By Ivette M. Achong, West Glen Communications
A recent article in The New York Times revealed that English-language TV networks are striving to appeal to Hispanic viewers, especially those who are bilingual and bicultural. However, they are having a difficult time capturing this audience. Although the popular Hispanic actress Sofia Vergara appears each week on ABC’s Modern Family, even she can’t seem to get Hispanic viewers to tune in and make the switch from their favorite telenovela (nighttime soap).
Now, why is that? The article cited that some Hispanics believe many English-language shows do not accurately depict Latinos and tend to perpetuate ethnic stereotypes. If you ask me, the relationship between language and culture has a lot to do with it as well. In the Hispanic culture, Spanish isn’t just a language, it’s a common denominator and a way of life.
For example, there is a multitude of Hispanic ethnic groups living in the United States (Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and a host of others from Latin America and the Caribbean). All have different traditions and customs but Spanish provides the common thread and a way to bond as Latinos, despite the varying nationalities.
Spanish also serves to unite Hispanic families and generations in lasting ways. While many younger Hispanics are fluent in English and acculturated, it’s still very common for them to speak mostly Spanish at home, particularly if they live in a multi-generational household. How else are they going to relate to Mom and Grandma while they’re watching that telenovela?
The start of Hispanic Heritage Month is just around the corner on September 15 and many companies and organizations will want to know how they can effectively reach Latinos. In a nutshell, think about the language but also remember the culture.
Ivette M. Achong is Vice President/PSA Services, West Glen Communications