Alienating customers

Dear Editor:In the 90's I participated in an advertising focus group study for a major Southern California advertiser. The goal of the study was to determine the efficiency of advertising in Spanish. Spanish language radio and TV were both deemed efficient since the audience of those two media understood Spanish. Bilingual direct mail (offers in both English and Spanish) also scored well because it did not exclude or alienate either group. If English was your only language, you read the message you understood and vice versa. Outdoor advertising (billboards), on the other hand, did not fare well for two reasons. The nature of outdoor is short, terse messages and most target audiences in Southern California are bilingual to the extent they get the gist of most messages. Secondly and perhaps most importantly, a Spanish language message tended to alienate some non-Spanish speaking audiences, while English language messages did not have the same effect on non-English speaking audiences. Focus group studies are expensive, but it's surprising that some pretty big companies waste their advertising dollars on a media which alienates a significant minority of the population and fails to efficiently deliver their message to the Latino market. I suspect there's a sense of "political correctness" involved here. Political correctness has no place in business if it fails to serve the bottom line. But then maybe it's just me...Go figure. -- Tom Burney, Downey

********** Published: November 25, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 32