Look Who’s Speaking Spanglish

Last week I made media pitches to the editors of Spanish publications in South Florida as part of my internship at Moore Consulting Group’s Hispanic Marketing Department. While the majority of voicemail menus were offered in English and Spanish, I didn’t want to pass up what these days is the rare opportunity for me to speak Spanish. Still, occasionally I had a slip of the tongue when I broke into English during several conversations. That’s when I’d have my equivalent of a Homer Simpson “D’OH!” moment. “Grrr. Digo correo electrónico, no e-mail!”, the voice inside my head would say.

It seems that many of today’s music artists like Pitbull, Shakira and Sie7e (pronounced Siete) don’t feel the same frustration when the lyrics of their potential hit-singles turn to Spanglish. These are just a few of the artists that have managed to create a strong connection with a fan-base who appreciates their authenticity. Because our sense of identity is defined socially, such public figures are part of a unique reference group with the potential to influence our cultural identity

Like many fans, they too strive to maintain cultural roots, yet are regularly exposed to U.S. mainstream culture on a daily basis. Cuban-American rapper Pitbull released a Spanish-language album 2 years ago, but he rapped primarily in English when he burst onto the music scene in 2002. “I decided to rap in English and throw in simple words in Spanish, and even the gringos were speaking Spanish”, he stated at the 2010 AHAA Annual Conference, perhaps as an indirect reference to his listeners’ varied levels of acculturation.

Earlier this year, Sie7e explained why his music doesn’t have language barriers when he attended the conference as part of a group panel that examined how Spanglish has helped reach a new generation of audiences – “I want to sing how we talk through music”, he said. His recent album, Mucha Cosa Buena, which includes the bilingual hit “Tengo Tu Love”, helped him win the 2011 Latin Grammy Award for Best New Artist and proves that the Puerto Rican singer/songwriter is onto something. Check out Sie7e’s music video for “Tengo Tu Love” by clicking play below: 

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaShyjYClD8&ob=av3e

Perhaps these artists also feel that they shouldn’t have to choose between one language or the other precisely because of their dual identities. Lucky for us, when analyzing U.S. consumers a growing number of today’s music artists recognize our similarly complex needs, wants, values and attitudes. 

Are marketers taking notice of this reference group to make informed decisions regarding communication efforts targeting Hispanics? Tell us what you think.     

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