Friday, October 30, 2009

Shakira's impacting her community...we can, too!

The following post is from Matthew Bernton, intern. Matthew is currently studying International Studies, Spanish and Latin American Studies at Seattle University and scheduled to graduate in December.

I would like to spotlight a well known artist today who is not only creating worldwide hits, but is making an impact on the world. That artist is Shakira. She won this year’s social work award at the MTV Latino awards, which took place in her home country of Colombia earlier this month.

Shakira has a passion for working with children who lack basic resources and manages the Barefoot Foundation, which offers underprivileged children free education. According to La Raza del Noroeste, her work currently reaches more than 5,000 children in Colombia.

I have always respected people who give back to their communities, and I find it inspiring that someone who has achieved superstardom can still be humble enough to remember where she came from and the issues that affect her community. Maybe it shouldn’t take a superstar to inspire someone to do good in the world, but it certainly helps bring attention to social causes when a star is backing them.

This award seems rather timely, as Shakira is on the front page of November’s Rolling Stone. I think the fact that she is on the cover this coming month, rather than being solely featured somewhere in the body of the magazine, says a great deal about her personal achievements. She graces the cover of a major media magazine because she is Shakira and the world knows that she is a very creative, unique woman in entertainment. She is not on the cover based on her ethnic background. Congratulations, Shakira!

I think it is important to remember that we can all learn something from artists who are able to mix their professional career with social work. I am not saying that we all need to open our own nonprofit organization to validate our impact on the world, but we should constantly be engaged about the issues going on in the world around us, as there may be a particular cause that we feel especially passionate about.

By engaging in service, we can learn more about members of the community, while simultaneously learning what our passion is.

Check out the Barefoot Foundation website for more information about Shakira’s organization.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

La Raza: Pastor alemán, por ejemplo

I just read the latest post from Deb Arnold on the importance of knowing your audience. The moral of her story is to ask yourself: Who do you think you're talking to?

So many businesses forget this really important step of identifying your audience prior to crafting communications to that audience. It can be disastrous, even in a low-key, skill-building, team-building situation like the one Deb describes.

But imagine if you're brand is making its first impression!

Take a read! And think: What dog breeds do you know in a second language?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Do Hispanics rate products higher because they're Hispanic?

This is a question that multicultural researchers deal with in our work: Are our research participants responding frankly, or are they being polite? Because based on their culture, they may just be responding in a way they think is "appropriate."

Hispanics in particular tend to not want to show disrespect to authority (which can include the focus group moderator). This means that, when you are seeking true reactions to your marketing communications, your product, your new policy--you might have to take this cultural nuance into account in your summary.

Something I do when I'm moderating Hispanic groups that has been very helpful in encouraging their truthful opinions is that I use humor and humility at the outset, before we even get started. I also make it abundantly clear that I am in no way attached to the product or communications we're discussing. This seems to break the ice in a way that encourages more honest responses throughout the session.

This topic was brought to mind thanks to this month's newsletter from Quirk's Marketing Research Review. I've pasted in the piece below, for your consideration:

A trend has emerged in multicultural research showing that Hispanics rate certain products higher than non-Hispanics simply because they are Hispanic. The phenomenon is known as cultural lift, and it can be taken into account to improve the accuracy of results when conducting preference testing.

According to Savitz Research Companies, Dallas, Hispanics gave 5.9 percent higher average ratings than non-Hispanics in the U.S. on a zero-to-100-point scale, even though high product ratings often didn't translate to a rise in sales and usage. It has been thought that cultural influences may make Hispanics more reluctant to provide negative or impolite feedback.

When evaluating soft drinks, for example, Hispanics rated Pepsi 80.8, while non-Hispanics rated it 74.8, making it appear that Hispanics like Pepsi more and would be a better target. Ratings for 7-Up were essentially the same, at 73 for Hispanics and 73.7 for non-Hispanics. When asked to rate Fanta, a drink which Hispanics are known to prefer, Hispanics gave a rating of 80, compared to a 57.6 rating by non-Hispanics. After the 5.9-point adjustment of the Hispanic ratings to remove the cultural bias, Hispanics and the general population actually feel about the same about Pepsi, non-Hispanics prefer 7-Up and Hispanics still definitely like Fanta more than non-Hispanics.

What do you think? What have your experiences been, and how have you handled differences in communication? Please feel free to share here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Surprise! NOW: Another Spanish-language Film Festival!

Yes, CineSeattle's production is just behind us and, again we have a local film festival with a focus on Spanish-language pieces--this time, from Spain. The below information regarding The Festival of New Spanish Cinema is direct from our friends at Spain Association of the Pacific Northwest:

Estimados Amigos de España
I wanted to let you know that we are collaborating with the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) presenting The Festival of New Spanish Cinema at SIFF Cinema October 15-21.

Now on its second run, the Festival of New Spanish Cinema continues its annual celebration of films, mainly premieres in the US.With films by such veterans as Juan Luis Iborra, Javier Fesser, and Gabriel Velázquez shown side-by-side with cutting-edge debut productions from the newest generation including Albert Arizza, Irene Cardona, David Planell, Santiago Zannou, and Miguelanxo Prado, there is much to relish in this year's festival. Presenting new and outrageous interpretations of classic genres including melodrama, thriller, and animation, this year's styles range from superb examples of Spain's offbeat thrillers like Ramirez, and the brutal, wrenching fairy tales Camino and The Sound of the Sea, to socially engaged cinema like A Fiancé for Yasmina or One-Armed Trick. You can view trailers from select films online by clicking here.

As an Amigo de España, you can enjoy tickets for all the movies shown during the Festival at a discount price - $8. In order to get the discount, you just need to mention that you are an “Amigo of the Spain Association of the Pacific Northwest” at the booth. It’s that easy!

Nos vemos en el cine!
Amigos de España

The Festival of New Spanish Cinema
Opening Night FiestaThursday, October 15, 9:30pm (immediately following the Opening Night Film, Desperate Women)The Alki Room at Seattle CenterJoin us for a special celebration in honor of SIFF Cinema's presentation of The Festival of New Spanish Cinema. Enjoy Spanish music while sipping complimentary Freixenet Spanish Cava and nosh on paella prepared and served onsite by Taberna del Alabardero. Special guest Irene Cardona, director of A Fiance for Yasmina, is scheduled to attend.

Desperate Women(Enloquecidas)Thursday, October 15, 7:30pmSaturday, October 17, 12:00 NoonThe eagerly anticipated new film from writer-director Juan Luis Iborra (Km. 0, Mouth to Mouth) follows three women trying to track down a missing lover. Blanca meets the man of her dreams, falls in love and loses him, all in one week. Then, by chance a few months later, she and her aunt Barbara (Almodóvar favorite Verónica Forqué) find a portrait of him in the house of a charming old couple. The man is revealed to be their son-who is further revealed to be long dead. Determined to learn more about the mysterious man, Blanca and Barbara begin an unpredictable and hilarious investigation. This often outrageous thriller gathers three generations of the best Spanish female actresses and some of the rarer-seen odder areas of Madrid.

A Fiancé for Yasmina(Un Novio Para Yasmina)Friday, October 16, 7:00pmSunday, October 18, 2:30pmLola loves weddings, even though her own marriage is on the rocks. She suspects that her husband Jorge has fallen in love with Yasmina (brilliantly played by Moroccan actress Sanaa Alaoui), who is in need of a visa to stay in Spain. Meanwhile, Yasmina is in a hurry to marry Javi, who proves a master of foot shuffling in his reluctance to set a date. While Alfredo is against the marriage, he'd be ready to get married for friendship.... or for money. A tenderhearted romantic story, Fiancé charts the tangled imbroglio that arises when emotional dilemmas, star-crossed relationships, and the unpredictable effects of love bring mayhem upon a group of friends. A Fiancé for Yasmina is a fresh take on the ensemble drama that swept the awards at the Malaga Film Festival as Best Film, Best Actress, and & Audience Awards. Director Irene Cardona will be in attendance for a Q&A session following the October 16 screening.

Camino Saturday, October 17, 2:00pm, Wednesday, October 21, 8:00pm A daring, compulsively watchable melodrama against religious fundamentalism inspired by real events, Camino dances, stomps, and kicks the viewer's emotions while focused on an 11-year-old girl simultaneously faced with two completely new events in her life: falling in love and dying. On his third film Fesser (The Miracle of P. Tinto, Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure) once more offers a child's perspective on the adult world. Newcomer Camacho navigates the most sophisticated cinematic ordeals with courage and bravura. In the unpleasant role of her mother, Elias fearlessly brings the viewer face-to-face with extreme fanaticism. The uncompromising script is not anti-religious, though it successfully condemns the dehumanizing effects of religious extremism. It is earmarked for media attention thanks to its biting criticism of the controversial Opus Dei movement and Catholic fundamentalism in general. Widely acclaimed at its San Sebastian debut this year, the film won six Goya awards (Spanish Academy Awards) including Best Director, Best Film and Best Original Script. Above all, Camino intertwines melodrama, horror and animation in outrageous new ways to enrich us with what is one of the most powerful Spanish films of the decade.

The Sound of the Sea(De Profundis)Saturday, October 17, 10:00amTuesday, October 20, 9:00pm Spanish graphic novelist Miguelanxo Prado, one of the best-known and important European comic authors, turns to animation with The Sound of the Sea, a simple and lyrical labor of love about freedom, passion, and loss. A woman plays the viola while her painter partner, fascinated by the sea, is away on a fishing boat. The boat is taken by a storm and, with a mermaid, he undertakes a dreamlike underwater journey through a series of evocative seascapes. The Sound of the Sea is a strange and fantastic history of love, attacking adults and infants alike. With themes brought to life by the digitization of thousands of the Helmer's oil paintings, drawings, and acrylics, it offers an ode to the ocean that feels like a return to the early principles of cartoon art. The unique film is a creative voyage of a painter, a game of metaphors, but ultimately an homage to the Sea (the real sea and its mythical qualities) that will stay with you.

The Shame(La Vergüenza)Saturday, October 17, 8:00pmMonday, October 19, 9:00pmThe feature directorial debut from the strongest emerging talent in Spain, award-winning writer David Planell boldly allows us a glimpse into the home of Pepe and Lucia, a modern and attractive couple with a big problem: they cannot handle Manu, their eight-year-old Peruvian adopted child. They soon realize the price they must pay if they want to go ahead with their brazen plan: to send him back. Planell, the director of the multi-award winning shorts (Ponys, Trivial) skillfully makes the jump from screenwriter to director, using this strong premise to tell a caustic, tender, and funny tale about doubts, paradoxes, and the wounds of an ashamed couple. The film was the top performer at this year's Malaga Film Festival.

Amateurs Sunday, October 18, 9:00pmTuesday, October 20, 7:00pm Julio Nieves is a 65-year-old foreman who has spent his entire life in the Madrid suburb of Vallecas. In the blink of an eye, he goes from contentedly facing his retirement alone to the possibility of companionship in the form of a 16-year-old girl from Marseille, who claims to be his daughter. But what if she's not his flesh and blood? And what if Nieves takes her in to ease the pain of his own solitude? How far can people go to avoid being alone?

Ramírez Friday, October 16, 9:15pmSunday, October 18, 7:00pm Ramírez is a confident loner whose fox-like ways and alluring face allows him to wander aimlessly through life. Despite a luxurious Madrid apartment and upper-middle-class status, he has chosen a life of crime. A drug dealer by day, and by night a dangerous hunter of anonymous women-objects of his perverse "artistic" tendencies. His character is shrouded in mystery although perhaps the key to unlocking it rests in his indifference to his bed-ridden mother. As his obsessions with one-night stands and photography crash together and in an unforgettable climax, he becomes a victim of his own heartlessness.

One-Armed Trick(El Truco del Manco) Monday, October 19, 7:00pm Santiago Zannou makes an impressive feature film debut in this winner of three Goya awards (Spanish Film Academy) including Best Debut Film, Best Acting, and Best Music. Paralyzed on half of his body from childhood, Cuajo has a single dream: to succeed in music. Together with his friend Adolfo, he attempts to set up a studio while gathering some of Barcelona's freshest hip-hop talent. One-Armed Trick features some of the hottest stars of Spanish rap-among them Elio Sagues, Ovone Candela, and La Mala Rodriguez and El Langui, lead singer of La Excepción, recently voted the best Spanish-language rappers on MTV.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Global Partnerships, in the Business of Hope

This past weekend, there were a couple of articles in The Seattle Times that caught my eye.

One was an editorial entitled, "Especially in hard times, we must invest in our women." This article espoused the idea that families and communities can be best helped through the women: "More than ever before, women are playing a critical role in protecting the well-being of our families and communities."

This immediately reminded me of one of my pet causes, Global Partnerships. And sure enough--the editorial was co-authored by Leanne Moss and Bill and Paula Clapp--the latter two being the founders of that very organization. Global Partnerships is a fabulous cause that works with women in rural Latin America, most of them indigenous, offering hope for self-sufficiency, self-esteem and equality through microcredit loans.

What first lured me in? That just $50 of mine can help a woman get on her feet, starting a business doing something she knows how: weaving, baking, sewing, retail ... She pays that loan off and the $50 goes to the next woman who has a skill she'd like to share to put a roof over her family's heads, or help see her kids get educated.

I saw a documentary, No Son Invisibles, during the Seattle International Latino Film Festival a few weeks' back that showed in amazing detail the kind of help and hope organizations like Global Partnerships can bring to a community. It all starts with one woman, and what we may consider pocket change. Then she's in business, working hard, and she's relatively successful--and it's contagious. The other women want to have that, too. They make a pact (peer lending) whereby in many cases no new loans are given until the first one is paid off, and the lendee is held accountable by her peers as well as by the lender. And then after paying off the first loan on time, she has an opportunity to borrow more to expand her business. And so on ...

So it's that time of year when I'd like to promote a very important event. It's the organization's annual fundraiser on Tuesday, October 20, 11:30am - 1:15pm at the Seattle Westin. Please consider attending the Global Partnerships Business of Hope Luncheon and learning about the wonderful ways this organization works to help the poor free themselves from poverty in Central and South America. I think they may in Mexico by now, as well. Here's a link to check out the event and learn more about the work Global Partnerships does.

The second article from the Times this past weekend was about how Global Partnerships and PATH are teaming up with Pro Mujer (Pro Woman) to bring health services to the same populations; as Global Partnerships CEO Rick Beckett points out, "poverty and poor health are inextricably linked." I'm sure this new partnership will be among the announcements they share with Business of Hope Luncheon attendees. I'll never forget the year they announced that my school, Seattle University, had invested a half-million dollars in their program. I can't tell you how proud I was to be affiliated with that school.

Events of past years have been wildly successful, and I'm really hoping this year is no different. The folks at Global Partnerships, like Chris Megargee, really show gratitude for their connections and donors. So, if you can afford to do it, go--and learn how so few American dollars can turn so many families around in rural Latin America.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Latino Market Numbers Amaze

So the problem with an event-filled month like Hispanic Heritage Month is that I get behind in posts and .. filing. I'm working on both now.

Speaking of this month of events, did you know that an estimated 90,000 Latinos turned out for our area's biggest event of the year: Fiestas Patrias at the Puyallup Fair. That's double the Latino attendance last year. It just keeps growing. A reflection of the growing overall Hispanic presence here in the Puget Sound region.

Last week I attended a great workshop hosted by the City of Federal Way. And this is my opportunity to say "Bravo" to Federal Way, because this City has its own Hispanic Liaison--Teniel Sabin--who is a very approachable young lady who is helping Federal Way officials effectively reach out to its Latino residents and make services and opportunities known. Very cool!

Anyway, this workshop was entitled, "Business Development in the Hispanic Market." I expected a lot of companies to show up, looking for ways to better link to Latinos locally. There were some, yes, but there were also a fair number of Hispanics--established business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, others in transition. That surprised me, but I thought that was cool that they were showing up for a government workshop, which by the way, was partially presented bilingually.

Before the presentation attendees were encouraged to check out several displays of some of the services available, including those of Washington CASH and others.

Idalie Muñoz was the speaker. She worked for the U.S. Census in a past life--so she loves numbers. Idalie covered a lot of data, most of which I was very familiar with but will repeat here nonetheless for those of you just tuning in:
  • There are about 46 million Latinos in the U.S. That's about 15% of our total population. In fact, in the entire world, the only country with more Hispanics is Mexico.
  • Washington is one of 16 states that has at least a half-million Hispanic residents.
  • Washington is one of 20 states wherein Hispanics are the largest minority.
Check this out--overall, buying power (personal income for spending) is growing by leaps and bounds in the Hispanic segment, especially when you compare it to the non-Hispanic population. In Washington, while the non-Hispanic population saw 265.9% growth in buying power, Hispanics experienced 788.1% growth!

Between 1990-2008, the Hispanic segment saw a great advantage nationally as well.
  • Hispanics: 348.9%
  • Non-Hispanics: 140.75%
And watch the growth that is expected to take place when we elongate that time period to 1990-2013!
  • Hispanics: 554.3%
  • Non-Hispanics 211.1%
The main message here is: In this shrinking economy, the Hispanic market is growing. And so is its pocketbook!

National numbers from the U.S. Census show unbelievable Hispanic buying power growth:
1990 - $12 billion
2000 - $450 billion
2008 - $951 billion
>>and forecast for 2013? $1.4 TRILLION.

What are some of the factors in this growth? It's the fastest-growing segment, there's a higher level of education attained now versus in the past, this segment boast a larger young population entering the job market, and a fast-growing number of Hispanic-owned businesses were cited by Idalie.

In addition to U.S. Census numbers, she also referenced The Multicultural Economy 2008, from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, University of Georgia. It's an amazing reference for anyone interested in an in-depth look at some more current numbers.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bravo, Nordstrom!

...And I'm not just referring to yesterday's Fall Fashion Show.

When it seems most companies are pulling back on sponsorships and special events, Nordstrom steps up to the plate and more. I read an editorial in The Seattle Times the other day that hailed the retailer for stepping up and taking over a sponsorship when another company backed down.

And of course there's the annual Latina Empowerment Summit, what appears to be a venture between Nordstrom and local iconic leader Dr. Sandra Madrid. In past years, an employee or intern of mine would attend the event, meant for Latinas. This year, I sent myself.

I am so glad I finally had an opportunity to see what the fuss is all about! It's a half-day of inspiration, of laughter, of sharing. Truly empowering, even for this gringa.

The day was kicked off with Nordstrom staff (Go, Amelia!) and Dr. Madrid who is always so warm and welcoming; then Marisa Rivera-Albert took over. She is the president of MPowerment Works and previously served as president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute. This woman is the BOMB--she has amazing energy and just makes you feel GOOD.

And she offered up some cool figures to show us just how important women are to U.S. marketers:
  • Women are responsible for 83% of all consumer purchases in the U.S.
  • Women own 70% of small businesses.
She also talked about Latinas specifically:
  • Latinas are the fastest-growing segment among small business.
  • Among Latinos, women have 62% of the purchasing power.
Marisa made a good point when she said that "opportunity + preparation = success." An easy formula for success. She said the two things we all need to thrive are 1) a mentor and 2) allies.

After Marisa lifted us with her candor and passion, we had the pleasure of hearing from a panel of women who were each so different from each other.

Blanca Santander
An artist and communicator, Blanca celebrated the achievement of getting a tote bag featuring her beautiful work distributed throughout U.S. Barnes & Noble stores. Hurrah! I urge you to seek out this piece and buy it. I think she said it was just $10, but the art is priceless--very magical.

Blanca urged Summit attendees to "Follow your heart, no matter how difficult," explaining that doors were going to open if we follow our passion. She talked about how hard it is to be a successful female artist, and that being Latina makes it that much more difficult.

The Rt. Reverend Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera
Bishop Rivera was a hoot! She had a wonderful, calming presence, but her humor was fantastic. She is the first and only Latina bishop (and one of only 27 women, of thousands of bishops). She's the 12th female bishop in the Episcopal Church. So she's clearly a pioneer. Oh and she had a role model: Her father was the first U.S. Hispanic bishop in the Episcopal Church.

She shared a telling story about discrimination: That when she lived in Northern California, a neighbor was trying to keep Latinos out, mentioning that he/she didn't "want those people moving in." Nedi replied, "You should know, then, that about 60% of your current neighbors are 'those people' and that I am also 'those people.'"

She explained that every time she's been in transition, she's been open to a greater number of choices. Her mission? "To help people. We're here to serve one another."

Sonia Rodriguez
Sonia is a current council member of the Yakima City Council, and is running for re-election. Sounds easy, considering she's the only Latina/o candidate (and the only Latina/o currently serving). But it's not. Despite the fact that Yakima has a Hispanic population density of 40%, there still exists a lot of discrimination there. Many there fear that the Latinos will "take over" if they amass power, shared Sonia.

Her advice for success? "Always take risks. Don't stay in your comfort zones."

And she said something else that she finds to be a misconception about Latinos. "They think I can represent the entire Latino community," but, she warned, "You can't group us all together." As for Sonia, she's a young mother and attorney--and leads the largest firm in Yakima.

By the way, a bag was passed as the speakers talked, and it filled with checks and cash for the Committee to Re-Elect Sonia Rodriguez. Sonia's platform focuses on the gang problem, public safety, economic development, and control of the budget. If you'd like to contribute, here's the address:

Committee to Re-Elect Sonia Rodriguez
P.O. Box 768
Yakima WA 98907

Sometime during the morning's events, they asked who had been to previous Latina Empower Summits, and many of those in attendance had--and one had been there for every single event.

There was something else I just have to relate: Mother-and-daugher pairings were asked to stand and be introduced, and there were at least 10 of those pairings--including one representing not two but *three* generations! (Which reminded me of a photo The P-I took of my grandmother, my mom, my little sister and I--in matching dresses--in front of the Women's University Club, back in the day.) It was pretty neat.

Other cool stuff happened, such as the "Cosmetics Presentation," which I frankly dreaded would be a hard sell. It wasn't. It was just some cool Nordstrom employees representing different brands and products, willing to show us how the products work and also willing to give some of it away. Women were asking questions about their particular skin types and situations, and were very engaged. So in the end that was a very positive part of the program.

Fun stuff was given out all day (I was not one of the lucky ones)--mostly from Nordstrom (including a coveted pedicure at the Nordstrom Spa). Also - It was really cool of SAM to offer up free passes to the museum for us all, and Capitol Hill's Barrio to give us all gift cards!

Beautiful event. I will continue to encourage my Latina friends to attend. And now I know why, first-hand.