It is 8:30 p.m. and it’s time for commercials on prime-time television. A Target ad flashes on the screen. A family digs through their stockings, about to open presents, to a danceable tune that sounds like “Joy to the World.”
But they’re singing “Canta al amor, lleno de illusión” (Spanish for “Sing to love, filled with joy”)
Marketers increasingly are going beyond foreign-language TV stations to reach a diverse customer base. Target, General Motors and Major League Baseball have all recently aired ads in Spanish on network television.
“It’s a way for marketers to really stand out,” said Bill Duggan, a vice president of the Association of National Advertisers Inc.
“The biggest issue here is that marketing to Hispanics means marketing to the majority,” said Ingrid Otero-Smart, president and chief operating officer of Irvine Latino marketing firm Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados. “We’re not a niche anymore in places like Southern California, and we have a significant portion of the population that lives in both worlds. That’s why you’re seeing ads like the one from Target.”
Yet companies that advertise are concerned about turning away English-speaking viewers.
Some viewers who didn’t understand the Spanish ads aired by Procter & Gamble and GM on network television called the companies wondering what was going on. But both companies said most of the response to their Spanish ads was positive.