weekly update. To view the original post, click here. To express your view or opinion on this subject, please do so at the bottom of this page.

As a non-Latino with 17 years of professional experience working in the U.S. Hispanic market, I find this week’s events in the marketing and advertising world disturbing.

Thanks to my desire to learn about Latinos in the U.S. – their likes, dislikes, media preferences, brand loyalty vs. non-Latinos, thirst for knowledge, empowerment and advancement – I bring a unique perspective to the table. I would like to think I have a Latino soul.  Or maybe I’m simply Pan-Latin at heart.

At any rate, I may be the «único gringo» that understands how devastating The Home Depot’s decision is to a fragile industry at a crossroads.

It has been stated many times over the last several years in White Papers and at industry conferences that by the end of this decade, more Hispanics will use English than Spanish as their preferred language of choice.

That’s not to say Spanish will be evaporating from U.S. Hispanic culture – it’s just that English will be more prevalent. U.S.-born Hispanics will outnumber the foreign-born Latino immigrant. Latino-flavored programming in English will be found in greater abundance on television, on the internet, on radio and in print.

Where does that leave Hispanic marketers?

Ready for the future, or lost in the past.

No longer can a client pitch focus on Spanish-language advertising alone when it comes to delivering the total Hispanic consumer audience. We’ve heard it for years. But what agencies are actually heeding this advice?

Creative Civilization stands out as one. San José Group saw some success with American Family Insurance. But then I have to think … really hard … about the other examples of general-market work from “Hispanic” agencies.

The next 10 years will be difficult for “Hispanic” agencies who continue to ignore the future, a world where “general market” agencies will only get savvier when it comes to Latinos and decide that having a wholly owned Hispanic shop is no longer cost-effective.

It’s coming. But how do we slow it down, or actually stop it?

By coming together and fighting. We know Latinos. We also know that Latinos will become one of the biggest overall consumer segments in the U.S. So … wouldn’t it be prudent for our “Hispanic” agency to handle your entire account?

The loss of Home Depot is troubling. But it’s gone.

Now we should work together to make sure a “Hispanic” shop gets a big total-market account.

Can you imagine what would happen if The Vidal Partnership won a quick-service restaurant’s entire account, handling both non-Latino and Hispanic?

Heads would turn. People would talk. AdAge readers would go bonkers.

None of that happened with the Home Depot’s decision to dump Vidal Partnership.

Now is our moment. With Census 2010 just around the corner, U.S. Hispanic advertising dollars should be set to explode. AHAA and the ANA need to set the stage for industry unity – for the leaders and pacemakers to come together with common goals for growing the entire pie, instead of trying to divide one slice in 15 ways.

Vidal Parternship’s competition is no longer AlmaDDB, Grupo Gallegos, Zubi or the many other dynamic agencies that specialize in Hispanic advertising. It is Richards/Lerma, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and any other non-Latino agency that has the desire to do what AHAA member agencies have excelled at for nearly three decades.

Together, “juntos y unidos”, the industry can break out of its malaise and set the tone for the next decade and beyond.

Our industry leaders each hold the ticket to a destination. But are we in agreement on what that destination is? And, if so, are we going to get there together or individually?

If we can’t even agree on a destination and a unified way of reaching it, this industry is destined to disintegrate.


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