La cuenta, please.
Because of my diet, I’m just having tomato soup. It’s not bad, but far from what the people around me are having: huge pastrami and corned beef sandwiches followed by gigantic french fries and pickles.
The long counter, the leather stools, and the narrow hall leading to a series of wooden tables side by side in the back make me feel like I am living the New York experience of the early 30s. With the main difference being that if I were actually living in the 30s, the smoke in the air would be coming from cigarettes as opposed to the grill.
The whole environment is awesome, with people getting in and out in at a pace I can hardly follow. They’re in a hurry, hungry and know exactly what they want to order.
The black and white pictures hanging on the wall show no less than famous bombshells and handsome actors of an unforgettable era. The menu is limited to dozens of things and you don’t dare request substitutions, ’cause then you might be kicked out and replaced by a new guest.
This place is everything I thought a New York deli should be: stylish and kind of old, with a particular aroma that makes my mouth water, while music and conversations make for a nice and casual ambiance. Loud, traditional and full of people speaking… Spanish?
Wait a minute, did that guy just say “matzo ball soup” with a Hispanic accent? Have I actually just heard that? I can’t reproduce the phonetics here but imagine that the word “matzo” sounded as if there was no “t” between the “a” and the “o” and “ball soup” was more like “balle soup,” or something like that. Anyway, who am I to try to translate phonetics from Spanish into English? But the guy behind the counter, oh yes, he can. Not only can he make out what’s just been said, but he is Hispanic himself, so he answers back to the customer… in Spanish, of course.
Yes, that’s right. Not only the two of them, but the guy behind the counter and the recent guest, and all the other guys behind the counter, plus three of the customers around me are Spanish speakers.
The waiter: “¿Y para beber?”
The custumer: “Té helado, gracias.”
The couple that just came in is welcomed, also in Spanish, by the guy warming up the bread.
Waiter: “¿Mesa para dos?”
The couple: “No, hoy vamos a comer en la barra…”
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, Hispanic food has been incorporated into American homes and the recipes from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela and more, add taste and a twist to everyday dishes in the U.S.
Right now, we are taking this a bit further at the agency. We are developing a campaign that actually helps American moms and dads get more intimate with all Latin flavors. And getting more intimate means considering and actually buying yellow rice, beans, seasonings, different peppers and other ingredients, as well as cooking delicious meals that would surprise their families.
The experience of coming up with a campaign of Latin flavor to the American market shows us many things. For instance,
- It’s not only Hispanics who are getting acculturated, but the other way around, too. Americans and all the other nationalities living in the U.S. are being surrounded and have surrendered to this culture.
- The search for Hispanic products is not only from Hispanics; more Americans search for new stuff with some spicy characteristics.
- On the other hand, Hispanics are searching for more and more products, since the spicy characteristic is not the only thing they are looking for anymore. It’s as if we had a change of direction, a long route to be followed.
But if I may, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Or the meatloaf, for that matter. Hispanics incorporate American eating habits into their diets, too, and I am not talking about hamburger-fries-hot dogs. I wonder how much pastrami and corned beef they have been eating. I mean, they can be seen buying products at kosher stores, street food markets, finding new and different things at the grocery store from around the corner or lining up at the checkout of big supermarkets. They are at restaurants and sandwich shops, food carts, bars and delis, doing nothing but one thing: consuming whatever is for sale in the United States.
That’s both exciting and really motivating for someone like me who has been focused on Hispanic advertising for seven months now. I see it as an opportunity to communicate with our consumer in the same manner in which they engage with their environment.
Like me, they are motivated. They feel and seem ready to go. Like the guy who is asking for matzo ball soup with a Hispanic accent, they are hungry for new things… and I am ready to take the orders.