POV: Performance of celebrities, brand ambassadors and brand characters in targeting the U.S. Hispanic Market

Published by: leslie on Thu, 04/19/12


Culturati is a cross-cultural, market research & consulting firm that specializes in the U.S. Hispanic market. Over the years, its researchers have interfaced with thousands of U.S. Hispanic consumers & shoppers.  The firm offers great value add to its client through U.S. Hispanic insights expertise and inherent understanding of the various Hispanic segments that compose this burgeoning U.S. Hispanic population.


  • Incorporating the use of celebrities, brand ambassadors and brand characters when targeting U.S. Hispanic (USH) consumers is a successful strategy to improve brand awareness and recognition, and to help establish a more direct (or personal) connection with a brand.
    • This is particularly relevant for USH consumers because generally speaking, having spent many years in their countries of origin many do not have the history with “American” brands and “American” advertising.
    • Additionally, warmth and connectedness are two Hispanic core values that are leveraged with this strategy.



A successful celebrity endorsement can give the brand instant credibility.  To maximize the potential for success, the celebrity needs to meet the following criteria:

  • Be recognizable (although not necessarily by name)

–   The first and perhaps most critical factor in a successful celebrity endorsement – one that may be obvious but not always present.

  • Be relatable

–   The celebrity must be someone who consumers can identify with.

–   For Hispanics, they can more easily relate to Hispanic celebrities; whether they are foreign-born, first or second generation, is irrelevant – what matters most is that they are connected to their Hispanic culture/roots.

–   However, if the celebrities speak Spanish, they are more relatable to those who are Spanish-preferred, even in print ads where they do not have to speak.

  • Be likeable and perceived as approachable

–   These go hand in hand with relate-ability as consumers want someone who they hold in high regard, who is inspirational, charismatic, easy to talk to, etc.

  • Be admired/aspirational

–   Ideally, the celebrity would not only be likeable and approachable but most importantly, aspirational in relation to the category (e.g., in Beauty, be perceived as beautiful, having exceptionally beautiful hair, natural or younger-looking skin, etc.).

  • “Fit” the brand

–   A celebrity should have some type of association/connection to the brand or its category, and this association should be clear to the audience. The celebrity should have needs that are similar to that of the target audience or their personality/characteristics should fit within those of the brand.  For example, a celebrity needs to be a mom/be perceived as a dedicated or loving mom in order to have credibility within the Baby Care category.



  • Successful brand ambassadors, such as the Verizon guy or the Orbit girl can help brands be more easily identifiable.  However, as with celebrity endorsements, a brand ambassador must “fit” the brand in order to be perceived as credible.
    • The brand ambassador should be someone who embodies the brand being endorsed (i.e., shares the same values, style and personality).
  • From a more executional standpoint, it is recommended that, if using a celebrity as a brand ambassador, he or she plays himself/herself and not a character.  Seeing a celebrity play a character in a commercial may trump credibility and create confusion, especially for the less acculturated consumers who tend to take messages rather literally.



  • Brand characters can be extremely successful at improving brand recognition.
    • Given a generalized lower level of familiarity with brands available in the U.S. and given the language barrier, having a character associated with a brand helps improve brand recall as well as recognition at shelf.
    • Being more sensorial and due to the language barrier, USH consumers (particularly those less acculturated) generally rely on visual cues to help identify and differentiate products.  Having a character associated to the brand facilitates brand/product “findability” at shelf.
  • However, as with celebrity endorsement and brand ambassadors, brand characters need to meet the following criteria in order to be relevant:
    • Be distinguishable;
    • Be visually appealing; and
    • Bring the brand’s equities (or desired ones) to life by having parallel characteristics with the brand.
  • Brand characters are also helpful at dispelling any ambiguity in a product, e.g., the Honey Nut Cheerios bee character helps clarify the honey in Honey Nut Cheerios by communicating ‘miel de abeja’, not just ‘miel’ (syrup).
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