Not all Latinos are the same…targeting Dominicans.

After spending some time analyzing Latino niche advertising tactics, I have noticed a general trend pertaining to products or goods relevant to specific groups of Latinos. Meaning, advertising solely pertinent to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, or Dominicans, will vary usually in music, appearance, and speaking style using particular cultural markers to target specific groups. Mainly, goods that are available in one’s respective home country would be a treasure to find at one’s local supermarket. But with the growing Latino population, particularly in the New York tri-state area, there has been a surplus number of goods and specialty products synonymous with these niche demographics. Here, I intend to further discuss the impact of race, stereotypes, gender roles, and “Dominican-ness” by examining one of the most popular advertisements for a staple Dominican food product, salami, but more importantly the brand of Salami Camepsino, and its slogan which came to be just as important as the product itself. In a broader sense, it is imperative to dismiss any preconceived notions or stereotypes of what it is to be a Latino within these ethnic enclaves, which is easier said than done. Here, advertisers may think they know how to target Latinos in diverse areas. Latinos living in Washington Heights, the Bronx, or Queens are all different, as in the film Clueless, not everyone who speaks Spanish is Mexican.

lucyThe commercial for Salami Campesino above, aired exclusively on Univision (not Telemundo) due to loyal Dominican company partnerships and funding exclusively to the network. Univision – New York tailors to a large Latino demographic, and several countries need to be represented thus, Univision aims its ads and programming specifically to a Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Dominican audience due to their high viewership. These types of advertisements will vary, for example, with Univision – Miami tailors much of its ad space for its lively Cuban community. Following Davila’s analysis on immigration patterns from her excerpt in Latinos Inc. The Marketing and Making of a People, the way Latinos have formed ethnic enclaves within North America has come to influence the way advertisers target specific groups of Latinos thus, influencing how individuals interact with specialty products aimed towards them. This Salami Campesino ad uses Dominican markers which are familiar to this niche group – the bachata music, shapely women grocery shopping, and one male (who could pass for African American) if he did not sing.

The Spanish colonization of Dominicana during the 16th century, virtually wiped out the native Taino population to the island. Soon after, the Spanish used the island for slave trading and transport to reach North America, thus the intermingling of European and African ancestry allowed for a high concentration of mulattos to form. Soon, the French acquired part of the island now known as Haiti, and shared slave trade routes interchangeably with Dominicana. As a result, Domincan features vary from highly defined European and African American resemblances. Race and class from the island perspective is virtually non-discursive, whereas race plays a major role at how Dominicans are portrayed and broadcasts in the States. They are advertised in a similar model following African Americans, depicted as the “other,” this observance found in McClintock’s essay Commodity Racism and Imperial Advertising, examines how advertisers depict the African American community, and Domincans are not far behind given their heritage. Many Dominicans use numerous common “negrito” products such as homecare, hair care, and hygiene goods. Virtually non-existent in mainstream media, but in Latino programming, Dominicans (especially in New York) make up a large portion of consumers, and advertisers are catching on. This ad depicts the wide range of race which is contingent to the island’s historic markers, Domincans range from light to dark skinned.

Upon revisiting this ad from an academic stance, there is another marketing strategy and ideology at hand. At the crux of this perspective, this ad takes place in a supermarket where only women seem to be shopping. Where are all the men, and why is only one used at the very end? Given the Latino perspective which is continuously tied with machismo ideologies, women generally will tend to the home, cook, clean, and maintain their good appearance.  This following C-Town Supermarket (sponsored by Telemundo) ad shows two Latina women one light skinned and the other with darker features (in questionable Santa outfits) advertising their local supermarket but similar to the salami ad, a man does not appear until the end of the ad.  Again, targeting the specific “type” of Latina woman who is domestic, she does all the grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning for her home.

Thinking back to Montez de Oca and Messner’s thesis in portraying the male as a “loser,” does not quite apply to the Latino consumer here in fact, it is quiet the opposite. How would these women be able to afford groceries, and make delicious dishes for their families if the man was not working? Machismo culture is dependent on this notion, the man is the head of the house and the main provider. The “stereotypical” qualities a typical Latino man could have is that he is passionate, forthcoming, and a go getter, this ideology is an exact opposite to how Montez de Oca and Messner see men depicted in advertising. Although, the only male pictured might seem off putting, he is essentially working with his apron, viewers can then hypothesize the husbands of the women are not pictured because they are off working.

Looking onward, this commercial has been remade and reappropriated in several ways. The slogan in itself “Si no es campesino, quitalo de mi camino” translates to “if it isn’t campesino brand, get it out of my way,” went on to make more Dominican based commercials exclusively with the Cibao Meat company. Thus, viewers were able to connect the singer (Jose Mateo) with the jingle and to this brand. As we’ve discussed in lecture, stereotypes are neither good or bad, instead they are rooted on societal ideologies pertaining to specific groups. Thus, I believe the success of memes is linked to the truth behind the words or images put together to create a type of humor only a specific group would understand. When Latinos think salami, they may automatically think of a few things: a.) mangu/mofongo (mashed plantains) b.) Dominicans c.) queso (cheese) d.) salami campesino. Although this was a Facebook generated poll, the point being that this cultural marker (salami) has become synonymous with particular group among other things.  Dominicans may even use salami to tell someone they love them….awww.

9773319_1This caused me to think further of the various ways Latinos distinguish themselves among other Latinos. One of the biggest cultural identifiers or markers for these groups is food, language, and music because they distinguish the type of Latino you could be. The tri-state and New York in particular is a clusterfuck (for lack of a better term) of cultures, races and ethnicities, what distinguishes one group from the next are these cultural markers, and advertisers can use them, but must also be careful to get them across correctly. Refer to a Dominican as a Puerto Rican, and that is just going to create backlash, particularly in NYC. Culture jamming, as previously discussed may or may not be an effective marketing strategy when it pertains to Latinos because not every Latino who speaks Spanish is automatically Mexican. Thus, using Davila’s criteria on how to hit almost all Latino groups is most effective. Pick individuals with no specific accent, ones who have the new “Latino Look,” and seek out individuals who are malleable and able to fit “white” beauty norms. This in a sense is problematic because advertisers attempt to mold and shape what a Latino/a living away from their respective native country should be like. Thus, Latinos that consider themselves second generation take their respective native cultures with them, but also find ways to incorporate new cultural markers to their everyday lifestyle.

– G.C.


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