Spanglish… What does this word mean? Webster’s definition is “Spanish that includes the use of English words.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “A hybrid language combining words and idioms from both Spanish and English, especially Spanish speech that uses many English words and expressions.”
The term has become a lot more popular in recent years, but most Latinos in the US have been speaking Spanglish since birth. It’s one of the benefits of growing up in a multicultural home and culture. We balance American traditions and the English language with Latino traditions and Spanish. Most of us speak Spanglish with childhood friends and families. And most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re jumping from language to language until someone points it out.
It was brought to my attention about ten years ago, when I first introduced my then boyfriend – now husband – to my childhood friends. As we made our way back home, he asked why I spoke that way. “What way?” I asked. He pointed out that we bounced back and forth between Spanish and English throughout our conversations. “Huh… I didn’t even realize!”
Well, not only have friends and spouses noticed that we do this, but brands and marketing execs have as well. Brands such as Tide, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Target, Taco Bell, and Toyota are just a few that are marrying the languages into one cohesive message.
More and more brands are testing this creative strategy, as it is a delicate dance to dance, but when done correctly it can really resonate with US Latinos. “Why?” you ask? Well, it allows brands to connect with potential consumers on a more personal level. We connect with the characters, as they sound just like us. They’re speaking our native languages, Spanish and English, exactly the same way we do! This makes the brand, and the message around the brand, come across as more human and real.
Most Latinos in the US speak both languages, so when an ad is created in one language or the other, it may resonate with us, but doesn’t feel as genuine as a Spanglish ad. The most recent ad that really resonated with me was the Wells Fargo “First Paycheck” ad. Maybe because it reminds me of the time I was showing off my first pay check to my parents, as they picked me up from work in the family station wagon, but also because it was in Spanglish. Wells Fargo showcases the convenience of their mobile banking, but does so in a natural setting:
- Young college girl shows off her first pay check with pride
- Her warm and loving family congratulate her
- Abuelita “Grandma” wants a picture of the check to frame
Wells Fargo is targeting the US Latino Banking Customer, but understands that we all may not communicate the same way. Some of us speak only Spanish with our families while others speak Spanglish. It’s a brilliant way to connect with the Latino market, speaking to us with messaging and language that resonate.
Latinos are not all the same, and brands are coming around to this realization and starting to message accordingly. It’s a smart way to connect with consumers, as it allows for that emotional connection as well. Congrats to the brands that have done this tastefully, and we look forward to many more Spanglish ads on English and Spanish TV as well as across digital media.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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