Storytelling: A Different Story For Each Culture

It’s different how culture can impact and how people react to a story, not just the content of a plot, but also the style of the narrative storytelling. That minor difference is significant in film and books, and it is so meaningful on how marketers approach their communication strategies when it comes to marketing to Hispanics.

There are many examples on how campaigns that are developed for a general market don’t workout the same way for the Hispanic segment. That’s why it’s so important to be tested in focus groups to listen the different comments of a campaign. 

“I don’t want to connect with someone from my business or social circle (which for many Hispanics are the same circle), ask for a question, get an answer, and that’s it. I would ask them first how they are doing; we would probably talk about sports or something we watched on TV, about our kids and family and only then, will I bring up the business issue at point. That’s how we do things; we are Hispanics!”

Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” 

For the Hispanic community, translation becomes the primary Hispanic marketing strategy. Although millennials view multiculturalism in a different way than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, they recognize the importance of speaking to multicultural audiences in an authentic way.

Another example are movie titles translation, usually when an English-language movie is released in a Spanish-speaking country, the original title is kept (¨Dirty Dancing¨), translated literally (¨The Ten Commandments¨), or translated to something very similar (¨Searching for the Lost Ark¨). Sometimes, though, the Spanish titles are WAY off, to the point of making you laugh out loud. The titles vary from country to country.

Storytelling in different cultures

Storytelling is at the core of culture. It is how histories are passed down, how customs are shared and how traditions become endemic to a group. Shared culture is rooted in a shared tradition of communicating. But it’s not just what stories they choose to tell that transmit culture, it’s how they choose to tell them. Do they get to the point? Do they pass over details? How important is context vs. outcomes?

The Latin American stands for a metaphor that aligns us neatly with the cultures inverted pyramid communication style. That is, presenting all the context and relevant facts before ultimately getting to the point. This style is opposite from most Anglo cultures that deem ‘time is money’ and, as such, demand getting to the point first.

Which brings us, in typically Latin American fashion after a bit of meandering, to the point. It is crucial that marketers understand the communication methods of the segments they speak to and hire professionals who can talk not just a group’s language but also their style.

After all, the biggest marketing challenge nowadays is not about reaching people, but rather how to connect with them and for us Latinos, the bridge to grab our attention is not via our brains, but instead via our hearts. As Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Isaac Mizrahi

As multicultural marketers and communicators, a large part of the work that we do for brands here at Vaquero Advertising is helping them tell their stories to multicultural audiences. It’s so important to know how the cultural nuances for various ethnic segments play out, especially when applying a marketing strategy. It can give the brand story it’s resonance in the minds of its key audiences.

Choose Vaquero to develop the perfect campaign for your audience.


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