Coffee-Mate’s Push to Promote ‘Steamy, New Latin Flavors’ Gets It All Wrong

You would think that by 2014 —after years of seeing fish stick fails or Latino-inspired bleaches— companies and the agencies they hire would finally get a clue about how best to thrive in a U.S. market that is becoming more diverse. You would think that these companies and their agencies would go beyond the stale stereotypes to “Latinize” their products.

Guess not, if you take into account what the folks at Coffee-Mate (yes, Coffee-Mate) are promoting these days. From the site’s Facebook page:

“Meet our steamy, new Latin flavors. Which will you share your morning cup with?”

CoffeeMate

Huh?

We can only imagine the creative pitch for this one:

Ad Guy 1: Hey, the Nestlé guys want to bring two of their most popular products from Mexico and Latin America to the States. We need a hook. You know, for the Latinos. They’re hot! They’re so many of them! $$$$!

Ad Guy 2: And sexy! ¡Muy caliente! Like Sofía Vergara!

Ad Guy 1: I know, what if your non-dairy creamer became a Latin lover? You know, spicy, hot, grrrr… wink, wink, nudge, nudge

Ad Guy 2: ¡Muy bueno! Like Sofía Vergara!

Ad Guy 1: And we can use words like delicioso sprinkled with our English copy?

Ad Guy 2: ¡Sí, señor! Those Latinos will love it.

Here’s the problem with all this: brands like La Lechera and Abuelita are very well-known (some would say, iconic) in Mexico and other parts of South America. Their brands connote comfort, family, being at home. Yet the moment they enter the States as a non-dairy creamer, these brands fall into the old and tired “Latin lover” motif? Because you know…

Why did the agency promoting this campaign “have to go there?” And why did Nestlé approve it? Hotness seems to be the way the U.S. market wants to see Latinos, even when it comes to non-dairy creamers.

Now non-dairy creamers have become examples of sexualized Latino stereotypes. Then you wonder why we have major issues when it comes to media representation of Latinos in this country. And if you think this is not a problem, you will never understand what the original problem is. Enough with the ad images of “hot Latinos.” It is so 1935. This is 2014. A bit more respect, Coffee-Mate. (Yeah, we cannot believe we just addressed Coffee-Mate.)

Looks like the Facebook campaign is still going on, so that agency running Coffee-Mate’s “steamy, new Latin flavors” campaign are not doing anyone any favors.

Because Latinos are hot!

Because Latinos and their Abuelas are spicy!

Hit it, Gollum.

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