I have been in love with brands since I could remember. I have always been particularly fond of brands that were a true representation of Americana-what the Gringo kids would wear, drink, eat, buy.
As a matter of fact, a brand set this whole crazy fun career of mine in motion. During the 1989 Grammy Awards telecast, Pepsi featured the Puerto Rican singer Chayanne in the first advertising spot in Spanish language to be broadcast on national television without dubbing or subtitles. I was watching and the first thought I had was-Wow! I can’t believe that though Coke taught the world to sing Pepsi did it in Spanish on NBC! I knew right then and there that I wanted to dive into the mind of consumers and get them to buy something in the language of their preference. That, my friends, is multicultural marketing in a nutshell and, though the term had not been coined, I wanted to bring Gringo brands alive in Spanish!
I had a notebook of brand translations:
Burger King- Have It Your Way; Tenlo de tu manera (es-cuse-mi?!)
Coke- Is It/Es “it” (because It does not translate O-kaay!)
KFC-Finger lickin’ good (until abuela kicks your ass)/ Para chuparte los dedos (as long as abuela is not around to kick your ass)
Charmin- Don’t squeeze the Charmin/No aprietes le papel de inodoro (gross)
But I digress…All of this really leads to my fascination with Hallmark cards. One of my lifelong sister friends will tell you that after every silly fight-and some included hair pulling-that we had as little kids, after every teenage squabble over stupid stuff like why I choose not to eat veal, and every adult real live drama, I have sent her a Hallmark card. Hallmark-when you care enough to send the very best. Hallmark-a beautifully written English language sentiment that helped translate “dejen de comer mierda y haganse amiguitas otra vez” in a more eloquent and appropriate manner. Hallmark, in their non-committal, way less passionate, flowery and unaccented language was always the solution to the problem.
Every day in the news and politics you read about the threats of immigration. It is terribly difficult for me to understand the idea that immigrants could be a threat- our parents will remind us of the days not so long ago when there were signs on buildings in Miami that said No Dogs; No Cubans. But there’s one belief in particular that really blows my cabeza. “They will take our language and our culture away from us. This is America. Speak our language; eat our burgers!”
When you look at Miami-our 305-our home-our Cuba- you see the prefect blend of Yours & Mine making Ours. There’s Cuban coffee for $50 at the café window and three doors down there’s a Starbucks charging $3 something for a Frappuccino. And the same people drinking both! You see a sign for Arepas at the corner and the iHop right behind it. We wear guayaberas and Keds. We drink Budweiser, Iron Beer, Coca Cola and Jupina. We have our pastelitos after our pilates classes. We are an example of the growth, prosperity, independence and codependence of cultures in the most beautiful form of all.
And so I wonder…why are we not seen as an example of what happens When You Care Enough To Send The Very Best? When you open the doors to educators and physicians, teachers and administrators. When you educate their children and infuse as much pride and passion in them for a country they will never set foot on as they have for the country they were born in. When you create a new and richer cultural experience for all who have been fortunate enough to live it and those who yearn to experience it fireworks happen!
Our culture is going mainstream. Pitbull is on the radio. Yuca Fries on the menu in Northern Indiana (I shit you not!), Bustelo in markets across the Midwest. Modern Family and Sofia’s accent famous on national TV. That’s a great reason to celebrate this weekend and a great reason to open our arms, our hearts and our doors and “let the sun shine in” so that everyone can enjoy life “good to the last drop” while we “share a Coke and a smile” reading a card from our bestie who 43 years later still “cares enough to send the very best”.
Feliz Dia De La Independencia-Happy Fourth of July