Spanish is not Just Spanish

Three Mistakes To Avoid When Producing Your First Spanish Spot
If it’s one, piece of advice we’d share with the clients, production firms and advertising agencies that are developing Hispanic marketing material, we’d tell them, “Spanish is not Spanish”.  Sure, Spanish is a language spoken by millions in America, Mexico, Central America, South America and Europe and hence we make our first point, Spanish is not Spanish. Americans are a highly ethnocentric bunch. We think the world revolves around us and many of us find it impossible to point out where other countries are on a map. We’re the same way when it comes to language.

One thing we can discern with our ears is that English is not English. English is spoken in many countries but we can tell the difference between those who come from different regions. We can tell who comes from New York City and Boston with their unique accents, we can hear the drawl of a Southern Belle from the state of Georgia and even those who speak the Kings English from Great Britain or even Australia.
However, when advertising to the ever growing Hispanic population, brands are apt to simply translate copy into Spanish and call it a day. They might even use tools like google translate or ask the bilingual person on staff to translate it, but this is simply not. good. enough.  Below are three things we highly recommend when translating your English copy into Spanish.
First, hire a professional bilingual Spanish copywriter, not just a translator, these are two different jobs. Language is a creative art and utilizing it effectively to convey your message is critical for to get your brands message understood effectively. A “word for word” translation of your copy is ineffective and unrealistic. A Spanish copy writer will do more than just translate your copy. A Spanish copywriter will “transcreate” your idea starting from the basis of the Spanish language instead of simply translating from A-B. Transcreation uses the entire language and culture to effectively convey your ideas in the native language.  In addition, they’ll consider the target audience you’re trying to reach as Spanish should be written in the dialect that is most common to the targeted Latino audience, location and nationality.
Second, hire a bilingual Spanish voice over director. Latinos have varying opinions of Spanish accents and the nations they derive from. This opinion can easily hurt your brands message. Since most Latinos carry the accent they were raised with, a Spanish VO director can help direct the pronunciation of the actor to ensure that the vernacular is delivered correctly for the target audience and can ensure the success of your commercial spot.
Third, hire professional bilingual Spanish talent. Many professional organizations without understanding the many complexities of the Spanish language, or considering their target audience, have simply asked someone on their staff who speaks Spanish to translate the message and even read the script for a voice over recording. This is a disservice not only to the brand, but also to the staffer who’s being asked to do work that is most likely outside of their normal responsibilities. A professional Spanish voice over talent has the acting skillset that utilizes intonation, accents and articulation to ensure your brands message is delivered effectively and can mean the difference of Latinos rejecting or embracing your brands message.
Marketing to the Hispanic and Spanish speaking market takes serious consideration. U.S. Hispanics have been the largest minority group in the United States for almost twenty years and our projected growth rate is in the triple digits. In addition, U.S. Hispanic consumers are the 7th largest consumer group in the world outpacing many developed countries. Producing  effective copy and utilizing a professional Spanish director and actor can have huge returns when the target audience feels like the brand is authentic in their advertising.
Nicholas Segura is the founder of the only ethnic talent agency in the Midwest. The agency has worked with directly with advertising agencies and brands to find talent for their print, broadcast and VO work for 15 years.

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