Passage of the “Dream Act”

By Andrea Rivera
Passage of the “Dream Act”


Obama. Obama. Obama. His actions right before the elections in November inspires skepticism. He explains that he did it because it was the right thing to do, but why not before? Why now? Could it be for the elections? If it was the right thing to do, why didn’t he begin his presidency with this policy? Was it for the vote and support of Hispanic groups? Nonetheless, skepticism aside, he proposed a law will forever change the lives of thousands of affected undocumented families.    

On June 15, 2012, Barrack Obama announced a new hope for the undocumented: granting the freedom to any undocumented person who has lived their whole lives in the United States to obtain a work permit. Obama made it apparent that this was not a “permanent fix,” but it is a start. It is a start to a better nation; a start to eliminate fear in the minds of parents who think they have ruined the lives of their children by transporting them across the border; a start to fulfill the lives of our brothers and sisters, but an end to deportations and their corruption.

 It is time to change how our nation approaches the mixture of racism, neglect, discrimination, and frustration of the people. The misfortune is of undocumented minors sent a message thus far calling for the need for progress. This proposal gives the undocumented youth hope to persevere into the future without any hindrances. Progress will evidently lead to an unwelcomed number of problems but if we have overcome everything until now, imagine how much more we can do united.

The Dream Act was a policy created to allow undocumented teenagers to continue on to college right after school, but was shut down in 2010 by Congress. This was a loss and a shock for many students and families. Why won’t the government grant them that right?  I know the situation is delicate because everyone has different beliefs, but people as a whole should know right from wrong. At least I thought so. For example, I believe granting children their wish to continue in life after high school is not only right, but a beautiful concept: as a country we are fulfilling their dreams.  They have lived here their entire lives under the government system, and as children they do not have the maturity to understand why living here is unconstitutional. They were given free education as children but continuing would be tragically impossible because they are not legal. They are considered aliens… children considered aliens. Seriously? They are innocent lives who are going to face difficulties or obstacles because their parents are trying to do what’s best for them.

This policy is a gift to thousands of families across the nation. They are full of joy thanking every angel in heaven for listening to their prayers and for finally handing their children the hope they deserve. And also for giving next year’s high school graduates confidence and assurance to continue their schooling and their lives here in America, the land of dreams and prosperous lives.

 I have a neighbor named Cesar who is 9 years old and is the cutest little boy ever. Unfortunately he is undocumented and he knows he is from Mexico, but he doesn’t know that it’s illegal for him to be here. He frequently asks me about college and wonders when I’ll go, so that when I come back I can tell him everything, and give him tips to make it through. Thus far, every time the topic came up, I would change the topic as quickly as I could. It saddened me because I knew this kid was college material, capable of overcoming any challenges, but I also knew he wouldn’t have the chance to ever experience it… until now. I’m glad and extremely appreciative for the passage of this act. I’ll now be able to witness my neighbor who I see as a little brother, go off to college and succeed in his future dreams.

 We know this work permit will not grant any person citizenship, but allowing these children to one day become fully American is also inevitable. It may take months, years or decades but we have hope that this dream will come true. ¡Si se puede!

July 23, 2012   No Comments

Meet Andrea Rivera

I’m glad to introduce our new Summer 2012 intern, Andrea Rivera. Here’s a little bit about her:

By Andrea Rivera.

I am not an everyday Lateen who loves to listen to Reik or dance all night to tribal music at quinceañeras or exceed the amount of salsa on my food. Don’t get me wrong, I love my rice and beans but I won’t be familiar with any funny Spanish jokes or sayings. I grew up in a household with a bilingual mother, a Spanish speaking- father, and an older sister. I would hear my father speak Spanish, but I wasn’t able to catch on as quickly because I spent most of my time with my mother and sister who knew more English than Spanish.  Yes, I went to a bilingual school, but in Kindergarten, as soon as the teachers found out that I could speak English, they immediately placed me in an English-speaking classroom taught by such a pleasant woman: Ms. Anderson. Anyway, ever since then I’ve always spoken more English than Spanish, I may have some difficulties speaking it but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand or write it. 

As I left my elementary school and proceeded to my new school for the next 6 years in Dallas, TX at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School— I know, it’s a mouthful—, I was required to choose a language and stick with it. I chose Spanish. Most of my friends were immediately placed in advanced levels while I stayed behind in the beginners class. The feeling was horrifying; the students would look at me in awe because the color of my skin signaled a flag that I should already know the basics of the language. Even the teacher questioned why I was in there. The experience was embarrassing, but I overcame their criticism and did my very best in that class.

One of my best friends is Anglo and she says I’m still too Mexican for her; however my family in Mexico says I’m too American for them. It’s difficult to satisfy both cultures and be stuck in the middle, but either way, we consider ourselves family and that won’t ever change. My family understands me perfectly, as I do them, and I’ve come to realize that they will always love me for who I am. I still have difficulties speaking Spanish, but I have the heritage as any other Lateen and I’m proud of it. I’m a rock lovin’ huevo ranchero kind of girl who lives up to her own expectations because I KNOW I am not alone out there and many can relate to my personal experiences.

My name is Andrea Rivera and I’m 16. This summer I will be interning with iNSPIRE!, thanks to Education is Freedom, and words can’t explain how grateful I am for this opportunity. I hope to leave here with an understanding of the field of advertising and the intensity behind the work.

July 16, 2012   No Comments

The Jailing of Illegal Immigrants

By: Kelly Dawes

Let’s look beyond the walls of an advertising agency and face a current issue that consumes the daily thoughts of thousands of individuals in this country. Let’s take a step back and examine an escalating and real problem that even some of this agency’s consumers are affected by in their daily lives. This may be a topic you have briefly covered, or it could be the first time you have heard of its existence.  What you should take away from this article is that jailing undocumented immigrants is a problem not only for the state of Texas, but for the entire United States. Whether you care about the financial implications, the humanitarian issues at hand, or are concerned about the treatment of illegal immigrants; the jailing of undocumented immigrants is a gut wrenching topic that needs to be addressed.  We should care because many Hispanic families are being torn apart from the jailing of these thousands of illegal immigrants. Many second-generation children, specifically many Lateens, are actually watching their parents who are illegal immigrants being put behind bars. We should care because some of these individuals are the very consumers of even the products we market and advertise.

This story paints a vivid picture of what currently is happening to thousands of family each year:

At dawn on July 19, nearly 40 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Immigration (HSI) agents burst into the home of Carmen Bonilla, 44. The agents were searching for “Robert” an alleged drug dealer, but ended up terrifying Bonilla and her son Michael, 16, daughter Josefina, 23, daughter-in-law Leticia, 28, and two of her granddaughters.

According to Jessica Dominguez, the family’s lawyer, and Jorge Mario Cabrera, spokesperson of the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the family was subjected to “different levels of physical and verbal abuse,” including screaming, “kicking, beating and aggression.” (

This story paints a picture of what is currently happening but more importantly what consistently is happening; this story is not unique. What consistently happens to so many is that after they are sent to prison and are undocumented, the individual has to wait to appear before an immigration judge, which is supposed to take just a few days, but some of the individuals have been kept there for more than 2 years (Aggie R. Hoffman, an immigration attorney). Two years of waiting for a judge to ultimately decide your fate of whether you can stay here in the United States or have to return home to your country of origin. Two years of being apart from your family and instead locked up a facility that costs The Department of Homeland Security between $50 to $200 per day to local, county, and state prisons to house illegal immigrants. Not only is this costing our government large expenses each day, but businesses are profiting off of this housing since many of the prisons are privately run. The Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest for profit prison company, with other prison companies own more than 200 private prisons with 150,000 beds and makes an annual profit of $5 billion ( Within the last few years, state legislations as well as the Obama administration have turned to more restrictive enforcement. The laws coupled with the increase in enforcement have the potential to bring tens of thousands of individuals into for-profit jails.

Just last week, Texas and California formed a rare alliance between two states that typically bleed red and blue in their political stance, and secured $240 million in federal funds to pay for jailing illegal immigrants (Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2011). Indeed, this is more of a significant issue for California and Texas than almost every other state not only because of their geographic location along the border between Mexico, but also because of their state’s huge population size. Furthermore what makes this alliance to preserve federal funds unusual is that Washington is currently pushing to reduce its debt by eliminating federal reimbursements for state prisons and local jails that house 300,000 convicted illegal immigrants nationwide.

It’s a problem that is not going away any time soon. Overcrowded prisons have historically been a hot topic of debate, but until recently the publicity of illegal immigrants and their mistreatment within those walls had not been uncovered. Our hope should be that not only the Presidential elections next fall will cover this topic and provide ideas and concrete tactics towards solutions, but that our local and state legislators continue to address this as being a real and lasting issue. Our hope resides there as our knowledge on this topic will continue to grow.

December 5, 2011   2 Comments

Inspiring Community

By Kelly Dawes

Community is everywhere. It’s more than the traditional definition of living together in one place. It’s more than practicing common ownership. It’s about a community of individuals wherever they happen to be in the world and about connecting together in a meaningful way. Community is a key theme for Latinos. 

We can see the Latino desire for community by looking at mobile phone media trends. Cell phones are more than just a way for Hispanics to communicate quickly; they’re a way for them to communicate with many. They’re a way to stay connected with friends and family in the U.S. or even their country of origin if it is outside of the United States. For many Latinos, cell phones aren’t about efficiency and multitasking as they are for so many in the general market; they’re about expanding personal knowledge and experiences.

Mobile phones are bridging and building society in a way that allows for Latinos to feel part of whatever community they desire. As marketers for the Hispanic consumer, we need to think beyond just geography. We keep saying that it is no longer about creating content that consumers in Houston or Miami solely understand because that same content may be read and shared by consumers on the opposite end of the country or even a whole other country. We live in a global society where content can move easily between consumers. Hispanic consumers are very much a part of this, and we need to understand this idea and embrace their drive for community as an important factor in all marketing messages.

Even beyond using the cell phone for community, Hispanics are also driving the social media space and view the digital space as the “plaza del pueblo” (central plaza) as a mean for staying connected (eMarkter Report, September 2011). It’s more than using the cell phone as a way to stay connected with community. Hispanics are being entrepreneurs and creating and interacting in the digital world, and they are twice as likely than the general market consumers to do so (eMarkter report, September 2011). 

How can we keep up with this knowledge and information of community for Hispanics? How can we actually see this interaction?  A great representation of this movement amongst Latinos is in a ground-breaking social media organization: LATISM. LATISM stands for Latinos in Social Media and has been deemed one of the most influential online movements by capturing over 10 million impressions a day with their hashtag #LATISM. LATISM understands the idea of community and creates a space of Latinos of all ages to interact and communicate with each other through a place that they know best: Twitter. Conversations from education to politics happen weekly by allowing fans to contribute and engage in the conversation. The platform went one step beyond that and focused even more on community by creating chapters throughout the country, the grassroots of this organization. The organization is continuing to grow and we need to step back and ask ourselves why? The simple exchange of information, conversation, and community are what is driving these passionate followers and this is the key reason why here at iNSPIRE! we support this organization.

The heart of the Latino culture is community and it’s easy to see in their cell phone patterns, creative capabilities and interactions in the digital space. LATISM is just one example of an incredible organization that understands the idea of community. What can we do in our day-to-day lives to build even further upon this existing community? The products and services we create are counting on you to remember this and to be the voice that ties Hispanics to their passion: community.

November 3, 2011   No Comments

My Spanish Window

Guest Post by Kelly Dawes

I’m not fluent, but I’m passionate. I’m more than one race; I’m a culture. I’m not young, but I’m not old. Where and how do I begin to describe myself? This is how so many of us feel. We feel as if we don’t truly fit into any one, labeled category.

Most of us hate being labeled as just one group, whether it’s race, religion, or even our income. Those survey questions that ask you to “check only one that applies” instill a feeling of uneasiness in so many of us. What does it mean when you choose only one answer when you were actually thinking about answering differently for an entire two-minute debate?

In the recent 2010 U.S. Census, individuals were allowed to choose two or more races to describe themselves for the very first time. This was accomplished by either checking a box titled “two or more races” or by providing multiple race responses. The concept of legally identifying yourself to the government as two different races is incredible in itself, and the beauty lies in what you truly identify yourself as. If you are only 1/16 Hispanic and the other part Caucasian, but you identify yourself as Hispanic, you can claim yourself as Hispanic; it’s up to you.

I walk around Dallas and hear Spanish all the time: in the grocery store, in my office, on the radio, or on the television when I am flipping through the stations and stumble upon Forest Gump with Spanish dubbing. The Spanish language is constantly around me. I feel as if right now I am living halfway through a Spanish window where I am slowly and gradually immersing myself into speaking and learning more and more of the language. Language, just like the race that you “check” to describe yourself, is just the surface of who you are. It seems that the cultural makeup of our nation is slowly shifting from labeling individuals just as a demographic but is now identifying them as a psychographic. Instead of solely looking at just the age, income and education level of individuals, psychographics look more at the overarching idea of what makes Latino consumers tick.

A multicultural research firm, The New American Dimension, divided the Hispanic market into the following sub segments:

  1. Just moved in’rs: Recent arrivals, Spanish dependent, struggling but optimistic)
  2. FOBrs (Fashionistas on a budget): Spanish dominant, traditional, but striving for trendy
  3. Accidental explorers: Spanish preferred, but not in a rush to embrace U.S. culture.
  4. The enlightened: Bilingual, technology savvy, driven, educated, modern
  5. Doubting Tomáses: Bilingual, independent, skeptical, inactive, shopping uninvolved.
  6. Latin flavored: English preferred, reconnecting with Hispanic traditions
  7. SYLrs (single, young Latinos): English dominant, free thinkers, multicultural

I bet while reading that list you automatically tried to place yourself within one group. Or you might have even subconsciously debated between two of the groups and where you saw yourself fitting. It may not be the perfect description of you, whichever group you chose, but it sure seems a lot more meaningful than only checking one or two boxes for your race. Psychographics are where the future in advertising and marketing is headed. On the outside a consumer may be one thing, but on the inside their likes and preferences may be completely removed from the stereotypical. You could be a high school aged girl, like reggaeton music, but have a secret obsession with action video games. Or be a middle-aged dad who likes to watch romantic comedies. Both of these situations are atypical to their identified demographic and instead are reached through their psychographics, taking into account what people truly like and care about.

No matter what product or service is sold, advertisers need to perform their due diligence, understand where the majority of the people they are trying to reach land on this matrix, and modify the message according to this insight (Tornoe 2011). Whether it’s a product or service being marketed, advertisers need to know the psychographics of where the majority of their consumers fall and use them to create more meaningful messages.

Identifying my psychographics I can now figure out more of who I am instead of struggling with how to identify my race, fluency, and culture. My parents raised me to be a proper and conservative girl and everyday I am trying to change that stereotype and be drastically more than that. I’m slowly moving from living halfway through a Spanish window and changing my labeled demographic to focusing instead on my psychographic and living in the Hispanic culture. Now it’s your turn: how can you truly reach consumers?

October 19, 2011   No Comments

Guest Post: A Big Hand for Increased Amount of Hispanics in College, but Take On the Challenge

I’m happy to introduce to you Kelly Dawes, she will be guest blogging at Brand Lateen for a few weeks. A little bit more about Kelly

Chicago raised girl living in Dallas who’s goal is to break down cultural barriers by using her skills and talents to create inspiring messages that in turn impact individuals’ lives. Personal quote, “Life has so many places I want to visit, faces I want to meet and lives I hope to touch.”

A Big Hand for Increased Amount of Hispanics in College, but Take On the Challenge.

By: Kelly Dawes

The word recession is at the tip of everyone’s tongue, in the back of every CEO’s mind, and behind every business’s financial reports. Some are optimistic about the future while others are uncertain. With large numbers of individuals struggling to find jobs, many have returned back to school in hopes of bettering their credentials and with the goal of ultimately landing a job.

What is certain is that amidst this economic uncertainty there is an increase in freshman enrollment at four-year colleges, community colleges and trade schools since 2007 (Fry 2010). Not only has the recession increased the number of students attending post-secondary institutions, a huge surge in Hispanic attendees has dominated that boom. For the first time, Hispanics are outnumbering young blacks on campus; Hispanics ages 18-24 now make up 24% of total college enrollment and are the largest minority group on college campuses (Tavernise 2011). With a 7% population increase among Hispanics per the 2010 U.S. Census, it’s clear that more than a population increase contributed to the narrowing of this gap.

A huge applause is in order for this increase in Hispanic college attendees. More and more Hispanics are receiving higher education, which has the potential to develop remarkable new minds and create great talent. What exactly does this recent trend mean for advertisers? The need for Hispanic advertising is growing, but how does that specifically impact the advertising scene? A 2008 College Board study found that in 2008 the average amount that students owed in loans once they graduated was $23,000 (Thomas 2010), with more and more of Generation Y opting for the “pay for it later” mindset, even adding to their credit card debt. On average, General Y has more than three credit cards and 20% carry a balance of more than $10,000 according to Fidelity Investments.

As a current graduate student in my second year, I can relate to the norm of my generation with large debt in student loans. I filed for student loans for the first time a year ago and within 25 minutes, my school authorized the loans from just a few mouse clicks. With those few clicks a life-changing thing happened: I had thousands of dollars of debt in my name and no degree or job yet to pay those loans back. The thought kept me up those first few months as I embarked on my journey to receive my Masters. A while later, I received an $8,000 reimbursement check for overestimating the loans I needed. For Generation Y, we look at this huge check written in our name and cashing it is beyond tempting. What is even scarier is that I have seen many of my friends use the reimbursement check they receive from the government not towards rent or living expenses, but instead towards splurge purchases: a spring break vacation, high heel shoes, a party they “had to throw,” or even a new laptop that they did not need. The struggles of my generation are very apparent to me in my daily life.

As media leaders who are creating messages geared towards the growing number of Hispanic college attendees, it’s our responsibility to be aware of this generation’s financial debt. More and more of Generation Y is going into debt during their schooling, which means growing amounts of Hispanics are struggling in this same area. We can either create messages that mirror society or instead create messaging that helps mold society.

Our advertising choices—in the messages we create, the decisions we make behind closed doors on campaign ideas and pitches—should reflect this growing economic concern. Finances and debt impact everyone, but we have the ability to help foster positive change, especially with Hispanics, through our advertisements.  For the next few decades, Hispanics are predicted to continue growing in college attendance and one day are predicted to no longer be the minority.  This too should be applauded, but remember their financial struggles, and take that on as your challenge.

September 29, 2011   6 Comments

Guest post by Adan Gonzalez: Leaving to D.C.

Adan was our intern at iNSPIRE! last summer and he was kind enough to come back and write this post for us about his first impressions of college, well done Adan!

At the beginning of my senior year in high school, I was determined to attend Georgetown University. Growing up in an unstable household with three brothers and being raised by hard a working custodian father and a mail clerk mother, I knew that the only chance I had to pursue a higher education was to earn scholarship money. So I applied to over twenty scholarships with the thought that they would pay my way. For me (and for many teenagers) there was never another option but scholarships. 

Ever since I can remember money has been an obstacle at my house. I had to start working at ten to help my parents buy my own school uniforms selling movies at a local flea market. The money I made went to help support my parents and siblings. There was nothing left to put aside for school for me. The only reason my father allowed me to go to DC to study was because I was offered a full ride. I was convinced that I would not pay anything since I won numerous scholarships, but I was very wrong! The expenses of being a college student were astronomical and to make my college experience a bit more intense, money was not my only concern. I never realized how attached I was to my family. 

I grew up in Oak Cliff, the soul of Dallas. I graduated from W.H Adamson High School, which is made up of 96% Hispanic students and the majority of those Hispanic students have Mexican roots. I am the first in my family to receive a 4-year university education.  It was a challenge to prepare myself for college because no one in my family had a clue of what was needed for a dorm. I began to seek advice and recommendations on what to take, and everyone seemed to mention “clothes, laptop, toiletries, and something that reminds you of home.”  My mom is from Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, the only thing she handed me to take (in tears) were three Saints: La Virgen de Guadalupe, La Virgen de San Juan and Jesus Christ. My father, the person I am with most of the time (besides my girlfriend), for the first time did not have any words of wisdom to tell me. He just hugged me and I felt his tears roll down his dark cheeks. It has been the hardest good-bye of my life.  

I left for school early to take a summer course. Georgetown paid for my transportation and that was great, but I only had $160.00 to pay for any extras during my 4 weeks there. Unfortunately, at the airport I had to give more than half of that to pay for my only bag since it was overweight. From that moment, I realized that I was on my own. My papi y mami were no longer by my side. Mis hermanos were no longer near me. It was hard and I cried. I am a boxer with no fear about taking a punch, but I have to admit I was scared. As I walked through the jet way to the plane I knew that my home would never be the same. I was on my way to college to finish off my family’s American Dream and help them live a better life. But at that moment, I felt like I was losing them.  

As I arrived at Georgetown, I stood and stared at the campus. My first reaction… Well, no, I had no reaction. I just stood and stared… stood and stared… for an eternity it seemed like. My new school looked like Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Ironically once I came back to reality, I smiled and came to the conclusion my dream had finally begun. Soon, without even knowing it, I began keeping a diary of the time I spent at Georgetown. It wasn’t a cute little book, but something called Facebook. For one reason or another, everything I did or felt would end up as an update of my status or be uploaded as pictures. And to be honest I discovered it to be a remedy for my homesickness, at least with my friends. Not only would I receive supportive comments on my status updates or postings on my wall motivating me to keep on pushing, but also I felt like I was making a difference in my community by leaving home. Facebook allowed me to feel like I was in Dallas at times. I knew what friends were doing, so I knew that the only thing I was not taking part of in my city was the record breaking hot temperatures. Facebook allowed me to stay connected more than ever, but it just wasn’t enough. 

I took it day by day. Every moment in class was a challenge. I know I am smart and a great student but it was unbelievably hard to compete and understand some of the words used by my professors and classmates alike. Even though I was born in the United States, my first language was Spanish and it shows in my writing. Most of the feedback that I received was that I write the way I speak. I am playing a constant game of catch up with my country’s language, but at the same time I go home and have to communicate with my family in the only language they know: el español.

The stress of trying to succeed in class made me miss my family even more. I do not want to disappoint them. And that pressure was something not even Facebook could fix. Hearing the voices of my family throughout the day made me feel good, but it wasn’t enough either. I was grateful for technology because it allowed me to webcam with my parents and siblings, and that made all the difference in the world. The first day I Skyped with my parents, tears was what I saw, but after several days those tears transformed into smiles.  Being able to see my family through a screen made it so much easier to study, to focus. My little brother who is eight years old took it upon himself to grab the computer and call me himself and that gave me the strength to make it. Although I was hundreds of miles away, technology made me feel close to home. 

Soon I discovered I was not alone; all the Latinos I met at Georgetown had the same feelings I had. Everyone missed home. Every Latino that I met was tired of burgers because every Latino wanted a home cooked meal of beans and rice. The great part about the Latinos I met was that we connected, even if none of them were of Mexican descent like me. Many were from the República Dominicana, El Salvador, Trinidad y Tobago, Colombia and the list goes on and on. It was amazing that we were all heart broken Latino teens, but we managed to make a family with each other to fight the homesickness.

August 23, 2011   6 Comments

Teen Texting: An Addiction

I brought this article back to the top because we have some exciting news on this subject that we can hopfully share in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned. 

Kids say they just can’t help it: They pretty much text all day long —while driving, eating and based on the number of messages being sent, you could argue that even while sleeping.

Has texting become the new way of communicating or has it evolved into an addiction?  Let me put it this way, texters often can’t recall what is going on in their surroundings because they were so involved in looking down at their phones.  It is just a part of their culture and lifestyle.  Many teens have actually openly expressed that it is hard not to text.  Socializing with friends is a natural part of growing up. But some psychiatrists and health care professionals are now saying that it is quickly becoming unhealthy, and in some cases even dangerous. [Read more →]

June 17, 2011   10 Comments

The Future of Multicultural Marketing in America

Talk about a student that truly understands not only the importance of the Hispanic market, but the future and how it is changing.  Thank you Neleen Leslie for your insight. 

The Future of Multicultural Marketing in America:

The changing US population continues to influence marketing practice; a multicultural approach is no longer a choice for companies, it is now essential for success. While there has been a movement towards a more multicultural focus in many major companies across America, the phenomenon can still be considered to be relatively new. There is no question that this will become a major part of the local marketing landscape, one adopted by all businesses not just large national and multinational corporations but there is a great deal to be learned before the practice of multicultural marketing moves to where it needs to be.

I believe that in advancing the understanding of multicultural marketing among not just businesses but the nation as a whole, a foundation will have to be established that is based on certain key principles.

Understanding what it truly means to be multicultural

Companies have come to realize that “money is just as green when spent by people of color” (Rossman, 1994) and by people of color, I mean everyone who is not classified as non- Hispanic white. In an attempt to tap into the earning potential of these “minority segments”, businesses have tried to engage these consumers and to create connections with their brands. While some companies have an inkling of what multiculturalism and multicultural marketing specifically, is about, there is yet to be a widespread understanding of what that really means for businesses today. Multicultural marketing cannot be confined to segmenting based on race or ethnicity, as this can easily become a form of cultural tokenism (Rao, 2006) where we appear to include rather than to truly understand and target. Being multicultural means understanding that the general market has changed, the diversity of the population has resulted in such levels of cultural integration that we can no longer separate people based on race alone.

“The concept of a “melting pot” is rendered obsolete as people of all races, ethnicities, languages and ancestries live and thrive together, while still preserving important aspects of their heritage and culture. In this new, urban market, it is essential to get beyond ethnic segmentation and understand that it is the very intermingling of cultures and ethnicities that defines the urban sensibility. And the urban market is not just the inner city of New York or parts of Los Angeles – the urban market is America” (Waterson , 2004)

The future of multicultural marketing will require that we embrace the ethnic and cultural diversity of this country and begin to view the market through different lenses. Ads that target Hispanics will be both Spanish and English speaking and it will be understood that Hispanics can be of many races. It will also be understood that Asians are not all the same: Filipinos are different from Chinese and while they have some overlapping cultural values, there are differences that are worth understanding (Mueller, ).

The future of multicultural marketing will have to go beyond “labeling and lumping” for the purpose of targeting. Ethnic groups will no longer be satisfied with just seeing themselves appearing in ads, they will begin to demand that messages really target them if these brands wish to be considered. The importance of being truly multicultural will be so important to the bottom line that we will voluntarily (or involuntarily) venture out of our comfort zones and begin to see that being multicultural goes much further than ethnic diversity.

Eliminating the ‘minority mindset”

Most of the literature today on multicultural marketing continue to refer to the non- Hispanic white population as ethnic minorities. Rao (2006) defines ethnic minorities as “population groups that are small in number and by definition less than the majority mainstream population”. This definition I believe, while may be technically correct if viewed from one aspect, is also incorrect. There are few ethnic groups in the United States that are small in number, certainly not the three major recognized “minority” groups and while they are currently less than the non- Hispanic white population, in a few years this will no longer be true. According to the Geoscape AMDS 2011, the population of the three largest ethnic groups will be more than 110.5 million and by 2050, they will be about the same size as the non- Hispanic white population.

Classifying these groups as ethnic minorities is part of a mindset that will have to change in order for multicultural marketing to grow and develop into what it ought to be. This classification is conducive to an “us and them” kind of thinking (not to be confused with us versus them), which not only separates people of different ethnicities but also underestimates the sheer size and influence of these groups. Rao (2006) also says “it no longer makes sense to talk about ethnic minorities as a single group because of the growing differences within and between ethnic minority groups” and while this is true, I believe that it goes even further. I believe that multicultural marketing will need to move past ethnic minorities and into cocultures. Mueller (2008) advocated the “coculture” philosophy, which sees the various ethnic groups and their cultures as existing alongside the culture of the non- Hispanic white population. Classifying these groups as minorities is very similar to classifying their cultures as subcultures, which denotes that they are inferior to mainstream culture.

This, I believe is where multicultural marketing is headed. Waterson (2004) describes the future as the age of cultural hybridity which will the characterized by “the sharing and intermingling of one culture with another…It goes beyond acculturation, because cultural hybridity does not imply that any one culture is changed, but rather that a new, different and entirely unique culture is created”.

Redefining the Mainstream or General Market

What is the mainstream market? At first glance it may seem like a simple question but it really is not, what used to be considered mainstream 50, 20 or even 10 years ago does not obtain today. I believe that multicultural marketing of the future will see a completely new definition of “mainstream” or “general market”. Mueller (2008) and Morse (2009) have discussed the importance of developing multicultural intelligence, understanding that the mainstream market is not what it is used to be. In fact, mainstream culture in itself is a contradiction, items such as food that are considered o be “all American” have their roots in other cultures and are the result of immigrants taking these things with them from their homelands, superstars such as Halle Berry, Vin Diesel, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys appear on the covers of main stream magazines almost as much as non-Hispanic stars, platinum selling and Grammy award winning artistes such as 50 cent, Eminem and Rihanna have given birth to a generation where music has transcended race and though branded as American, is a composite of cultures across the world and represents the new mainstream.

What I mean to say is this, the general market can no longer be seen as non- Hispanic whites, nor can we take it for granted that their values are the same. The new mainstream is a mosaic consisting of people of all races who have grown into a culture that has roots in many different cultures. Their values reflect this, their consumption reflect this and marketing communication will also need to reflect this.

Conducting in-depth primary and secondary research

If the mainstream market has changed, this means that there is now a need for a shift in how multicultural research is done. This research needs to be relevant and specifically designed for the new market (Rossman, 1994). This is similar to the approach taken when targeting any market segment, multicultural marketing should be no different. Preconceived notions about the market no longer stand and new understanding needs to be developed. This new body of knowledge cannot stem solely from secondary research; we need to gather fresh insights that are not tainted by unconsciously ethnocentric viewpoints. This does not mean we will throw out everything that we currently think we know but the same information may need to be viewed from a new angle. Observation of this new breed of consumers is also vital and will assist in understanding them and putting past research into perspective.

Research will continue to be a way of life in multicultural marketing. As we are beginning to understand, the multicultural market is changing and will continue to change into the foreseeable future. In order to continue this understanding of the market, we will need to be tracking the trends and changes in behavior. What obtained two years before will unlikely to continue to hold in the present day. This phenomenon will never change; multicultural marketing will require a commitment to truly understanding the target audience and in order to do that we will need to research.

Understanding cultural dynamics

While we understand that culture is a major determinant of consumer behavior and regardless of what we thought before, we now know that America is not the melting pot it was theorized to be (Rossman, 1994), there is still much to be done in understanding the various cultures that exist in this country. In understanding the cultural diversity of the consumer market, we need to begin looking beyond the obvious- what consumers say and do and begin to unearth the whys, and as a result “open new doors to the minds of cultures” (Rapaille, 2001). There are many unconscious codes that are the foundations of cultures and no matter how much we ask, consumers will never be able to articulate. It is therefore imperative for us to pursue and in- depth understanding of culture in order to unlock the nuggets that are the key to connecting with consumers (Mueller, 2008).

Consumers do not just consume products for their functional values; brands have taken on new meanings and have become symbols to consumers. Products therefore have to meet unspoken needs and move towards establishing relationships that are synergistic, symbolic and symbiotic. The culture of multicultural consumers is akin to another language that we need to learn to speak in order to communicate with them in a meaningful way (Rapaille, 2001).

Segmentation and targeting

Segmentation of the multicultural market as has been established will need to go beyond race or ethnicity since multiculturalism itself is so wide. As cited in Rao (2006), multiculturalism encompasses race, nationalism, gender, ethnicity, sexuality as well as philosophical and political ideologies. Multiculturalism also includes religious beliefs, the growing Jewish and Moslem community who have come to represent increasingly powerful and distinct consumer groups; the disabled population is another segment that adds to the diversity of the multicultural landscape.

This makes it necessary for new bases of segmentation to be developed for this new marketplace. The LGBT, disabled, Jewish and Moslem market segments are just a few segments that transcend race and will require a new form of targeting. Segmentation will play a very important role in marketing in the future as consumer segments will continually have to be redefined.

We are moving towards an age where segmentation and targeting will be geared at reaching people with similar values and beliefs and share an appreciation for similar product attributes and benefits. I believe that what Morse (2008) describes as the “wink and prayer” will be an important part of targeting the new general market. Not only will advertisements and marketing campaigns show racially diverse images but messages will have strong cultural undertones that resound with people of different groups who have similar values. This of course will not only be limited to advertising, after all, advertising sometimes may not be the answer to reaching certain segments.

Marketing will take on a multicultural focus that extend beyond media campaigns, but begin to become integrated in communities, investing in initiatives that are important to the target audience and creating symbiotic relationships that will see brands adopted as part of cocultures in America.

By Neleen Leslie
Florida State University

Geoscape, American Marketscape DataStream 2011 Series.
Morse, D.R. (2009). Multicultural Intelligence: Eight Make-or-Break Rules for Marketing to Race, Ethnicity, and Sexual Orientation. Paramount Market Publishing.
Mueller, Barbara (2008). Communicating with the Multicultural Consumer. Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
Rao, C.P. (2006). Marketing and Multicultural Diversity. Ashgate publishing Ltd.
Rapaille, G. C. (2001). 7 secrets of marketing in a multi-cultural world. Provo, Utah: Executive Excellence Pub.
Rossman, M. L. (1994). Multicultural marketing: Selling to a diverse America. New York: AMACOM.
Waterson, A. (2004). The Dawning of Multicultural America. Horotwitz Associates Inc. Annual Forum on the State of Cable and Broadband.

April 4, 2011   3 Comments

Guest post about Lateens

guest post by Laura Elena Morales Garza

My name is Laura Elena and I’m a psychologist and an English teacher, with a Master’s Degree on Linguistics in English. I started teaching at 17 and have been doing so for the last 30 years. I’ve taught ESL in all levels, from elementary school through University, and from beginners – advanced. For the last 13 years I’ve been teaching at a private university in Mexico, and have been in charge of the language department for the last 5. I’m currently teaching the advanced level and my main focus is to have students become proficient in the use of the language; most of my students have  had contact with English since they were toddlers, and have studied in bilingual schools, or private schools where ESL is a very important part of the school curriculum.

As part of my Advanced English class I decided to use some of the material from  I selected 13 different entries, printed them out and gave a different one to each student. My students read them on their own and then we all sat down together to share and discuss each story.

My class is made up of 19 students with an Advanced English level, with a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of over 550 pts. They are all freshmen in a Private University, and most of them started learning ESL since they were 5 or 6 years old.

The whole activity took about 80 minutes and students shared and discussed personal experiences:

  • A girl had lived for some time in the USA and she had the experience of working as an interpreter for some government agency; among the things she had to do were to tell people they had lost their job, or that they were required to have certain papers in order for them to receive some service. She had to do this with people who spoke only Spanish, and she had to live difficult moments when these people asked her to help them and to tell her employer not to fire them or to ask for something. She said she couldn’t do all this, she only had to translate and she couldn’t help these people, making her have mixed feelings.
  • Several  students have had the experience of helping their parents when they have gone to the States as the parents don’t speak English and they do; so they’ve been translators several times and under different circumstances. One of the boys has not only been a translator when traveling, but he’s had to help with the business; his father has  a franchise from an international company, and he’s had to help with contracts and business issues. He feels the pressure, as a  lot depends on his performance, and not only the written papers, but also on the interviews and phone calls he constantly has to make.
  •  The students mentioned how they identify with the description of Lateens depicted in several stories, even though they are Mexicans living in Mexico, they feel they have the same roots, share cultural experiences and family stories.
  •  About homosexuality they feel that it’s a big taboo in our society, so they concluded that it must be really difficult for a lateen to accept his/her homosexuality. Mixed feelings, which are normal in these cases, become even stronger when lateens are living in an “open” society, but in a very narrow-minded culture at home.
  •  When talking about reading students reported how little they read! It is a big problem in our country, and students are used to reading only when it is mandatory for school – several of them even reported that the only reading they have done this semester are the two books that are mandatory for my subject!  I asked them if they were read to when they were children, and only 3 or 4 students remembered being read to before going to bed.  We have a Chinese exchange student girl in this class and she had never had this experience, she even had trouble understanding what I meant, but then she grasped the idea and was happy to report that her grandmother always told her stories before going to bed – reading to children is not part of her culture, but telling stories is, and it normally is done by elders.
  •  There were a lot of comments on how Hispanics will be taking over a few years from now, as long as they become aware of the power they can have should they decide to continue studying. Given the large number of Hispanics living in the US, education and unity can make the difference.

All in all the activity proved to be very productive, not only because students were able to practice their English, but because through a meaningful experience they were able to analyze and discuss current problems that we sometimes don’t know about. We normally look at immigration problems related to deportation or jobs our migrants may obtain. Brandlateen blog gave us an insight into everyday situations, and it gave us an opportunity to reflect and analyze our own life.

After class, and to round up the activity, the students were asked to go into the web page and give feedback to either the entry they had read in class, or to a different one. It was very satisfactory to learn that most of them read some more of the entries and gave feedback to a different one from the one they had originally read.

March 26, 2011   3 Comments