Hispanics in the Sphere of Advertising and PR
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I would like to acknowledge the misrepresentation of Hispanics in advertising and the lack of Hispanic advertising/PR professionals. Hispanics are the youngest major ethnic group in the U.S. However, according to a report by the Association of National Advertisers (2021), Hispanics only make up 9.5 percent of entry-level positions. So, how can we take back our narrative when we still aren’t the ones able to write it? It is a recent trend by advertising agencies and brands to throw in the word diversity on their mission statements, but few have committed to creating a space of inclusion in their companies. I could add another national statistic about the lack of diversity or you could just look at the Stan Richards faculty list and see that the Hispanic presence is almost non-existent. If the faculty is not representative of different ethnic groups, how can we ensure we are being taught how to produce advertising that truly feels authentic and doesn’t reduce our culture to a taco Tuesday promotion?
It is not unknown that advertising has been a method by which stereotypes are perpetuated. The Hispanic archetype in advertising can be found by the heavy emphasis they place on family, showing an abuelita any chance they get, or strengthening the strong association they have built between Hispanics and tacos when our food expands well beyond tacos. When advertisers are finally acknowledging Hispanics, it’s because they are being targeted by cleaning brands or feeding into another common stereotype. It can recently be found in the rebranding of Aguas Frescas as “spa water.” Advertisers participate in culture appropriation by stealing aspects from a minority group and marketing it as some hot new product on the market.
Yes, Hispanic Heritage Month should be a time of celebration and embracing our culture, but more importantly, it is our time to correct the common misperceptions. A time to reclaim our culture because nothing is more powerful. It should be a time of reflection on the progress we have made and the areas we wish to see growth in. Some potential solutions are: Put intent behind your words. Invite diversity. Offer a class that teaches students how to tackle ethnic stereotypes in intercultural communication. Being able to write this article shows that UT Austin values diversity and the input of its Hispanic students.
I hope that from this article, you do not take offense but rather challenge yourself to create work that captures the essence of the culture and not condense it for the sake of a 30-sec television spot.