(Hispanic) Family Fun at Disney

When I lived in Florida, Disney commercials didn’t really catch my attention. I lived roughly 4 hours away from the cheerful talking mouse, so I took Disney trips for granted. I went to Disney four times in three and a half years.

Never too old for the Seuss Land merry-go-round.

But now that I live in Washington, who knows how long it will be until I can go to Disney World again (and odds are it would be Disneyland). So I’ve been taking more note of Disney commercials over here. And I’ve noticed that Disney has been pumping up the Hispanic marketing with commercials about the Rodriguez and Mayoral family visiting Disney.

Now, while the families in these commercials have last names in Spanish, there is nothing else inherently Hispanic about the commercials. They could have been any family of any ethnicity and the commercial would have made the same point. But a few days ago I saw a commercial on TV (that I unfortunately haven’t been able to find on YouTube yet) that used a cultural insight rather than a last name to target Hispanics.

The commercial showed three families having fun at Disney. One of the families is celebrating a girl’s birthday, and the voiceover said “Because there are only so many fifteenth birthdays.” To someone unfamiliar with Hispanic culture, there is nothing special about this. But to Hispanics, a girl’s quinceañera (or quinceaños as we say in Panama) is a milestone that is celebrated in a big way. In fact, in Panama it is traditional for 15-year-old girls to receive a trip to Disney World and a Caribbean cruise as their birthday present.

Using this insight in a commercial is what I call a “wink” after reading David Morse’s book on multicultural marketing. A wink is a subtle nudge at a culture in marketing, something that only people familiar with the culture will recognize. This way, the commercial can be understood by the general market, but it holds a special meaning to (in this case) Hispanics.

What do you think about subtle winks in commercials? Has a commercial ever “winked” at you?

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