Latinos in U.S. Advertising


by Camila Mendoza Dukón, Producer/Project Manager at Illuminator

The Latino population in the US increased by 23% between 2010 and 2020; this growth is also represented in its purchasing power. According to a Pew Research Center report, we now represent approximately 18.7% of the population in the United States and a $1.5 trillion market opportunity.

And since there are 62.5 million of us (and rising), it’s important to remember we’re all different. People of Latin American origin don’t have as many common denominators as advertisers think. Not all of us like salsa dancing or watching “fútbol”; we’re not all Catholic, nor do we have the same political views. If that sounds similar to other audience groups you’ve been marketing to, that’s because it is. And as such, campaigns need to look past the “Latino” tag and talk directly to our interests.

As a Latino who’s also a marketer, I constantly look for ways to improve how the brands I work with talk to the target audience I represent. As a California-based Colombian, it has always interested me how different brands market to Latin American audiences in the US. This journey helped me rediscover myself both as the recipient and source of these messages.

Here are some notes I’ve taken throughout my career in the US: 

Find the similarities among the differences

As immigrants or children of immigrants, we have common experiences that automatically connect us. Most of us share a homeland and/or family nostalgia that can be nurtured with music, food, and stories. Not all of us celebrate Día de los Muertos, but we all long for our abuelas. Find the right way to incorporate your brand storytelling into the things that move your specific niche.

Real representation matters

Inserting a “Latino” in your ad won’t cut it; it frequently feels like trying too hard. Let us know how your brand fits into our lives. If you are in F&B, show how your product can improve our dishes; if you are a beauty brand, include various skin tones and hair types in your tutorials. Look at what Latino influencers are doing, talk to them, include them and empower their voice with your message

Use clever references

The times when it was ok to represent us as Bandidos and Señoritas are over. Cringy and outdated references will only make us run away from your brand. Embrace different current Latino representations; think Oscar Isaac, Ana de Armas, or Jenna Ortega, just to name a few in the mainstream. “Latinidad” is not always bombastic; it can also be intellectual and subtle.

Language, por favor!

Not all Latinos live a Spanish-dominant life. Some of us communicate mostly in English and a lot in Spanglish. Adjusting this in your messaging will probably make it more effective; take the pulse and don’t force it. Finding the right proportion of slang and proper language can be tricky, but the results will be worth it. Authenticity is key.

Be consistent

Hispanic Heritage Month campaigns are just a tiny part of what brands need to do to reach and empower this demographic. Let us know we’re more than the flavor of the month between mid-September and mid-October; show a real interest and create resources that manifest that interest. Build a version of your website in Spanish, and hire more bilingual voices throughout your organization. More showing and less telling is always appreciated.

Like any other audience, we want to be heard. Don’t turn our flavor and attitude into a cartoonish representation, and always—always—do your research and listen to your audience. Invest in getting the right tools and team; your work will be appreciated and rewarded.

If you’re trying to figure out how to incorporate these tips into your marketing, throw us a line. The Illuminator team is here to help.


Illuminator is a digital-first advertising agency designed to show brands the way forward in an ever-shifting media landscape. We believe every brand has a compelling story to tell. We’ll help you tell yours.

We’re the agency you’d create if you were creating an agency today.

Illuminator Illuminates: Generation Z


Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) now makes up 25% of the population. As marketers, it’s important to understand what makes them tick. This is no easy task. The generation hasn’t fully crystallized as consumers; the youngest members of Gen Z are just entering adolescence, while the oldest recently settled into the workforce. (Be mindful their office might be a studio apartment with fancy HD cameras and ring lights.)

The good news is we have insight into how to capture their attention and loyalty. First, some context: Unlike previous generations, Gen Zers were born into a world saturated with technology—they never knew life without the internet or smart phones. Engaging them with compelling digital experiences is key. They’re tech savvy, but wise enough to refrain from sharing too much information online. (For example, the idea of posting a hundred photos on Facebook from a night out makes them cringe.) They don’t use social media to broadcast their entire lives, but rather to connect more deeply with their circle.

Since they’ve always had the Internet at their fingertips, convenience in any experience is table stakes. But convenience isn’t the only thing they care about; they’re savvy shoppers, too. They often compare different products from different retailers so that they can get the best prices or discounts available. Gen Z also tends to look for reviews or feedback from other customers when researching online, so it’s important for companies to ensure their customer service experiences are positive ones.

Here are some high-level things to keep in mind if you want to resonate with Gen Z:

Make it Useful
Gen Z-ers seek out new technologies and applications that will make their lives easier and more efficient. Don’t just make something catchy; make something with utility.

Make it Experiential
Gen Z is all about experiences over anything else (even more than Gen Y). They want to spend their money on experiences rather than material possessions, and they want those experiences to be social and useful. 

Make it Visual
When it comes to content preferences, Gen Z gravitates towards visual content over text-based content. That means videos, GIFs, images, infographics—anything that stands out visually will grab their attention more effectively than plain text alone ever could. 

And Most Importantly: Make it Meaningful
Gen Z is passionate about making a difference in the world, and are more likely than older generations to support causes related to climate change, inequality, or diversity. They expect brands to have a position on social issues, and they use that info to make their choices.

As Gen Z continues to define itself, brands should be ready to look inward to ensure they resonate with this emerging generation. More than any other generation, Gen Z wants to interact with brands that are aligned with their worldview. Your brand needs to know what it stands for. Thing is, this has always been true. But it’s even more important today. Bring what’s good about your brand to the forefront, and Gen Z will gravitate towards you.

And if you need help reaching this next generation, or even defining what you’re all about, Illuminator is here to help.  

Illuminator is a digital-first advertising agency designed to show brands the way forward in an ever-shifting media landscape. We believe every brand has a compelling story to tell. We’ll help you tell yours.

We’re the agency you’d create if you were creating an agency today.