LatinWorks on Marketing to a Mind-set

LatinWorks relates to Latinos by deftly acknowledging their heritage while honoring the complexity of Hispanic-American culture

Carlos Muñoz, Vice President, Group Account Director, LatinWorks
Carlos Muñoz, Vice President, Group Account Director, LatinWorks

Since LatinWorks opened its doors in 1998, the Austin-based advertising agency has built a client roster of Fortune 500 companies including PepsiCo, Target, Mars, and Anheuser-Busch. Its secret? A strong understanding of the dynamics within the Hispanic market and unparalleled creative.

Carlos Muñoz has been central to winning big accounts including Ford and Chrysler in places such as Mexico, Colombia, and Europe. A key part of his role within the company focuses on cultural branding. “Multicultural is a big word that we sort of throw around lightly,” says Muñoz, “but the United States is undoubtedly a multicultural society.” Which means that despite today’s ability to communicate freely and despite the sheer amount of information people can access, subcultures often remain distinct within the overall culture. One of the challenges marketers often have lies in determining how to insert the trends and views of those subcultures into mainstream American culture. Take the Hispanic consumer, for example. It’s not like Latinos in the United States are living like Latin Americans, says Muñoz. “They live like Americans with Latino heritage.”

Part of what has worked for Muñoz and his LatinWorks team is its outside-the-box thinking. Rather than sticking to an all-encompassing formula, Muñoz says the company prefers to work case-by-case to find its target market insight and utilize the team’s own instincts.

“We tend to market to a mind-set and not to an origin,” Muñoz says. “And that mind-set for the Hispanic-American is global in perspective and multidimensional.” Hispanic-Americans have roots abroad, but they’re also established in the United States, Muñoz explains. That complexity is something LatinWorks excels at reflecting in its work.

A prime example of this method is LatinWorks’ launch of a Mexican beer in the United States. Muñoz wanted to avoid any stereotypical characteristics and challenged his team to find a way to impact digital and retail in a positive manner. The campaign incorporated a fleet of about 50 green-and-white Volkswagen Beetles driving around the United States. They looked just like the VW Beetle taxis that were prevalent in Mexico many years ago. Just as the beer was marketed as something of a Mexican delicacy in the states, the cars were an eye-catching and recognizable way to reinforce the idea of “bringing the best of Mexico to the United States.”

LatinWorks is increasingly incorporating unique and entertaining elements such as the taxi stunt to its brand campaigns. “Being able to take cultural cues from something that is very close to our core consumer is interesting to me, and I thought that was kind of exciting,” says Muñoz.

As the Hispanic population continues to grow faster than any other in the country, working with an ad agency like LatinWorks gives Muñoz an affirming sense that the Hispanic market is as desirable as ever. Brands all over the United States are looking for ways to grow as competition abounds. Many companies are turning to the Hispanic market to grow their consumer base and see LatinWorks as the firm to help them accomplish that goal.

“Marketing to Hispanics is definitely low-hanging fruit in the sense that you’ve got certain areas of the country where the economy is being driven by the growth of the Hispanic population and the consumption habits of Hispanics,” Muñoz says. “There’s a real influence in the economy that drives market behavior in places like Texas, California, New York, and Illinois. Marketers who are not recognizing that are missing a big opportunity because if other markets decline, there are sectors where the only area of growth is Hispanic.”