Using Spanglish to Take Your Hispanic Marketing to the Next Level


For awhile now, we’ve been championing the importance of a dual-language strategy for targeting U.S. Hispanics. However, there is a third “language” that U.S. Hispanics connect with and marketers often overlook: Spanglish.

Spanglish is all about interchanging español and English within the same communication. Informal and conversational, it’s something today’s U.S. Hispanics know well; this is how many of them communicate.

So what happens when a brand tries to communicate with Hispanics in Spanglish? Before we go into a detailed example on how this might look in practice, let’s take a look at the overall numbers of language usage.

What the Data Says

The number of dual-language households is on the rise with a reported half of second generation Hispanics being bilingual. Though English is rising as a dominant language among younger generations, the ability to speak Spanish is still held in high regard. In their 2011 study of Hispanics’ views of identity, Pew Research Center notes, “Fully 95% of Hispanics believe it is very important (75%) or somewhat important (20%) for future generations of Hispanics in the U.S. to be able to speak Spanish.”

Spanglish has a heavy Millennial influence as well: A 2014 Ipsos survey on Hispanic Millennial language use states that though they speak primarily English, 82% of Millennials polled reported speaking at least some Spanish at home, while continuing to consume media in both languages.

Authenticity is Key

For marketers looking for authentic connections with this growing and influential audience, incorporating Spanglish in ads may be just the thing.

The key word there is authentic. Mixing in a nuanced hybrid language can be dangerous if not done with truth and originality. The context of your message, as well as the language it’s presented in, impacts the connection with Hispanics; what you communicate and how you communicate should be in sync.

Example of the Use of Spanglish

This combination of Spanglish and culturally relevant messaging is something we found success with when developing a targeted social media campaign for our client League of Conservation Voters (LCV).

A well-established environmental advocacy group looking to reach Latinos, LCV sought to identify messaging that resonated with U.S. Hispanics. To accomplish this goal, we layered environmental issues with culturally relevant messages and developed social communications and landing pages in Spanish, English, and Spanglish.

The results speak for themselves. The ads with Spanglish copy drove 54% more clicks and and produced 72% more engagement than the all-Spanish or all-English creative. While each ad was served to the same target audience, we did noticed a slight lift when targeting the Spanglish creative to a bilingual or Spanish dominant audience.

The Spanglish was subtle in some ads and overt in others, but never strayed from the campaign message in favor of language blending. We also framed the ads with culturally relevant themes that wrapped environmental issues with something immediately recognizable and familiar to U.S. Hispanics – like the paletero and abuela’s remedy seen below – which prompted the highest engagement levels.

Spanglish is another way to express a blended culture and when combined with compelling, culturally relevant messaging, it’s an effective way to connect with the U.S. Hispanic audience.

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