During the seemingly never-ending Super Bowl presentation last Sunday, there was as always equally endless online chatter about the commercials. Common threads throughout the night included genuine, heartfelt stories from tech companies, nostalgia-filled ads from brands like Doritos and sizzling spots for upcoming and highly anticipated Marvel movies (Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel). While many previously underrepresented groups were included in the dozens of new commercials seen by an estimated 100 million-plus viewers, though, Hispanics -- the fastest-growing consumer market -- practically went unseen from beginning to end. We make up 17% of the United States population, so you would think we’d get more than an appearance from Cardi B in a Pepsi ad (above). Heck, there were more robots shown in ads then Hispanics.
While networks and studios are making strides in increasing representation for Hispanics and Latinx, ad agencies and big brands seem to be taking their time. They’re moving a bit too slow, if you ask me. The only commercials in recent memory that were led by Hispanic and Latinx celebrities were Michael Peña for Bud Light, Sofia Vergara and her son Manolo Vergara for Head and Shoulders, and Penelope Cruz for Nescafe, but even some of these examples are a few years old. The most recent and effective is Lin-Manuel Miranda for American Express, featuring the important story of how he supports local businesses in his New York City neighborhood.
Of course, on Spanish-language networks like Univision and Telemundo there are big name celebrities representing brands left and right, and representation of Hispanics and Latinx is everywhere. I’ve heard time and again at recent Upfront presentations by these networks, as well as at marketing conferences and summits, about the increasing buying power of Hispanics in the U.S. and the rapidly growing number of bilingual Hispanic consumers. Brands like Coca-Cola, Bud Light, McDonalds, Nike and many others are all over Spanish-language soccer games, telenovelas and morning talk shows.
But that same representation is lacking when it comes to showing Hispanics in commercials that reach millions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans, despite the vast majority of them in the country being multicultural and bilingual. This is particularly true of Millennials and Gen Zers who consume media in multiple languages, myself included. The #RepresentationMatters movement has been around for much longer than its hashtag, and the radical changes that need to be made among ad agencies doesn’t seem to be happening as quickly as it should.
Let’s hope with the 2020 Super Bowl taking place in Miami, a vastly Hispanic and Latinx city, that the ads will represent and resonate with us a bit more.
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