You may have caught a new, bilingual Wells Fargo commercial featuring a young Latina girl getting her first paycheck. Playing in the background is “Algo” by Chilean singer/songwriter Deborah Del Corral, an artist little-known in the United States. Also airing now is a Target “Summer Prep” ad scored to “Ula Ula” by Argentine funk group Illya Kuryaki & the Valderramas. Those synchs — along with last month’s launch of a new venture focusing on Latin music licensing called El Search Party — suggest there’s a surge of Latin music placements in mainstream advertising paralleling the increasing importance of Latin demographics in marketing of all things, from politics to department-store staples.
But it ain’t so.
Latin publishing companies and labels report steady growing revenue from their synch business-much of it coming from TV and Latin-American campaigns. But placement of Spanish-language music in general-market campaigns remains rare. And even placement in Spanish-language U.S. campaigns lags behind what one sees in the mainstream.
“It will be up to the advertising and brand industries to react to the fact that Latins are a minority today but will be a majority in 18-20 years,” says Gustavo Melendez, regional managing director for Latin America at Warner/Chappell. “Beyond that, our job is to promote our music.”
One issue is that promotion tends to be segmented. Latin labels and publishers tend to have contact with Latin agencies and brands, not with the mainstream. Although it’s becoming increasingly common to see the same campaign featuring mainstream artists for the general market and Latin acts for the Latin market.
In fact, that’s how the Wells Fargo spot featuring Del Corral began. The track was originally requested for the Spanish-language version of the ad, but during the filming of the commercial, the creative team was impressed enough with the young Latin actress that they asked if she spoke English. Like most young Latinos in the States, she did. And voila, an English-language (with a smattering of Spanish) version of the ad was created, using the same Spanish-language song.
There’s a model here that should be noted by brands, publishers and labels. The use of Latin tracks by non-superstars is far more common in many Latin countries than it is stateside. Big brands generally seek expensive synchs by big-name, crossover artists like Shakira and Pitbull. And Hispanic agencies in the United States still rely on voice-overs to drive messages home in their commercials, preferring jingles over more expensive synchs.
But more and more, “brands are making an effort to license music,” says Fernando Rojo, senior creative director for new business at Universal Music Publishing Latin America. “They’re analyzing their targets and they realize music is listened to more than ever before through multiple platforms.”
There’s still a disconnect between music companies and Latin agencies, Melendez says. But at least there are encouraging signs, including the Del Corral and Kuryaki uses, which are particularly auspicious because neither of those two albums had been released stateside prior to these campaigns.
“We just have to be prepared,” Melendez says, “so when the trend explodes, we’re right there.”