Thoughts and Pictures from the Immigration Rally in Chicago

02 May 2007|Miguel Winebrenner

Yesterday, a client and I attended the 2nd annual immigration rally in Chicago- we were mainly attracted to it by the fact that there would be 150,000 Hispanics participating, and we believed marching along would be helpful in making some sense of the myriad of quantitative data we had recently garnered on Hispanics. The experience was incredibly educational in that it allowed us to confirm things we knew about the market (albeit it wasn’t exactly a representative picture of the marketplace due to the nature of the rally and given that most of the participants were Hispanic Dominant) and led to the generation of some hypotheses regarding the changing dynamic in the marketplace.

Specifically, I left the rally with the following three thoughts:

1. Given the overwhelming proportion of American to (mostly) Mexican flags, I was led to believe/confirm that the past immigration marches a year ago- and the political backlash to the number of Mexican flags that were prevalent then- have a significant effect on the process of acculturation. Although you can argue that having more American flags this year was a political move to gain consensus from the “majority,” it nonetheless suggests that (regardless of motive) there is a trend in the making which will likely result in the less acculturated Hispanics wanting to take part in activities (like raising the U.S. flag and speaking English) that will speed up their acculturation process. The implications of this in terms of marketing are too early to pinpoint with exactitude, but I believe that it confirms that the growing Bicultural population is an even faster moving train coming at us and that communications geared at Hispanics will need to adapt in terms of not only language relevance, but also pyschographics.

2. In addition to being a revealing experience in terms of acculturation, the rally also confirmed several “knowns” about the marketplace. Of particular interest to me were the sheer volume of families that attended. Hispanics showed up with their kids and made it a family activity, similar to how they shop and conduct most of their other activities- as a cohesive unit. I’ve argued many times that this doesn’t mean that other ethnic groups aren’t family-oriented, they are just as likely to feel close to their families, but the Hispanic market is unique in that more activities (that aren’t necessarily considered family-oriented by other ethnic groups) involve all family members. On another note, I also was engaged (and reminded) of the importance that religion plays in the Hispanic market. I saw several young males (not 60+ year old women) with religious figures- like the Virgen de Guadalupe- printed on their t-shirts. When a religious figure replaces a brand as the central theme on an accessory of self-expression like a t-shirt, you can’t escape the fact that effectively marketing to Hispanics requires understanding their deeply engrained sense of spirituality.

3. Finally, the rally served as a platform for observing the brands that Hispanics (particularly Hispanic Dominants) interact with. I saw all sorts of brands, but there were two that caught my attention the most because of the unique role that they were playing in the march- “Supremo” (a Mexican cheese brand) and “Corona.” Supremo was difficult to escape- there were several people (obviously paid) carrying signs that said “Supremo: Family, Tradition. Legalization for Everyone.” First let me clarify that there weren’t ads posted all around the rally, and there weren’t food stands or makeshift stores selling products throughout the streets like you’d see at a fair. It was very “commercial-free,” which I imagine is a city mandate for these events, not to mention probably sneered at by organizers because it minimizes the seriousness of the matter. That said, Supremo was the only brand that was taking an active role in the rally. You can say this is savvy, it’s despicable, it’s opportunistic, or whatever other adjective you feel is appropriate. And if you work for Kraft, you would say there’s no way you’d associate your brand with a political movement. However, if you do work for Kraft and you’re vying for the Hispanic cheese market (and you can’t, or don’t want to engage in these efforts) the fact of the matter is that Supremo is doing it. You can say it’s unfair because they don’t need to worry about the “majority”- this is their target market. But aside from the questions around being able market to Hispanics in this political context, it’s important to understand how the competition is trying to win their hearts over. The other brand that caught my attention was Corona. Let me say from the go that Corona was not marketing at the rally. However, I saw a teenager wearing a Fidel Castro-type cap (the green militant- looking one with the squared top) with the Corona logo on it. Again, Corona wasn’t part of the rally and I don’t know about the intentions of the merchandising, but I couldn’t help think how well it played within the context of Che Guevara posters, signs about the rights of workers, etc. The brand seemed to relate to this cause, and it reminded me (and my client) that regardless of what opportunities you decide to execute on, the Hispanic consumer does have a different set of motivations/values/struggles/meanings.

To see my pictures click here

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