By LORRAINE GEHRING | Kansas City Star
Nicholas Segura thinks many companies are missing an opportunity to increase business with the largest minority in the United States.
Instead of simply translating ads into Spanish, corporations should be creating Hispanic ads, ones that reach both Spanish- and English-speaking Hispanics, he said.
In 2004, Segura opened Cultura Communications to help companies reach out to the diverse Hispanic community in a more culturally aware way. Previously, Segura was an advertising account representative for Dos Mundos, a bilingual newspaper, and worked with corporations such as Hallmark, Anheuser-Busch and the Kansas City Royals.
Larger corporate advertisers, Segura said, often said things like, “We want to reach the Hispanic market, but we don’t know how.”
Although he praised the approach of some companies, Segura said he was frustrated by other advertisers. Many times they would ask the paper to simply translate an existing ad, instead of developing an ad specifically for the Hispanic market.
Often these companies “found their return on investment has been really small,” Segura said. And when the translated ads didn’t draw customers, the advertisers dropped the ads, missing an opportunity.
A significant opportunity, Segura said. At 38 million people, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the United States, as well as one of the faster-growing groups.
Segura said he formed Cultura Communications to help corporate clients address the need for culturally specific advertising, not just Spanish-language advertising. Ads developed specifically for a Hispanic audience help companies avoid cultural blunders or advertising that might appear condescending, he said.
Segura pointed out that 50 percent of the Hispanic market is considered Spanish dominant and 50 percent is English dominant. An ad that focuses on shared cultural values, rather than language alone, has a better chance of success.
Many times the cultural themes that appeal to Hispanic consumers, such as family and community, are universal themes that appeal to a wide audience, Segura said. What’s needed are market research and culturally sensitive creative talent to develop those themes in ways that appeal to a multicultural audience.
Segura works with Kansas City photographer Mark Lozano and with a team of other Hispanics in advertising and communications on a contract basis. Team members each have 15 or more years of experience in general advertising and creative work, Segura said. Many he met through his work with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Depending on the project, Segura can pull in people with relevant experience. The common thread is a shared cultural awareness.
He noted that local Hispanic-owned companies “already know how to sing with the choir.” However, Cultura Communications’ approach and the creative team’s background mean the firm can create broader, multicultural ads that appeal to Hispanics and other minority groups, Segura said.
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