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Happy Hispanic Stereotype Month

Submitted by on September 22, 2010 – 8:55 am35 Comments

I may start walking around with fruit on my head.
I may start wearing tacones — and only tacones — to the grocery.
I may start calling my husband Papito, but only if he promises to call me Mamita.
Why? Because I am a Latina!
Or don’t you watch TV commercials?

What is it with Spanish talking dogs in commercials aimed at Latinos? Oh, and all the knife-slicing imagery?

Watch this:

and this, beautiful as it is:

Before you answer, read this and tell me what you think:

The racialized stereotype of the Frito Bandito and the sexualized stereotype of Chiquita Banana have been displaced by a different yet equally problematic set of representations. Advertising, as a kind of linguistic and visual code, conveys both implicit and explicit messages about social norms and values and the social status of ethnic, racial, and gender groups. In this code, the representations of Latinas and Latinos in advertisements face three main difficulties:

  1. Latinas and Latinos remain relatively invisible in advertising representation;
  2. Latinas and Latinos in advertisements remain racially and sexually stereotyped;
  3. pan-ethnic Latina and Latino representations contribute to homogenization of a diverse group.Read more: Advertising and Marketing – Developing the Latino Market, Contemporary Latino Marketing and Advertising, Barriers to Latino Advertising and Marketing

And of course, our African-American brothers and sisters are not to be left out of this conversation. Throw in a little hip hop and you’ve got a campaign, si?

For the record, I don’t like Chihuahuas.

Share, por favor!


  • Thank you thank you thank you for posting Carrie! I am glad to continue and formalize the private conversations some of us have been having and bring it here. :) I’ll post some of my comments from before on here.

    Just who are they marketing paper towels to? I don’t know of any mom who would be persuaded to buy paper towels because 2 chicas are dancing to a guacamole song with a dog. Nor are they going to do so because Rev Run is in a commercial with a bad “rap” song.


    Why do marketers/advertisers feel the need to go through all that to get Latinos to buy paper towels? Do we really need a catchy song about guacamole? Oh and a dance to go with it? Does there have to be a luchador in it?

    And if you’re marketing it to “Latina moms” which is how this particular video was pitched recently, does this video really appeal to Latina moms? Really?

    Why oh why can’t they just have some commercial about how the paper towel cleans great and that’s it? Do we use paper towels different than the rest of the nation?

    Marketing to the African-American/Black community is just as bad, or worse, as marketing to Latinos. My husband and I can’t STAND some of the commercials out there that are clearly made “for him”. Stick some urban-ish sounding song and some hip-looking kids dancing around and look! you’ve got yourself people drooling all over your product.

    Sorry for the long rant, but my family and kids have to deal with it on both sides – Latino and black. I get tired of it….
    Melanie (ModernMami)´s last [fabulousness] ..7 Tips for Finding ‘Me’ Time

  • maya escobar says:

    Love it!

    AM (Andria Morales) my wonderful collaborator on Are You My Other? did an awesome response piece to “yo quiero tacobell,” LOL here is what a REAL latina thinks: http://www.areyoumyother.com/?p=223

    xo Maya
    maya escobar´s last [fabulousness] ..Taking it to Tumblr

  • Tracy says:

    I’m really curious about what affect this discussion might have on how advertisers think in the future.

    As I said in private, while I see the (annoying and over-used) stereotypes you’re talking about, I’m not going to pretend I found the commercial terribly offensive in general. At first I just saw a company trying to be fun and do the whole “viral video” thing – but if it’s struck a nerve with people, obviously they are not doing something right and it would be to their benefit to enter the discussion with the Latina community to find out how to make their commercials more effective, (and less offensive.) … It’s time for companies to do something new and stop using the same over-played caricatures that the general population associate with “Latinos” and “Latinas”.

    Besides the stereo-types, I do wonder, as Melanie said, who are they targeting with this commercial? I’m sure statistically that it is women who buy paper towels for the household, and what makes them think women want to always be looking at younger, prettier women?

    Beer commercials aimed at men = young, pretty women … I don’t necessarily like that, but I “get” it.

    But commercials targeted at women shouldn’t = young, pretty women, too. It makes no sense. I guess they assume we think, “If I use that product, I’ll look like that woman.” … Well, I’m personally not that daft, and all the women I know are far more intelligent than that as well.

    Seeing “perfect” women in the media in general, (Spanish language, English language, magazines, TV, etc.) gets really tiresome and is having a terrible effect on women’s self-esteem which is obvious in the prevalence of eating disorders we see today.
    Tracy´s last [fabulousness] ..Escabeche

  • Liz says:

    I agree with Melanie.

    First- The video didn’t even USE the damn paper towels AT ALL, doesn’t even mention it. Except in the last text part.

    Second- Really… if this isn’t “stereotyping” in the WORST way, hell… I don’t know what is. What people can’t do pinche guacamole without making a damn mess????????

    Third: Who the maracas is buying flippen paper towels? Little punky assed kids who can’t stop staring at the chi chis that are bouncing around? Men who like “Hooker” boots?


    The typical MOM who treks to the freaking mercado, either after work, or have toddlers running a muck at the market with her..


    This is…..


    Liz´s last [fabulousness] ..Yummy treats for kids

  • Oh. Snap.

    That first commercial is so damn offensive I’m STILL sitting here with my mouth agape, wondering just what in the hell they were selling. What was with the bondage guy dancing between the two women? And what in the world does this have to do with paper towels? Like, really?

    The second commercial was pretty, but I was a little disturbed to see a stereotypical cartoon character slicing through paradise like she’s Freddie Krueger on pretty crack. I mean, come on.

    I just don’t understand WHY in the hell in 2010 we still have to school the ad world on the differences between stereotypes and getting the doggone ads right—doing what it takes to draw in the audience without insulting the crap out of them.

    Both of these commercials are no bueno.
    Denene@MyBrownBaby´s last [fabulousness] ..Boris Kodjoe And MyBrownBaby- Sitting In a Tree

  • Nada about this commercial is right, especially if you are trying to target Latina moms in any social spectrum.
    Cheaply produced reggaeton? A dancing dog? Loud girls showing their chones in lewd dancing moves? Disgusting. And, I’m not easily disgusted or offended because I know there’s always a market for something.

    Plus, how effective is it if no one can remember the brand that’s being sold? Maybe next time I go to buy my paper towel I’ll put on tons of make up, high heels, a polyester uber miniskirt and storm down the aisle with my cart while fist pumping to a gawd-awful reggaeton tune!

    Please, ad people…hire us…we’ll be your focus group..we’re your consumer..we’re real and we like to keep it real.
    Ana Lilian Flores´s last [fabulousness] ..Ask an Expert- My bilingual daughter gets bored in her Spanish class at school- what to do

  • Marcela says:

    Why do they think that we will fall for these stupid songs? Are they trying to do a “macarena” type thing.

    Do they think we hear a catchy beat and will immediately start dancing and singing (and buying paper towels)???

    A knife???

    It seems all we can do is dance and cook? No?

    Porfavor??? Gente???

    For the record…I don’t like chihuahuas either. I’m a German Shepherd kind a girl.
    Marcela´s last [fabulousness] ..the new nike app for iPhone

  • Marcela says:

    I do have to mention that I do like the visuals on the Tostitos. Beautiful colors ( :
    Marcela´s last [fabulousness] ..the new nike app for iPhone

  • nika says:

    So that Bounty ad – freakish

    All I can say is the following:

    The young ladies look like they could be any number of nationalities from arabic to asian indian to latina – they seem oddly generic.

    Their dancing makes me fear for their bodies because they could really do some damage to their spines and their muscles with those horrific jerky unbecoming movements. I am aching just from watching.

    Worst of all:

    The ad is like a profoundly unfortunate mixture of Bollywood, Sabado Gigante, and the Taco Bell chihuahua ad from hell.

    Is this a song that is popular somewhere? I have never heard of it. Maybe its something they put together at Hooters for their restaurants down in Tijuana?

    I am a mom and in the target demographic.

    I can promise you that this ad doesnt entice me to buy Bounty – in no way do I identify with the music or the people in the ad – not my peeps – they seem more alien than anything.

    (I am Colombian American, lived in the US almost all my life and I never am out of touch with the fact that I am a latina – I know something about my peeps).

    And one last thing – I think most latina moms are like me – I CARE about how my girls get socialized and this ad sends ALL the wrong messages to me and my girls.
    nika´s last [fabulousness] ..A quick answer to breakfast

    • Carrie says:

      Nika, hilarious: “The ad is like a profoundly unfortunate mixture of Bollywood, Sabado Gigante, and the Taco Bell chihuahua ad from hell.”

      • Giran says:

        The words “Latina/o”, “Hispanic” are SEPARATIST. They imply not “AMERICAN”. This hence implies unfamiliarity. These are easy/cheap symbols availabe to marketers to identify “Latina/o”, “Hispanics”. People don’t do research they wan’t things fast and easy. Research is expensive and interferes with profit. Its bad enough they have to advertise to you in Spanish. They don’t advertise to anyone else in their native language.
        Back to ignorance, what does anyone know about the Taiwanese? You gotta tell people who you are so they KNOW. I am a white Spaniard-Mexican or an Indian Aztec-Mexican, African-Cuban,Chinese-Cuban, white Spaniard-Cuban, Inca Indian-Peruvian, white Spaniard-Peruvian, white Portuguese-Brazilian, African-Brazilian. Or I am a mix of races-black, Indian, white, Arabic, Asian. You have to drive the message home.

  • Catalina says:

    I was waiting to see how the Bounty towels were going to connect to the stupidity of this commercial. Do men actually shop for paper towels? I seriously don’t know of any woman who would be swayed to buy this product after watching THAT. The words ‘guacamole’ split the way it was made me think of the word guacala/gross. Which oddly enough described the commercial quite fittingly.

    The second commercial, while very pretty, seemed a bit absurd.

    I hope advertisers will read this post, as well as the comments, to see how wrong they are getting it. That is, if they are trying to target Latinas.
    Catalina´s last [fabulousness] ..Solid Rock

  • Monica says:

    This is such a disappointment and just another example of how media and marketing continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes. Images like these especially trouble me because I have a young daughter and I do not want her growing up thinking that this is how she should behave and dress.

    As a mother and the main shopper in my family, I can honestly say that after seeing this, I will certainly think twice next time I go to buy paper towels (which I do on a regular basis). And, sadly, Bounty has just dropped to the bottom of my list. And I will be thinking heavily about other Procter & Gamble products.

    Shame, shame on you, Procter & Gamble.

    A smart company produces products that do not insult or belittle potential customers. You guys need to fire your PR company and look for someone who is a little more aware of your target customers (in this instance, MOTHERS) and market to them appropriately.
    Monica´s last [fabulousness] ..My Havana- Memories of a Cuban Boyhood

  • Evenshine says:

    It seems that there’s this tenacious balance between acknowledging a culture’s characteristics, and stereotyping them into a fantastical feast of culturally-aimed images. On one hand, it’s important to understand (I’m talkin’ to you, advertisers!) that *sometimes* the reasons a consumer might be attracted to a particular brand might have something to do with culturally-appropriate advertising, but when you go too far- like either one of these ads- into caricaturizing, you risk reactions like you’ve had above. How to find the balance? Keep working on it, ad agencies…
    I do get the same reaction when I see the Spanish-language ads that talk all about how “tu cuidas de tu familia” etc- while showing Latina housewives (since that is OBVIOUSLY how all Latinas live) in immaculate kitchens.
    *Doing the guacamole under my desk*.
    Evenshine´s last [fabulousness] ..Dear Monsieur Chimpunk

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maura Wall Hernandez, Melanie, Gina Ruiz, Jen Bhagia-Lewis, Tiki Tiki Blog and others. Tiki Tiki Blog said: Las Latinas are "muy caliente'' in the comments about the Latin Bounty ad. http://ow.ly/2InYk [...]

  • Erica says:

    I love that you posted this. I’m not Latina.. I’m about as Caucasian as it gets, and unfortunately I completely missed this in these commercials! (Well, let me start by saying I’d never seen the Bounty one before – it was super lame.) But it didn’t even occur to me how the Tostito’s commercial was so racially stereotypical. It makes me think back to the early 20th century, when African-Americans were portrayed as “mammies” or with watermelons in their hands.. It’s so sad that over 100 years later we’re STILL doing the same thing!

    I feel awful for being so oblivious to it! Seriously! It’s really lame!
    Erica´s last [fabulousness] ..2-year-old sitting in the bathroom five minutes alone

  • Silvia says:

    Thanks for posting this Carrie, I just had a blast reading all the comments.

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one feeling this way, it is so sad to see how stereotypes keep haunting us.

    Yes, I’m latina, I love dancing and I love guacamole, (no! I don’t like luchadores) but… that doesn’t mean I want to see all that in a commercial. This video doesn’t appeal to me one bit, actually, I found it offensive.
    Silvia´s last [fabulousness] ..Dominika Paleta y Campanita – Dominika Paleta and Tinker Bell

  • Guillermo Gorrion says:

    Personally, I thought the Bounty Commercial was awesome. Hot chicks have successfully been used to market products since the beginning of advertizing, and it’s a strategy that does not fail. As far as the luchador is concerned, I just thought he was funny, because bounty is like tough or something. (Mire el luchador es blanco, Como las papel. Vea?) Anyway, does the bounty commercial stereotype? Yes.

    The stereotype of weiner dogs in this commersial is misleading to the public, and dangerous to consumers. People who view this commersial may assume that all weiner dogs can sing and dance, when in fact, most weiner dogs can do neither.

    Aside from that, I think some women will be offended by this commersial, especially if they forget how to make the guacamole at all, and if the offended womens are also not hot. Women who are not hot are easily offended, and also they like to complain about things. As for me, I make my guacamole myself, and the next time I do it I will do it with bounty paper towels because the song is catchy, the girls in the commersial have nice smiles, and I like it.

    Guaca-Guaca! Mole-Mole!

  • [...] how to work with brands and PR agencies, how to turn pitches in your favor, and touched on the existing stereotypes in marketing to Latinas. As soon as I have my notes put together and the tip sheet that the 3 of us [...]

  • [...] to the culture and playing into stereotypes that are offensive. As evidenced by Tiki Tiki Blog’s, Happy Hispanic Stereotype Month, some very successful brands have had their share of offensive advertising to Latinos. With an [...]

  • Alberto says:

    Thanks for the post I have been saying the same since the first “hispanic heritage month” my heritage is Spanish. Latin Americans are of all races, adopting labels and stereotypes takes away our heritage our ancestry and our identity.
    Stay thirsty my friends.

  • [...] For example, there was a commercial for Verizon that showed a mother and daughter inside their store shopping for new cell phones. The mother and daughter went back and forth a bit asking questions of the sales representative and in one instance you hear the daughter address her mom as “mamá” instead of “mom” or another variation. It was subtle, but noticeable. I instantly knew that even though the commercial was universal and meant for anyone, they were speaking to Hispanics by simply using a Hispanic family and using the term mamá. There was no need to use flamenco music, under-dressed dancing women, or any other well-known stereotypes in marketing to Latinos. [...]

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