From The Metroculturalist

In a recent post I was talking about the need to represent and engage with urban Latinos in a relevant way. In this post I want to explore some alternatives using context, content and community. These three areas are interconnected, but I’ll try to separately define and exemplify these ideas.

So, let’s start… What do we mean by CONTEXT???

Identity for New Urban Latinos is a fluid and dynamic concept, and the way they behave and feel depends on whom they are with, and where they are…

There are more Latino contexts, and more multicultural contexts: depending on these situations, New Urban Latinos are exposed to different media or want to be reflected in different ways.

Sunday brunch with the family is different from a weekday lunch at school, or in the office with multicultural friends.

If we don’t understand the different nature of these different contexts, we can’t create a meaningful dialogue with the consumer. Our casting, our language our tone & manner have to be different.

Context is not just about place and casting, it also connects with the diversity of urban sub-cultures (sneakers, skaters, music, graffiti, tuners). This applies to specific spaces, and to the consumption of media.

If New Urban Latinos are navigating Internet and looking for information related to sneakers, I have to integrate myself organically in the specific context of this urban sub-culture.

In this context, I don’t need to be overly Latino or speak Spanish; it doesn’t make sense to force the Latino theme here. I’ll do something urban and cool, maybe with a Latino spin… but just maybe.

Let’s talk aboutCONTENT. We know current Mainstream and traditional Hispanic media are not fully satisfying the needs for content among New Urban Latinos, and there’s a huge opportunity to reflect their multicultural reality.

Shows like Modern Family and Glee are creating interesting models for multicultural integration from the standpoint of content. Each displays particular characteristics:

Glee reflects the diversity of current American society, the struggle of identity formation, and the need for people that “feel different” to stick together and come together to create a sense of community. As you can imagine, these themes resonate strongly with the New Urban Latino: they feel acknowledged and represented without feeling like a token.

Modern Family works differently. Here a Latina woman and her son create an interesting cultural interaction with the American side of the family: the conflict of values and the mutual influence of cultures are explicit. The stereotypical situations are solved with a sense of humor, and the final take normally expresses how much we can learn from each other’s culture. The latino vs. anglo conflict is treated as the gay vs. straight conflict, as the old vs. young conflict, as the desire vs. reality conflict…. That means it’s integrated as a conflict just like any other in a diverse and plural world.

There’s a huge opportunity to associate your brand with content that fulfills this need for representation. And one of the most successful ways to generate this content is to invite consumers to co-create with your brand.

Some brands targeting the New Urban consumer are already co-creating content. The brands and their values are providing a frame of reference – a platform for expression – and then inviting people to participate in reflecting their own life, making them the central characters with their stories and their contribution.

An example is the Coke Zero invitation to the young creative community to create inspirational videos with real stories of people that converted something possible into something real.

Digital is a great space to initiate our engagement with consumers in a targeted and effective way, but radio, experiential, and activations can also be considered opportunities for relevant content development, co-creation, or playing with the consumer.

Last but no least, COMMUNITY. Almost 90% of New Urban Latinos agree that companies making a sincere effort to be part of their communities deserve their loyalty, but they also think that very few brands have a genuine interest in taking care of their needs, and addressing issues.

Beyond presence in the community through the sponsorship of cultural manifestations or good will actions at the corporate level, efforts connected with their specific reality in their cities and neighborhoods are what New Urban Latinos will consider real, authentic and will reward with their reciprocity.

New Urban Latinos sense of community is also changing. It’s not just “el barrio” or the Latino parade.

Pepsi Yo Sumo calling for a movement among Young Latinos during the 2010 census

First, they see their lives connected to other multicultural people like them, others striving with the same needs and concerns: education, employment, environmental responsibility, etc… these are not abstract idealizations but very specific needs, and they will demand that brands play a role in their resolution.

Second, they are using digital and social media to catalyze their larger social networks, to tap into other communities and subcultures when they want to share or learn something new, and to fuel word of mouth about their experiences with brands in their different social spheres.


Interestingly, these social media communities are happening at the local level. New Urban Latinos use digital technology and social media mostly to communicate with the people they already know and who are already part of their lives in their cities, their schools and their jobs.

In the end, the common denominator across context, content and community isAUTHENTICITY. New Urban Latinos are demanding an authentic representation of their multifaceted identity, of the diversity of the world they live in, of the multiplicity of their subcultures, and of the issues they are passionate about.


Categories: NGLC Conference

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