What’s the right language for print ads?

I t's not just about buying ad space. The language an ad is written in makes a big difference in how readers receive product information, or whether the information is received at all. How do advertisers choose the most effective language for print media ads targeting the diverse US Hispanic market?

Asked by Portadatm about the factors an advertiser considers when deciding whether to advertise in Spanish or English, Lauren Kuschner of People en español said, “That depends on their marketing strategy and whether they are marketing their product to an acculturated consumer, or to the bulk of the Hispanic market, which prefers Spanish language communication.”

Generally, products that are more culturally specific to the Latin American or Hispanic population will be advertised in Spanish or Spanglish. David Kahn, publisher of Latina, explains that “advertisers use Spanish as a way to touch a chord with the readers...Or Spanglish – the language of choice for young Latinos – to connect culturally with US Hispanic youth. An advertiser such as Twix, for example, uses very youthful Spanish and Spanglish in its ads, and is therefore relevant to our reader.” Also, ads for music and movies that are from Latin America or have a specifically Latin American cultural perspective (e.g. HBO Latino) will most likely be written in Spanish. On the other hand, products with a broader target audience and a more general appeal (banking, insurance or technology) will tend to be advertised in English (e.g. New York Life, Verizon Wireless, Microsoft). Some of these companies, like Microsoft, advertise in both Spanish and English, or in Spanish only (AFLAC).

It has to be noted that because Hispanic print media advertising is still in an early stage of development, advertisers don't always adapt their mainstream market ads for the Hispanic market. There are many ads published in English which, if given a second thought, might have been published in Spanish or Spanglish.

The choice of language has a lot do with the creative. Image-driven ads make language choice much less relevant. Latina publisher David Kahn explains that “fashion and beauty advertising tends to be image-driven and therefore a translation isn't necessary. Beauty ads by companies such as L'Oreal and Estée Lauder are composed of sumptuous images of models or products. Nike is another good example of this. Their ads are almost entirely visual.”


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Editorial Staff

Portada Staff

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