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Advertisers across America are turning  to leading Latinas like Salma Hayek and Jennifer Lopez to be the faces of their marketing campaigns. Experts say these ladies not only resonate with the growing number of Hispanics in the United States, but also with a broader audience. TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports.

Madison Avenue turns to Latinas to sell

Latinas are changing the face of America, literally. You can see Sofia Vergara on Pepsi billboards in New York City, Eva Mendes on Pantene’s website homepages and Eva Longoria on television selling the latest make-up foundation for L’Oreal.   The Today Show’s Natalie Morales has this video story.

It’s all part of an effort by companies to reach out to both the coveted, burgeoning Hispanic market and the general public.

“This whole idea of multi-cultural marketing, Hispanic marketing,” says Javier Farfan, director of cultural branding at PepsiCo, “If we really want to elevate the movement, we have to reflect what the consumer is about and what the consumer needs, as opposed to the way the marketplace is set up now.”

Pepsi is one of the brands betting that what the consumer wants are big-time Latino stars.

Sofia Vergara and Pepsi have linked up because of her history with the company and because it views her as someone with a deep connection with U.S. Latinos.

“Her first commercial was with Pepsi in Latin America in Colombia,” Farfan says.

“Secondly, she grew up within our space. Second and third generation Latinos pay homage to her because of her relationship with the community. She’s somebody who has succeeded within the Hispanic community so there is already an affinity to her because of that.”

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Pantene uses Eva Mendes to market to U.S. Latinos as well as to the general market. (Courtesy Pantene)

Ricardo Sanchez, Pantene’s Hispanic marketing manager, says Eva Mendes was the perfect spokesperson for the company.

“Over the past decade, we have seen not only that the Hispanic market has grown at an amazing pace, but also how the Latino culture is influencing America’s mainstream,” he says. “This was an opportunity to talk to the Latina AND to the general market using a single voice. Eva is an excellent representation of the “Mujer Latina,” who has lived all her life in the United States but keeps strong ties to her culture and roots.”

Sanchez says catering to Latinas is about more than their purchasing power.

“Beyond the growth in their purchasing power, Latinas are becoming icons of style and beauty. Understanding their habits and practices becomes imperative in order to succeed in the Hair Care category.”

Huge Latina stars are not the only targets of big companies. Microsoft’s Bing featured up and coming independent movie director, Aurora Guerrero, in its YouTube series, Bing Originals.

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CoverGirl also makes use of Sofia Vergara right on its homepage. Vergara is their celebrity spokesperson. (Screenshot)

“How do you inspire others?” Bing asked on its Facebook page. “Watch Aurora Guerrero’s document her trailblazing journey.”

“I make films about real people and real places,” Guerrero says in the video about her movie with autobiographical elements. “My feature film is a story about two 15-year-old Chicanas who are growing up in Southeast LA.”

In talking about Vergara, who is also the CoverGirl spokesperson, Pepsi’s Farfan ties together the lure for brands in matching up these Latina stars with the changing American consumer.

“Sofia Vergara wears her ethnicity on her sleeve,” Farfan says. “She’s speaking in Spanish at the Golden Globes and on Modern Family she speaks to her family in Spanish.”

“This is the natural space of where the American culture is at now. She symbolizes that transition.”

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