You’re Trumped: Campaign Lessons for Brands’ Outreach to Latinos

With the 2016 general election still over a year away, we are already seeing strong evidence of Latino influence. The now-infamous remarks that Donald Trump, in announcing his candidacy, made about Mexican immigrants prompted Univision and NBCUniversal, long-time partners of Trump’s Miss Universe pageant and The Apprentice show, respectively, to sever ties with him. Further damaging the Trump brand, some 200,000 people petitioned NBC to end its relationship with the high-profile billionaire. Even with an incredible crisis communications agency, it would take a long time to rebuild Trump’s reputation and image.

But the Latino influence in elections trumps “the Donald.” In the 2014 elections, one lesson became abundantly clear: Latinos are playing a growing role in shaping the future of the United States. Gubernatorial and other state and local candidates – as well as ballot measures – faced an increasingly Hispanic electoral landscape.

What does this mean for your brand? If Latinos’ role in choosing our leaders and policies is growing, so is their role in picking brand winners.

Photo credit: Michael Vadon CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo credit: Michael Vadon CC BY-SA 2.0

Here are three insights for brand managers who wish to appeal to Latino consumers:

1. Develop culturally sensitive messaging now

In the past few election seasons, candidates in tight races have sometimes had to change their tune to appeal to Latino voters. In Florida, former Governor Charlie Crist, who, as a Republican, had opposed the Affordable Care Act – a measure supported by Latinos – ran as a Democrat in 2014, supporting the ACA and winning the Latino vote (although narrowly losing the election). In a state where a third of Hispanics polled said either they or a family member had been uninsured in the past year and about half said they knew someone who was sick and lacked health insurance, it is clear that being on their side could make or break a campaign.

Although you might not be reaching out to a Latino audience today, that could change tomorrow. So it’s important to craft messaging and establish business practices that are culturally sensitive to all groups.

2. Capitalize on their values

Former Republican Governor Rick Perry held office for three terms in Texas, which can be partially attributed to his appeal to Hispanic voters. While Latinos tend to vote for Democrats, Perry tailored his messaging to resonate with them. For example, although he advocated stringent border control, he also supported and signed legislation that allowed illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at public universities. While many Latino voters might have disapproved of his border stance, they undoubtedly appreciated his support for helping them receive higher education, a topic that perpetually ranks as one of the most important to this audience. This, among other Latino-friendly positions, strengthened his appeal to Hispanics.

In marketing, a primordial element in any campaign is to understand the target consumer. Rick Perry showed us how associating a brand with a cause can lead to acceptance. Once a brand picks a cause or topic, it can position itself as an organization that is driven by more than profits, and this plays very well with an audience, like Hispanics, that is drawn to corporate social responsibility initiatives.

3. Once you’ve won Latinos over, don’t assume their loyalty will last forever

Recently the Democratic Party has experienced a decrease in Latino support at the national level. In 2012 Democrats enjoyed a 38 percent advantage over Republicans among Hispanics. However, in just two years, their advantage dropped to 28 percent. During the 2014 senatorial election in Texas, this lower support affected the result: Republican Senator John Cornyn won 48 percent of the Latino vote in his successful re-election battle. While still shy of a majority, that was a red flag to Democrats, who realized they needed to step up their efforts.

Complacency has no role to play in Latino outreach strategy, even if a brand currently enjoys the favor of this group. What works today might not work tomorrow, and with the median age of Hispanic consumers at 27, they can’t be targeted the same way as other audiences. As can be seen from social media, they are continually trying out trends and engaging with brands.

For more information on marketing to Latino consumers, visit


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