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SXSW Explores “Why Latinos Love Toyota, And Hate Sofia Vergara”

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Categorized Under: South by Southwest

There are a lot of talks with intriguing sounding titles at South by Southwest Interactive: What Can We Learn from the Unabomber? Old Tech, New Tech, Same Old Sex?Ninjaneering: Where Fine Art meets High Tech, but one that I had to check out is ‘Why Latinos Love Toyota, And Hate Sofia Vergara.’

The title is meant to be provocative, according to speaker Yashoda Sampath. Sampath is a lead research at Huge — a digital ad agency. When we spoke before her talk, she explained a lot of companies targeting Hispanic Americans make a major mistake by tapping into cliches treasured by the older generation. One good example: Pepsi ads that feature the Colombian actress Sofia Vergara:

Sampath says Vergara’s personality in the Pepsi ads fit with the traditional telenovela style, which plays well with the older generation but doesn’t connect with the younger Latino demographic.

So what type of ad resonates with young Hispanic viewers? Sampath says a great example is Toyota’s “Somos Muchos” decal ad:


For the ad, Toyota went to dozens of Hispanic-American communities across the country and asked people to write their identities on a bumper sticker. What they found, says Sampath, is that people didn’t identify as “Hispanic” but rather as Cuban-American, Puerto-Rican American, Salvadoran-American, and so on.

Toyota’s final shows young Latinos placing bumper stickers with their nationality on their cars. Each decal is unique, but drivers are united by their car choice. Sampath says Toyota was successful here because it went deeper than one general stereotype and spoke to Latinos authentic experience in the US.

The takeaway message from Sampath’s research is that Hispanic Americans, in Texas and across the country, are not a monolithic block, and companies can’t treat them as such if they want to be successful.