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HMC To Advertising & Marketing Executives: Stop Latino Coating

Gaby M. Rojas
The Hispanic Marketing Council (HMC) unveiled a new campaign at its 2024 Annual Summit calling on the advertising and marketing industries to “Stop Latino Coating.”

In today’s competitive marketplace, CMOs face immense pressure to achieve growth. Proper investment and authentic engagement with U.S. Latinos, who are influencing mainstream culture and fueling demographic shifts is the clear answer. The Hispanic Marketing Council (HMC) unveiled a new campaign at its 2024 Annual Summit calling on the advertising and marketing industries to “Stop Latino Coating.” The resounding message? Give Hispanic marketing the weight it deserves, connect authentically or kiss your careers goodbye—#STOPLATINOCOATING.

Today’s Hispanic market at 20 percent of the U.S. population represents $3.2 trillion in GDP, essentially making it the fifth largest economy in the world. Paradoxically, brands continue to miss opportunities by investing less than 4 percent (SMI and GroupM) of their advertising budgets on Hispanic-targeted efforts and engaging in a practice HMC is coining as “Latino Coating.” HMC is calling on all advertising and marketing professionals, particularly CMOs, to join the movement by visiting stoplatinocoating.com and stop this ineffective practice.

Latino Coating is defined as a superficial marketing approach coating products, campaigns, media or entertainment with Latino elements for the appearance of diversity without genuine understanding or respecting Latino culture. This behavior involves surface-level attempts at inclusion, such as incorporating stereotypical imagery, language, or cultural elements into marketing campaigns, without a deeper connection or meaningful representation.

“To us, Latino Coating is a form of cultural appropriation that seeks to capitalize on Latino identity for marketing purposes without genuinely valuing or respecting the culture,” explains Luis Miguel Messianu, founder, president and chief creative officer of MEL (Messianu Edelman Lerma) and creative director of this campaign. “It’s akin to whitewashing, greenwashing, or rainbow washing, but it preys on Latino identity—offering a mere illusion of inclusivity by adding Latino elements on the surface. It’s activating during Hispanic Heritage Month and patting yourself on the back.”

According to McKinsey & Co, more than a third of Latinos are dissatisfied with current products or value propositions being offered. CMOs who do the bare minimum, check boxes and engage in Latino Coating are not only doing their organizations a disservice but they are also risking their careers.

HMC advises marketing leaders to…

  • Increase Hispanic marketing spend levels commensurate with the Latino $3.2 trillion buying power. The general market is dead, and marketers must be savvier to capture the hearts and minds of today’s multicultural consumer.
  • Delve deeper into understanding Latino culture, respecting its complexity, and acknowledging diverse perspectives and experiences to ensure their products and services stay relevant and valuable to Latinos.
  • Ensure there’s meaningful representation. Authenticity comes from genuinely representing Latino communities, not just by being visible but by understanding and respecting their values and experiences. Latinos don’t want to be targeted; they want to be seen and valued.
  • Seek and pay for the right help. Work with partners who truly understand the Latino cultural context so brands can forge real connections with the U.S. Hispanic market.

“Authentic engagement builds lasting relationships based on trust and mutual understanding. Research shows that when consumers feel genuinely represented, they’re more likely to support and advocate for brands. It’s time for CMOs to wake up, treat us as we are: the fifth largest global economy,” adds HMC Chair Isabella Sanchez, VP of Media Integration at Zubi.

#STOPLATINOCOATING was developed by top creative directors from MEL, Creyentes and Casanova//McCann with support from the entire HMC board.

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