I was impressed this week with how popular a post on my Facebook wall became; it seemed to resonate with American Latinos, Latin Americans, and Americans who were familiar enough with Latino culture to get it. Just look at the image to the left. The billboard reads: Auto Insurance Faster Than a Flying Chancla. Below it in smaller writing is: Prontoinsurance.com and 1-888-DEVOLADA (devolada being slang for fast).
A quick translation for those not familiar with corporal punishment in the Latino community: parents and grandparents historically have thrown their chancla, or slipper, at misbehaving children and grandchildren. The universality of this form of punishment has always bonded Latinos regardless of generation, country of origin or economic class. It seems that wherever you come from in the Spanish-speaking world, you have experience fleeing a soft house shoe that is thrown at your head when you’ve been naughty.
Almost as soon as I saw this billboard posted by the good folks at Being Latino I hit the share button. And immediately after that, I saw as other friends shared it, liked it, and commented on it (including my brother, who has much more experience than I do in avoiding flying chanclas). The ad seemed to have quite an impact, and it made me reflect on both what makes anything ‘go viral’ online and what kind of advertising resonates with the Hispanic community.
There are very obvious ways to target Hispanics, and telenovelas are just one example. Microsoft tried this a while back with “Los Links“, a commercial that parodied the inherent corniness of telenovelas. However, telenovelas are so ripe for parody that it’s almost too easy. And yes, Latinos know and love these shows, but novelas are also an aspect of Latino culture that is readily identifiable by non-Latinos. Telenovela parodies have, shall we say, jumped the shark. But chanclas remain a bit of an inside joke to Latinos. The fact that they were referenced in the billboard for auto insurance showed that the people behind the ad really know the culture, and I think this is why the ad proved so popular, at least when it was posted on Facebook. Know your audience, and you will do well.