Why The Total Market Theory Isn’t Working With Latinos

The total market theory has been dominant in traditional media for a couple of years now. But, other platforms like social media continue to rely on segmentation, targeting Hispanics through multicultural marketing. They are successful because they are out-in-the-open double agents.

Article written by Ismalis Mendoza Maldonado, founder of Maldonado Marketing & Interactive Consulting

In 1988, at an elementary school in Woburn, MA, my new double identity was born. It started with what my new elementary school teacher may have thought was an innocent question of: “why do you have two last names?” From then on, I was no longer Ismalis Mendoza Maldonado- I was simply Ismalis Mendoza.

Total Market Theory
Ismalis Mendoza Maldonado, founder of Maldonado Marketing & Interactive Consulting.

My new double identity led me to walk a fine line between the real me and the assimilated me. At home I could speak Spanish, dance, laugh and be loud. Outside of home, I had to speak English, study hard and prove to everyone that although I was learning a new language, I was still just as smart as everyone else.

My 007 lifestyle has always kept me driven.

This delicate balancing act has always kept me driven. Just like many other Latinos in the United States, I perfected my life as a double agent. I’m not going to lie, my 007 lifestyle has always kept me driven. As of early 2023, I sit back and grapple with the fact that my double agent lifestyle has come to an end. Thanks to Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s Real ID law which has a racist and anti-immigrant undertone, they accidentally gave me my original identity back. For the first time ever, my government identification reflects the original me, Ismalis Mendoza Maldonado.

Now what do I do? Is it safe for me to end my double agent life as a marketer?

I started my professional career in advertising/marketing in the early 2000s. Back then, the only opportunities I was able to secure were ones in Spanish or Multicultural agencies. In my mind, there was this unspoken stigma that maybe I wasn’t good enough to secure a ‘general market role.

They weren’t ashamed to say that they needed the Hispanic consumer and with it came ad dollars.

The double agent in me always thought, I know I am good enough and I have made it when they let me do this in English. There was absolutely nothing second-tier about my work on behalf of my clients or the multicultural agencies I worked for. I quickly became a spectator to a wonderful and blossoming US-Hispanic and Latin American marketing cycle. Anglo agencies were constantly looking for Hispanic market talent and buying out Hispanic/Multicultural agencies. It seemed like all a sudden all these brands and large marketing conglomerates realized that Hispanics have money to spend, are fiercely loyal, and are early adapters to anything technology based.

They weren’t ashamed to say that they needed the Hispanic consumer and with it came ad dollars. This of course came to an end as quickly as it started to find its groove. The concept of “total market” took over and crushed ad dollars. It also started taking money and autonomy from multicultural agencies.

There was no need to court our economic power or brand loyalty because we were now part of the total market.

It soon became a trend that started to erode those things that were different and special about multicultural marketing. There was no need to court our economic power or brand loyalty because we were now part of the total market. This total market theory has been dominant in traditional media for a couple of years now. In the background, social media and content creators have proven that the total market is just totally wrong. Of all the successful and lucrative social media agencies and content creators are those who have refused to adapt their content to the total market. They are successful because they are out-in-the-open double agents. They speak to the part of us that is inside and outside the home.

Total Market Theory: No more marketing sidelines

There are a lot of marketers and brands out there scrambling right now and I would like to personally thank Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio known as Bad Bunny. His massive success in the music industry has brands and marketers scratching their heads. They are trying to figure out how this happened.

While total market looked to subdue the power of the Hispanic ad dollar, social media and other industries were increasing the appetite.

They are wondering ‘how did we overlook this and how can we capitalize on this?’ While the total market looked to subdue the power of the Hispanic ad dollars, social media and other industries were increasing their appetite. The total market, like the Real ID policy, has given us an opportunity to take our identities and marketing power back. Like Bad Bunny’s El Apagón says: ”Ahora todos quieren ser Latino. Pero les falta sazón.” Multicultural agencies and marketers are the “sazón”.

It is estimated that Major League Baseball is over 33% Latino, yet these talented athletes who are a strong fabric of our communities have also suffered due to total market.

As I embark on my new career pivot of certified agent for MLB and NBA players, I keep this lesson close to my heart. It is estimated that Major League Baseball is over 33% Latino, yet these talented athletes who are a strong fabric of our communities have also suffered due to the total market. They don’t receive the endorsement, attention, and marketing dollars that their Anglo counterparts receive.

For over half a century, our favorite Latino stars have sat on the marketing sidelines. I intend on helping those players change that and along the way push multicultural marketing to its rightful place.

Article written by Ismalis Mendoza Maldonado, founder of Maldonado Marketing & Interactive Consulting