PRODU Opinión- Louis Maldonado de d expósito & Partners: Super Bowl Ads, A Touchdown but No Conversion

3 de febrero de 2020

Liz Unamo

Louis Maldonado1

Super Bowl advertising has come a long way. This year’s commercials were no longer limited to male targets with creative using guy humor to get a good laugh and be memorable. The categories represented were no longer dominated by the more traditional ones, like beer, soft drinks, snacks and automobiles, but included technology, beauty and, of course, politics. Female-targeted spots were in full force, with empowering, #FutureIsFemale-themed creative including Secret, Olay and Genesis; as were messages of sustainability from Saucony and SodaStream. The casting selection made major strides in terms of diversity, with spots featuring protagonists representing the Black, Asian, Hispanic, 50-plus and LGBTQ+ communities.
While Super Bowl advertising has made major strides at reflecting the new American reality, my overall assessment is that this year’s portfolio scored a touchdown without achieving the extra point conversion. That’s because no brand truly seized the opportunity to connect with the Latino consumer during a Super Bowl that was deeply infused with Latino culture and energy. The backdrop was Miami, a city that bridges the U.S. and Latin America. Demi Lovato, who is of Mexican and Portuguese heritage, opened the show by singing the National Anthem. The halftime show entertainment came courtesy of Puerto Rico and Colombia, headlined by none other than Jennifer López and Shakira, two Latina global superstars whose fandom knows no boundaries. Together with Bad Bunny and J. Balvin, two of today’s hottest and most trending artists, they gave us a sensational celebration of Latino culture that was fit for the global stage and indicative of our influence on American mainstream culture. I asked my fellow partner and CCO at our agency, Paco Olavarrieta, for his thoughts, who said, “The halftime show was an epic ad for our brand as a Latino community and a fantastic showcase of our vibrant culture with zest for life. It’s now forever part of this quintessential American sport, and it made me proud of being Latino in this country; not to mention it made me want to move my hips!”
Despite all of this, the advertising shown largely ignored America’s largest minority group. Sure, Hyundai tapped Dominican MLB player, Big Papi, with some good-natured ribbing over his accent, and P&G tapped Sofia Vergara and her one-of-a-kind personality for a spot that featured multiple brands. But overall, advertisers fell short of connecting with Latinos in a way that matched our contributions to and viewership of this iconic festivity. Where were the brands like Modelo Especial, that pay tribute to the immigrant, working-class families that help build this country?  Why didn’t we see Spanish-language ads with English subtitles, like we did for Buchanan’s Whiskey during the World Series? While true there was a commercial for Presidente Beer that featured Alex Rodriguez sharing his prideful story as a son of Dominican immigrants, that creative only aired in Miami and New York.
Granted, at approximately $6 million for a :30 national spot, we can’t expect all brands to make that investment. However, given the expanded and evolved level of storytelling in this year’s Super Bowl advertising, and since many brands that did invest have had Hispanic-targeted programs for decades, I would have hoped to see at least one commercial that features a Latino-centric story that transcends culture and speaks to the masses. Making such a statement would go a long way towards courting the Latino consumer by reflecting the brand’s understanding of today’s new America; one where the Latino community has no doubt helped build this country, both figuratively and literally, yet hasn’t felt much love given the socio-political environment. Instead, advertisers fumbled the ball and left Hispanic consumers singing J-Lo’s song, asking themselves, “¿y el anillo pa’ cuándo?” (where’s the ring?).
Perhaps the long held assumption that we Latinos only watch soccer prevailed, yet again, despite the fact that the Super Bowl consistently ranks as the #1 TV program viewed among Hispanics regardless of language, year over year. Perhaps we in the advertising industry need to do a better job at informing and even challenging our clients to get with the times so they do not miss out on these types of opportunities to make a profound statement on a global stage. Perhaps I should be content with the fact that the portfolio of advertising shown has evolved to be much more diverse and inclusive, with creative that addresses timely topics that really matter. While I do commend the progress made by the advertising community, we still have room for improvement. Next year, let’s convert every point at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, another Latino-oriented city where the industry can really score big by truly reflecting today’s New America.

Louis Maldonado 
Partner & Managing Director
d expósito & Partners