Another weekend, and another box office victory for Disney Pixar’s CoCo, the animated smash hit, which has earned over $108 million since its pre-Thanksgiving release. The film has drawn praise from critics and moviegoers alike, and has struck a particular chord, emotionally, with the U.S. Latino demographic market segment.
For those unfamiliar with the film, Coco is the story of Miguel, a 12-year-old boy in Mexico looking to connect with his ancestors on el Día de Muertos, or Day of The Dead, the Mexican holiday where the dead are remembered, honored and celebrated by friends and family members. As the film depicts, this often involves the building of an altar, or ofrenda, to which family members add photos and the favorite foods, drinks and possessions of the deceased.
CoCo should be required viewing for any marketer looking to engage the U.S. Latino market as authentically, tastefully and creatively as the film does: Aside from the music, food/drink and vibrant colors Coco beautifully illustrates, it masterfully pulls back the curtain on the Latino family dynamics behind that culture’s collective family decision-making process, as well as on how elders and ancestors are cared for, remembered and revered, plus Latin culture’s symbolic emphasis on the spiritual.
Even the power of an abuelita’s chancla (a grandmother’s sandal, used to lightly spank a misbehaving child) is lightheartedly incorporated as an inside joke in the film — an authentic nod to Latino viewers who can relate.
Are Latinos in your customer base? Below are five important lessons Coco can offer you and other marketers looking to engage the United States’ 52 million Latino consumers:
Whether yours is an influencer campaign targeting millennials on social media, or an earned media effort reaching baby boomers, it may be one of the many marketing/PR efforts today that are developed and executed with a specific demographic in mind.
CoCo, in fact, reaches and tells the story of an entire multigenerational household, creatively developing characters, motivations and back stories across many ages, from 12-year-old Miguel, to the wheelchair-bound great-grandmother. Content that performs well within the Latino demographic is often that which can be shared, understood and related to by an entire household.
Similarly, Coca-Cola succeeded in multigenerational storytelling with its Mother’s Day Inseparable campaign. That video begins with a Latina singing a lullaby to her daughter, with whom she later shares a Coke when the girl arrives home from school.
The daughter then grows up and sings the same lullaby to the baby inside her own womb, gazed upon by her mother, about to be an abuela, herself. This signifies the passing of a cultural tradition between mother and daughter. The video concludes with the abuela and her grandson some years later, bonding over a bottle of Coca-Cola, completing and continuing the family tradition.
Learn from your mistakes.
The journey of the film’s success cannot be told without revisiting an earlier incident that sparked tremendous backlash against the entertainment giant. Disney’s initial attempt at the animated depiction of the Day of the Dead included an actual trademark application for the Mexican holiday back in 2013. This drew the ire of many, who accused Disney of cultural appropriation. Within two weeks, Disney withdrew its trademark filing, released an official statement and went back to the drawing board.
Disney is not the first, and certainly will not be the last brand, to commit an unfortunate PR/marketing blunder involving cultural appropriation. However, everyone can learn from how it attempted to course-correct the project’s itinerary. How Disney handled and reacted to the backlash — going beyond the usual corporate statement or creation of a diversity and inclusion position to manage public perception — set the company apart from other brands making cultural mistakes. Think: Pepsi, with its Kendall Jenner ad, and Dove’s seemingly never-ending series of race and beauty ad controversies.
Instead, Disney extended an invitation to animators, actors and cultural experts of Latino descent to not just have a voice and a seat at the table, but also a final say and input as co-creators. Results of that cross-cultural collaborative effort were evident in every aspect of Coco, including its language/accent pronunciation, cultural observances and family dynamic.
Putting together a team with multicultural insights and experiences that can inform, shape and guide the creative process minimizes the consequences of not having the budget to incorporate multicultural insights up-front, or a team to address backlash during the final stage ad/marketing/PR campaign. The latter point, in fact, is too late to to address concerns regarding cultural appropriation.
Tap into customs and traditions, not stereotypes.
Thanks to the authentic input and insights in its development, CoCo authentically incorporated many Mexican customs and traditions without playing to the lowest common denominator or, worse, committing cultural appropriation. Yes, there were mariachi bands, sombreros, tacos and tequila prevalent throughout the film. But everything served a purpose and contributed toward the film’s broader cultural context.
One digital content platform that gets this right is mitú, which produces and distributes digital content geared toward Latino millennials. From creating memorable characters, such as an “abuela,” to stand-up monologues about growing up in a Latino household, mitú’s ability to blend humor with cultural intelligence has enabled it to reach and engage with a large audience in a short period of time.
Finally, there’s the language issue: Even as Coco was made available in a full-Spanish version in select U.S. cinemas and across Mexico, the filmmakers struck a healthy balance between English and Spanish-language dialogue. This helped avoid any alienation of English-speaking viewers, yet retained a sense of authenticity for native Spanish speakers. Additionally, the script’s word choice wasn’t limited to basic dictionary Spanish, but used colloquial terms and mannerisms many Latino households use affectionately.
Nearly three out of four U.S. Latino residents speak Spanish at home, while 68 percent speak English proficiently, according to Pew research data. Additionally, English-dominant, Latino millennials looking to strengthen their cultural connections are consuming content in both languages.
So, whether you’re developing social copy for a Latino-inspired food recipe, or drafting call-to-action language and key messaging on a healthcare campaign aimed at Latino boomers, it’s important, for developing a successful multicultural campaign, to understand the impact that authentic language selection and incorporation has on content performance.
Netflix acknowledged this trend and took an early lead in providing quality, original streaming content in English, Spanish and English/Spanish. Not only can the company’s Latino subscribers add popular Netflix originals such as Daredevil, Punisher and Master of None to their queue, but they also can enjoy bilingual and Spanish-language (i.e., not dubbed) original content such as Narcos, Ingobernable and Club de Cuervos, Netflix’s first foray into original Spanish-language programming.
By no means does CoCo serve as the definitive manual for reaching and engaging the U.S. Latino market, of course. A deeper sociocultural dive would almost certainly highlight missed opportunities and oversimplified characterizations throughout the film’s 109-minute run time. Additionally, the 52 million Latinos living in the United States come from or have generational and ancestral links to 33 countries throughout Latin America, each with its own cultural customs, family traditions and language dialects and nuances. So, there may very well arise more detailed objections to parts of the film.
However, marketers would be well served to incorporate the key lessons described here into their own future account planning and activation purposes. ¿Verdad? If not, they risk falling victim to that proverbial chancla.
Unilever Turns Up the Heat on Facebook & Google Over Tech’s ‘Unintended Consequences’
Unilever has issued a stern warning to digital platforms including Facebook, Google, and YouTube: do more to improve transparency and clean up the “swamp” of fake news, exploitative, and socially divisive content, or be cut off from its multi-billion dollar digital advertising budget.
CMO Keith Weed recently spoke at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership meeting held in Palm Desert, Calif. CNBC quotes him as saying, “We need to redefine what is responsible business in the digital age because for all of the good the tech companies are doing, there’s some unintended consequences that now need addressing.”
Two of the most important consequences being referred to include the threatening of safety of users, especially young children, and loss of trust by consumers and companies at large.
While it’s unlikely that Unilever will turn its back on the two largest digital platforms, Weed’s words matter because of the sheer amount of ad budget Unilever holds across its portfolio brands. MediaPost reports that in 2017, the company spent approximately $9.8 billion on marketing and advertising, a quarter of which went to digital.
Beyond the public denouncements, Unilever is also working with IBM to develop a blockchain with which the company can more effectively reduce ad fraud via a record of what media is purchased and how it is delivered.
A separate MediaPost article shares YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s response to Weeds comments on Monday. In her own statement at Recode’s Code Media conference, she assured,
“We want to do the right set of things to build [Unilever’s] trust. They are building brands on YouTube, and we want to be sure that our brand is the right place to build their brand.”
Recent efforts we’ve seen in support of this include significant updates to its Creator Program policy. Further, in light of the recent Logan Paul controversy involving a video in which a suicide victim was filmed inside a Japanese forest, the company has suspended running ads on his channel, per Ad Age.
While brand safety is a concern on the minds of many marketers, Unilever’s public comments this week indicate that brands are viewing the issue with a much broader lens, and seriously questioning the role these platforms play in people’s everyday lives, beyond the world of advertising. In this important cultural moment, people are looking to brands and platforms to assume responsibility and be proactive to keep their spaces safe, trustworthy, and suitable for communities.
To further explore the overarching question of how technology, including digital platform giants, can be used to bring us closer together versus further apart, join us at SMWNYC April 24-27. Register today and save 20%.
Facebook’s Next Step in Building Community: $10M in Grants
Facebook has made several important announcements as of late the support its mission to create more “meaningful communities.” The latest? Investment in a newly announced Community Leadership program designed to support its community-building leaders through a variety of residency and fellowship opportunities that offer training, support, and funding.
Here’s how it will work: Facebook will name five “community leaders in residence” and provide up to $1 million each to fund their proposals, in addition to providing them with the opportunity to attend a customized leadership development training session.
Moreover, Facebook will select 100 individuals to join its fellowship program and receive up to $50,000 each for a “specific community initiative.” They’ll also participate in four in-person gatherings during which they will have the chance to meet and collaborate with other fellows.
Another key initiative in the works? Expanding Facebook’s “engineering team for community safety,” which is headquartered in London. In particular, the company hopes to double the number of employees focused on such efforts including detecting and stopping fake accounts, protecting people from harm (e.g harassment and scams), and making it easier to report content, by the end of 2018.
Further, Facebook outlined new tools for group admins, including page personalization options (e.g. color and the ability to pin announcements to the top of the page), the ability to create and share group rules; and more features to monitor Group Insights.
Outside of its Communities Summit, but along the theme of ensuring time on the platform is time well spent, the company also confirmed last week it was testing a downvote button that would allow users to provide feedback on comments in particular. The downvote button is being tested within a limited group of U.S. users for the time being.
This is not to be confused with a “dislike” button, but rather a more “lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading”—this according to a Facebook spokesperson quoted in TechCrunch.
Here is what the button looks like in action:
As the screenshot depicts, the user will have the ability to select whether the post was found to be “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic,” the choices aimed to help guide Facebook’s course of action with respect to the particular piece of feedback.
Forbes adds that, the downvote option in its test mode only applies to public posts as opposed to Group posts or the Pages of public figures. It also doesn’t affect the ranking of the post and the number of downvotes a post gets won’t be publicly shared.
These initiatives by Facebook to reverse some of the negative perceptions of its role in society come at a critical time as brands and citizens alike are putting more and more pressure on the world’s leading tech platforms to course-correct their products for the safety of their users. Just this week, Unilever threatened to yank ad dollars from Facebook and Google due to the company’s growing dissatisfaction with their overall impact on society.
“We cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” stated Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, to the BBC.
Learn about Facebook’s increasingly complex role in society by joining SMWNYC April 24-27. The conference will offer multiple sessions designed to explore where brands and platforms fit into tech’s future in our world. Register today to secure your pass.
5 Ways Cryptocurrency Can Help Entrepreneurs in 2018
Cryptocurrency has revolutionized the way we transact value, invest our savings and raise capital with its decentralised digital cash system. Blockchain technology is a once-in-a-lifetime invention; never before in history have we been presented with such a breakthrough in financial technology. In 2018, entrepreneurs are well positioned to become early adopters of blockchain technology.
1. Raising capital
Cryptocurrency has disrupted the way early stage companies raise capital. With initial coin offerings, startups around the world can raise money quickly and cheaply from a wide pool of global investors. The valuation of a company is almost immediately reflected by the market, a process that has traditionally been challenging for early stage businesses. Shares are issued as tokens and tradable almost immediately, bringing large amounts of liquidity to the company.
This new approach to raising capital has changed the world and enabled the best technical talent to build their companies at high speed. In 2014, a teenager from Canada called Vitalik Buterin raised money for his startup, Ethereum, through an initial coin offering. He wanted to improve on Bitcoin’s blockchain and create a platform for people to build unstoppable applications. With just a whitepaper and a vision, he was able to successfully raise $18 million for his new blockchain, which was valued at over $100 billion as of January 2018.
2. Transacting value
Cryptocurrency enables us to transact value between peers without a centralized authority. It provides a cheaper, faster and more efficient alternative to traditional payment networks. As a company, accepting cryptocurrency payments is becoming increasingly efficient, saving on fees and bringing faster settlement. Soon, startups will no longer need to go through the long process of setting up a business bank account to receive and distribute funds. In 2014, Overstock.com became the first retailer to accept bitcoin, receiving over 800 orders worth $126,000 in bitcoin in the first 22 hours. It has since amassed a $403,000 portfolio of cryptocurrency.
3. Investing for the future
For entrepreneurs, cryptocurrency may be the investment opportunity of a lifetime. Never before in history have retail investors had investment access to high growth early stage companies. Traditionally, venture capital funds and private angel investors have held monopolies on access to investment in the world’s best technical talent. Cryptocurrency provides a gateway for anyone in the world to invest in the world’s most exciting technology, allowing retail investors to own a basket of high growth companies. For example, through the decentralized method of blockchain investment, teenager Erik Finnman was able to invest in Bitcoin in 2011, becoming a Bitcoin millionaire at age 18. These types of investment stories would not be possible with traditional private venture capital fundraising.
4. Developing on the blockchain
The blockchain offers powerful infrastructure for companies to run their technology and create entirely new business models in a trusted way without a centralized authority. Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the way startups create value. The Ethereum platform allows companies to build unstoppable blockchain applications quickly and for free. One example of a company leveraging the Ethereum blockchain is OmiseGO, a payments company that is using blockchain to provide banking services for the world’s 2 billion unbanked population. Blockchain technology is a cost-efficient way of building decentralized applications that can scale to a global population.
5. Joining the blockchain community
The blockchain community offers access to some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, who are actively investing, advising and building upon the blockchain. Telegram, Facebook, WeChat, Slack and WhatsApp groups have proved popular in building communities of decentralized blockchain investors who can communicate with each other on a daily basis. Many large investments in early stage technology companies can be coordinated within minutes, a process that would traditionally take months in traditional venture capital. For example, in 2017, Brave’s Basic Attention Token sale sold out of its $35 million offering within 30 seconds. The blockchain community offers a strong sense of purpose with all members committed to a common goal of advancing blockchain technology to global adoption.
Cryptocurrency provides a platform for entrepreneurs to raise capital quickly, cheaply and efficiently. Entrepreneurs can transact value through the blockchain at high speed with limited setup costs and invest in high growth technology companies at an early stage. Platforms like Ethereum allow entrepreneurs to build decentralized applications to a global audience for free. The blockchain community offers access to some of the top entrepreneurs, engineers and investors in the world and in 2018, cryptocurrency will continue to provide a viable means for entrepreneurs to create value in the world.
7 Ways to Get Recruiters and Job Offers to Come to You
“You are your own brand, and you need to build that brand and promote it as much as possible. It is important that you start building your brand online, because this is where employers are going to be looking for potential employees,” suggests Dima Midon, an expert from TrafficBox. Use all of the online tools at your disposal, particularly LinkedIn, which is a professional network that allows you to really promote yourself as a professional, and someone who is an expert in your field. This is a great tool for job seekers. Make sure that you keep your profile up to date, especially when it comes to contact information, so when an employer searches you, they will be able to contact you if they are interested in learning more.
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