National Hispanic Heritage Month: A Q&A With Faith Carrion
September 15 marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) in the United States. Started in 1968 as a one-week celebration, the observance now spans an entire month in which the country acknowledges and honors the contributions and cultures of all citizens with Hispanic and Latine ancestry. For advertising, marketing and media agencies, the month provides an opportunity to connect with a growing demographic of consumers and recognize their rich histories. But what do Hispanic and Latine consumers expect to see when it comes to respectful and engaging content from the brands and companies they love? one50one sat down with Faith Carrion, an indigenous Mexican-American living in Southern California, to get their take. As head of customer experience at a small business, Carrion isn’t a part of the advertising or media industry, allowing them to provide unique insight on how agencies can successfully connect with the very people the holiday is meant to celebrate.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Do you like it when companies acknowledge NHHM?
It depends on how they do it. Some are definitely better than others.
OK, let’s break that down. Is there a company you think has done well in acknowledging NHHM?
In recent years, it’s definitely Target because they’ve worked specifically with Hispanic and Latine artists to create stuff that’s not just slapping mi corazon on a sweater. I like that Target cares enough to work with artists and creators from the cultures they’re celebrating.
That makes sense. On the flip side, is there a case when a company has made some missteps in acknowledging the holiday?
Oof, I see a lot of problems with alcohol brands. Often, they release commercials that show a margarita or aCorona on a beach with a lime and a Latine- or Hispanic-sounding voiceover. That has so little to do with actual Hispanic and Latine cultures. It feels like a cash grab.
When companies acknowledge the holiday, does it bother you that they push a product?
No, I get why they have to. But I don’t want to see anyone slap a sugar skull on something and call it a day. In fact, if they’re not going to do it right, I’d rather companies just skip acknowledging it altogether.
What kind of acknowledgments of the holiday make you feel the most respected?
I like it when companies explain what the holiday is and why they’re celebrating it. It’s also cool when they highlight members of the team who are from the cultures celebrated, explain the origin of a product if it’s from a Latin or South American country, and talk about how they give back to the community, financially or otherwise.
Do you think marketing for the holiday should be in Spanish?
I think it should be bilingual. There are a lot of us who don’t speak Spanish, and, of course, there are a lot of us who do.
What would you say to any brand that might wonder how to approach the holiday?
When possible, any campaign should be tested with people from different cultures and regions within America’s Hispanic and Latine populations. We’re not a monolith: Chicano culture in Los Angeles is very different from Dominican culture in New York City and Tejano culture in Texas. Companies should consider us as a whole, especially with visual representation. Look at different bodies and shapes and colors and realize that we don’t all look the same. We come from all walks of life, and that should be represented when marketing to us. Also, come hang out with us! Go to a little mom-and-pop shop and ask questions or talk to people. We’re a vibrant community with lots of stories and culture to share. If you can understand the culture, then you can truly celebrate it.
one50one thanks Faith Carrion for taking the time to chat with us and share their unique insights on connecting with Hispanic and Latine audiences. Now, we’d love to hear your thoughts: How is your company celebrating NHHM and approaching Hispanic and Latine consumers?