The Hamburguesa Wars

Jul 28, 2004

By David Morse

There is nothing more American than a good burger. And two burger joint giants – Burger King and Carl’s Jr. – agree that Hispanic Americans share a penchant for the all-American food.

Both will be developing targeted campaigns for 18-to-34 year old Hispanics. Both agree that this consumer is bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English fluently. What they don’t agree on is which language to use in their ads.

Carl’s Jr.’s Hispanic agency, GrupoGómez, plans to use Spanish — with a twist. They plan to spice it up with Spanglish, since both languages are often used interchangeably by Hispanics in the United States.

“We want to make the Carl’s Jr. image more in tune with Latino youth,” said agency president Alex Gómez.

Burger King’s Hispanic agency, San Antonio-based Bromley Communications, is betting on English language advertising for this younger consumer.

“For a long time, companies have targeted Latinos in Spanish, though new generations look for their own identity,” said Bromley Account Director Jorge Flores. “They prefer commercials in English.”

Moderator’s Comment: Which approach, Carl’s Jr.’s or Burger King’s, makes the most sense in today’s marketplace for reaching 18-to-34 year old Hispanics?
With more and more Hispanics speaking English and more non-Hispanics exposed to Spanish, what might advertising look like in another 10 years?  

For Hispanics younger than twenty, English definitely makes more sense; about 85% were born in the United States. The 18-to-34 age group is a little dicier;
only about 43% were born here, but many more have lived here for a significant portion of their lives. One thing we do know for sure: Hispanics that are born in the United States
tend to prefer English although, if they are second generation, they usually speak Spanish as well.

Here’s a third approach that might make the most sense, given the mainstreaming of Hispanic culture. McDonald’s is running its Spanish language commercial
on NBC, CBS and ABC. They’ve translated the one Spanish line into English. The spot, “She’s Mine,” features three young men eating at McDonald’s and admiring a beautiful woman
with a backpack. Then they find out the backpack is really a baby carrier with her young son. The boy flashes them a look that says, “she’s mine.”

Said Andrés Muñoz of McDonald’s Hispanic agency Rivero Messianu DDB, “The Latin chispa is something that can be understood regardless of nationality.”

David Morse – Moderator

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