The Importance of Advertising to Latinos in the Upcoming U.S. Presidential Elections

July 2, 2012

With over 21.3 million registered voters, it is clear that the United States’ Latino population will have a significant impact in the upcoming presidential elections this November. At the same time, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have faltered in their respective advertising campaigns when it comes to marketing themselves to Latino voters. While the Los Angeles Times observes that Obama has failed keep “pace with the rapidly increasing size and sophistication of the Latino population, which climbed to 50.5 million in the 2010 census, from 35.3 million a decade earlier,” the President has catered to the Latino population in other ways. For example, he has a “Spanish-language website, a Twitter feed for Latinos, an English-language website targeted at Latinos and a Spanish-language website on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” in addition to announcing his decision to allow young undocumented Latinos to remain in the United States. Romney, on the other hand, seems to have exerted the absolute minimum amount of effort in his Latino advertising campaign, despite having outspent Obama thus far overall. News correspondants and Latino consultants have claimed that Romney’s Spanish-language ads are nothing more than clunky translations of his English-language commercials. This is a poor advertising strategy not only because it does not address issues pertinent to the Latino community such as education, health care, and immigration reform, but because the poor translation of idiomatic expressions used in his English-language commercials demonstrate a lack of effort. When the ads do address the aforementioned issues, they have a counterproductive effect. In the ad called “Día Uno” (an awkward translation of the idiom, “Day One,” notes Latino media correspondant Melisa Diaz), Romney exclaims that he would repeal Obama’s health care plan–something that directly benefits many Latinos–on the first day of his presidency. Clearly, Romney is not relying on the Latino vote to win the election; a recent poll showed Obama was favored by Latinos over Romney, 66% to 26%.

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