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The road to the White House runs through Latinolandia or not

November 5, 2016

Houston, TX November 5, 2016- As of this writing we are four days away from a historic election that will dramatically affect our lives for decades to come. In the past the presidential candidate who won at least 30% of the Hispanic vote became president.

However, that was based on the traditional blocks of voters who turned out to vote. After the 2012 election, the GOP commissioned an autopsy report.

One of the key points was that the party needed to grow the minority base by doing outreach work. Politics aside and strictly from a marketing and advertising perspective I’ve had many discussions with peers in my field.

As a long-time media veteran and marketer, I’ve followed the process since the primaries. One thing we can all agree on is that this election cycle is nothing like we have seen in our nation’s history. Politics will never be the same.

Radical change in traditional media is one of the byproducts of candidates blowing up the old model. This cycle we saw the emergence of Twitter, blogs and social media content upend breaking news from traditional news networks.

In many ways, it was the perfect storm for many entities and institutions. Many books and documentaries will come out of this and students will study lessons learned akin to such great works as, “The Art of War.”

I bring you this insightful interview from one of those minds which works in the advertising and marketing field. Jose Monterrosa of Imagina Communications in Houston, Texas has followed the tactical moves of both candidates as though it was the FIFA World Cup.

Since this blog is about Hispanic Marketing. We have tightly framed the discussion within that context. Our aim is to pull the curtain and have an academic conversation.

I reiterate, this discussion is about tactical strategies, not an ideology which we will leave to the noisy talking heads.

V: Up to now, has Donald Trump executed a winning strategy? If you think, he has. As a marketer, if you were advising a political client or group what elements can you isolate to his success?

J: We will know if it’s a winning strategy until Nov. 8. My perception is that he has run a unique campaign by US standards which are usually, soft talk, kissing babies with a smile in public and punches on the side. So far Trump has been very direct and very aggressive.

The most important item of his campaign so far, in my view, has been the simplicity and consistency in the main message and brand promise which we recognize as Make America Great Again. If you look on the Clinton side, it’s hard to recall what her main message is or has been.

Single messages and brand promises are important because they are that external expression that makes it very clear to people, in a very cluttered and noisy media environment, what the brand stands for and what it will do for you no matter what the adversary is trying to say about you.

The single message also positions your brand to that choice set in the mind of voters. Now, that single message and brand promise can’t stand alone; they need to be supported with what we know in our industry as the Reasons To Believe. I think that the Trump campaign has been very flexible and tactical about those reasons to believe. RTBs have been his ammunition all along.

V: Have you ever seen this type of loyal base of voters for a presidential candidate in Latin America? Why do you think they are so loyal to a candidate such as Donald Trump? I have never seen a Teflon candidate as Donald Trump.

J: I strongly believe that Trump has a lot of similarities with the brand personality of the now deceased, Hugo Chavez from Venezuela when he was president. Hugo Chavez was bold, aggressive and extremely controversial.

Like it or not, Chavez was a strong leader who reached high levels of popularity and unpopularity far beyond Venezuela. The trick is that he knew how to manage the news media but more importantly, how to keep them engaged and focused on him.

Trump has done the same thing, especially when he was running for the Republican nomination. For the presidential election, he has been challenged many times by the Clinton team which I consider to be masters of managing the news media too but with a different style so this has been a clash of titans if you want to see it that way.

In regards to loyalty, no product or service can survive if there is no need for it. Again, like it or not, we have to acknowledge that there is a large part of the U.S. population who do not identify with the ideals of the Democratic Party nor the policies implemented by the Executive.

There is a lot of anger. Anyone that analyzes this can see that Trump followers feel marginalized and forgotten by the status quo in D.C. too. Trump has targeted them, and it is my impression that his followers see him as their last chance to change things.

V: Do you think his damage control has been successful? If not, where do you say he has faltered and as a PR and Marketing Executive how would have you advised it be handled differently?

J: I think the Trump team is careless about damage control. They are probably too busy trying to catch up with Trump or planning his next news media controversy because, as you have heard in the past, the best defense is to attack.

One of the core rules for engaging clients in our industry is their willingness to listen and follow the advice of their consultants. I don’t think Trump is that person, so there is no need for me to provide him advice, honestly.

V: Trump has attempted to court the Latino Vote, and he has some loyal followers. This is caused a division with family and friends. Talk about what you have observed.

J: Quite the opposite, I think. Trump has not courted the Latino vote. He has used Latinos, specifically those that are here undocumented, as his scapegoat to court his followers.

To be fair, putting the blame on others has been a very effective tactic for people in politics for decades. Hugo Chavez was excellent at blaming the rich and the U.S. for the problems of the poor in Latin America. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have put the blame on Wall Street for the income inequality issues in this country.

There is no such thing as having a pleasant conversation when you talk about politics. The current levels of internal ideological polarization make those conversations even worse. It’s sad to see friends and families divided over matters related to politics.

V: What should have been done in your opinion to expand the Latino vote or other segments he needs to win?

J: He should not have begun his political campaign by pointing the finger to the “Mexicans” in the first place. His statement was a news media bombshell that set the tone of his campaign and his strategy.

I believe that those like me that are Latinos and work in the marketing industry did not take it personal because we knew where he was going but to the average Latino family, his comments were extremely offensive.

The anger and the resentment is there in our community, and it will take years to repair if there is any interest in repairing it. This resentment has naturally spilled over to the Republican Party brand.

V: Who do you forecast will win on Nov. 8?

J: Trump is a very tactical guy which gives him the flexibility to be unpredictable and maneuver at his discretion in the political environment.

I think that the last three days before election day will be critical for him assuming that he does not want to give the Clinton campaign team time to react; however, the Clinton team may be thinking the same way. They know how to play this game too.

Hopefully, this craziness will end next week, and this country will choose a leader that can bring people together.

V: Any other closing remarks?
J: Hispanics will make history on November 8. On the other side of that significant day, we need to focus on what is truly important such as education, business development, engagement and the like. The browning of America presents challenges and opportunities it’s up to us to chart our destiny.

[Image: Victor Escalante]

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