Despacito: The UnBeliebable Explosion of a Bilingual Song

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by Victoria Moll-Ramírez and Marissa Armas

The fusion of a ballad/pop singer with the king of reggaeton and a little “Beliebing” has lead to the biggest song of the summer and possibly one of the biggest songs in a long time.

Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” Remix featuring Justin Bieber is currently the top song in the country. The song took the first place from DJ Khaled’s “I’m The One” which also features Bieber. This also makes the “Despacito” Remix the first predominantly Spanish language song to obtain the coveted spot on the Billboard Hot 100 since the “Macarena” in 1996

“We never, and I think I can speak for Daddy Yankee when I say this, we never in our wildest dreams saw this coming,” Luis Fonsi told NBC Latino at a recent interview in New York.

The song’s hook, “Pasito a pasito…suave, suavecito (step by step…gently, gently)” is almost prophetic in the way it has also described the journey of a smash hit that’s breaking records across the globe. The original “Despacito” has topped iTunes charts in 53 countries. Meanwhile, the remix has topped them in 59 countries. Both versions combined have nearly 1.6 billion hits on YouTube/Vevo, and that’s only scratching the surface of its long list of records.

A Spanish language hit, but then came Bieber

The original version of “Despacito” was already a hit with Spanish language stations here in the U.S. and on music charts abroad, but it was the remix featuring Justin Bieber that catapulted the sensual song into not only the mainstream but music history.

Billboard’s chart manager for Latin/R&B/Hip-Hop/Rap, Amaya Mendizabal, has watched the growth and explosion of the “Despacito” Remix. “It’s great for the industry as a whole and it sheds a great light onto Latin music,” she told NBC Latino.

But, was it just the Bieber touch that’s to credit or is there more to it? That depends on who’s asked.

“[The song] is dominated by a Latin urban platform with a little salt and pepper from Bieber,” said Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, the chair and director of graduate studies in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University.

“Stylistically the song remains significantly unchanged,” he said.

However, he does believe that Bieber’s decision to collaborate with Fonsi and Daddy Yankee was more of a business move, “Bieber, I believe, is being very strategic. This helps him maintain and transform his brand away from being a little kid.”

Mendizabal noted how in the past other chart topping Latino singers, like Shakira or Enrique Iglesias, have done two separate versions of their songs, one for their English language audience and one for their Spanish language audience.

She celebrated the fact the “Despacito” Remix didn’t do the same. “We don’t have to do a full English version to prove this is a good song.”

The fact an English version of the song wasn’t necessary is something Fonsi, a Puerto Rican raised in Florida, is excited about.

“The beautiful thing about it is that “Despacito” is not really an English crossover. It was just another song that the world made a crossover. I didn’t really push it, it just kinda went there…” he said.

Fonsi also told NBC Latino the song is about much more than just being a dance anthem.

“I think it’s about coming together. Language is not a factor anymore, you know. We’re celebrating and we’re respecting each other’s culture.”

The Emerging Multicultural Super-Consumer

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If you are in Kindergarten in America you already know that more than half of your classmates are minorities. The U.S. Census Bureau revealed in 2014 that more than half the children under 5 years old in the U.S. were ethnic minorities.  And by 2020, more than half of the nation’s population under 18 will be part of a minority race or ethnic group.

These kids will be tomorrow’s consumers in the blink of an eye, and as the U.S. consumer market continues diversify, its more critical than ever for brands to create meaningful connections with multicultural consumers if they hope to remain relevant in the future – right?

Well, in truth, the future is right now.   The traditional concept of the ‘typical American consumer’ is no longer relevant, he/she has morphed into a new form, a form that is a meld of ethnicities, cultures, and the lifestyles, preferences and behaviors that come with them. In 2017, multicultural marketing is not a niche business, it is a necessary component for all marketers.

For the last quarter century, multicultural marketing was synonymous with Hispanic marketing, and rightfully so, as the U.S. Hispanic market has grown in leaps and bounds in size and economic clout.  However, today if you’re a brand trying to reach as many multicultural consumers as possible, your multicultural marketing must also extend to the African American, Asian and Indian markets.   These markets now represent a combined 58% of U.S. multicultural consumers.  And as savvy marketers continue to seek out new potential consumers, the value propositions of these ethnic segments are simply impossible to ignore.

Purely by the numbers, the crown jewel of these segments is the Asian-Indian market.  Their median household income is nearly double that of the total U.S. ($101,899 South Asian vs. $55,775 Total U.S.)  The percentage of college graduates is more than double (72.3% South Asian vs. 30.6% Total U.S.) and the percentage of their population in professional careers is also more than double the national average (29.2% South Asian vs. 13.8% Total U.S.)

Traditionally, the biggest barrier to entry in multicultural marketing has been the additional expense of new, language-specific creative.  However, in the South Asian Market, even that is not an issue.  U.S. South Asians prefer speaking English by more than 3 to 1! (76% to 24%.  2007 Global Advertising Strategy Study) According to the Census Bureau, the overwhelming majority of South Asian Americans (80%)  speak English fluently. And they are the original “super-consumers,” over-indexing in purchase and usage of virtually every product category imaginable.

In spite of this almost unimaginable value proposition, the costs associated with a South Asian media campaign are significantly more efficient than general market media (and pretty much all other multicultural media as well!)  The budget for a single spot on a national network could easily cover the budget for an entire campaign in South Asian media.   The difference in value, for a relatively minor shift of investment, is one that should have all multicultural marketers (and the clients they represent) sitting up and taking notice.

The future is now and the time has come to ask yourself:  “exactly how ‘multi’ is my multicultural campaign?”

Your Editor Encourages: Multicultural marketing makes us great.

PepsiCo Exec Has Tough Words for Agencies

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Brad Jakeman speaks at ANA meeting
Brad Jakeman speaks at ANA meeting

PepsiCo’s Brad Jakeman Suggests Shops Have Not Kept Pace With Change

Ad agency models are breaking. Pre-roll ads are useless. Measurement models are outdated. The ad industry lacks diversity. And the phrase digital marketing should be dumped.

Those statements were among the declarations made last week by PepsiCo exec Brad Jakeman in a fiery, truth-telling presentation at the Association of National Advertising’s annual “Masters of Marketing” conference in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Jakeman — who is president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group — went so far as to suggest that even the phrase “advertising” should go by the wayside. He did so before 2,700 marketing and agency professionals at an event put on by an association that has the word advertising in its name. “Can we stop using the term advertising, which is based on this model of polluting [content],” he said.

“My particular peeve is pre-roll. I hate it,” he added. “What is even worse is that I know the people who are making it know that I’m going to hate it. Why do I know that? Because they tell me how long I am going to have to endure it — 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 15 seconds. You only have to watch this crap for another 10 seconds and then you are going to get to the content that you really wanted to see. That is a model of polluting content that is not sustainable.”

But Mr. Jakeman, whose talk was called “Designing for Disruption,” saved his toughest words for ad agencies. “The agency model that I grew up with largely has not changed today,” he said, noting that he has been in the ad industry for 25 years. “Yet agency CEOs are sitting there watching retainers disappear … they are looking at clients being way more promiscuous with their agencies than they ever have.”

Continuing the rant, he said that the “global alignment agency is a dinosaur concept” and he questioned the level of innovation. “I am really worried that this model is not going to bend — it’s going to break if we don’t really think about how to innovate,” he said.

Mr. Jakeman also ripped the industry’s lack of diversity. “I am sick and tired as a client of sitting in agency meetings with a whole bunch of white straight males talking to me about how we are going to sell our brands that are bought 85% by women,” he said. “Innovation and disruption does not come from homogeneous groups of people.”

Indeed, agencies — or at least the agency of record concept — had a tough day in the opening session of the ANA event, which ends Saturday and is being held at the sprawling Orlando World Center Marriott.

Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer — who delivered a late morning presentation — responded to a question about agencies by pointing out that the motorcycle marketer works with a lot of shops and takes a “boutique” approach. “We have not had a lead agency in about five years,” he said. “Clients must take more responsibility for creativity. It’s not the kind of thing that you should offshore.”

Disruption has been an early theme at the conference. Marketers presenting on the stage so far appear to be taking less time showcasing big campaigns and TV ads, as in years past, and more time talking about how they need to rethink their organizations and approaches from the ground up.

Mr. Richer — whose presentation was called “Fake Fight: Millennials vs. Boomers” — sought to dispel the popular notion that growth comes solely from marketing to young adults. “Youth does not own cool. Youth does not own growth. Youth does not own innovation or disruption.” he said. “Old people are a growth market, too.”

Mr. Jakeman’s presentation was almost completely devoid of self-promotional Pepsi marketing, with the exception of the blue Pepsi can he carried in his right hand. And while he questioned agency models, he was also critical of marketing organizations for not changing with the times.

He said he has been to many marketing conferences and has seen some really creative things, which he said was “awesome.” But he “hasn’t seen our industry really push for incredibly disruptive things,” he added. “We are still talking about the 30-second TV spot. Seriously?”

Trump Budgets For a Dumber, Dirtier America

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By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post

President Trump’s first budget is an attempt to reshape the federal government in his own image — crass, bellicose, shortsighted, unserious and ultimately hollow.

Unsurprisingly, Trump titled it “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” The reality is that if Congress were to accept these numbers — which it can’t possibly do — America would be made dumber, dirtier, hungrier and sicker. That may be Trump’s idea of greatness, but it’s certainly not mine.

Would we at least be safer? I doubt it. Trump wants to boost defense spending by $54 billion, or about 9 percent. But at the same time, he proposes cutting funding for the State Department by an incredible 28 percent, slashing the relatively modest hands-across-the-sea assistance and advice the United States gives to other nations. Most of the generals and admirals I know believe in projecting U.S. strength through soft power as well as hard power. Trump apparently disagrees.

As is becoming customary with this administration, the document billed as a budget is really more of a preliminary sketch. Many of the cuts it proposes are transparently designed to play to Trump’s populist constituency rather than save any meaningful amount of money.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, confessed as much. “When you start looking at places that we reduce spending, one of the questions we asked was, can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?” he said Thursday on MSNBC. “The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

Thus the Trump budget would eliminate $445 million that goes to support public broadcasting. Never mind that the millions who listen to “All Things Considered” while driving home from work include single moms, or that the millions who loved “Downton Abbey” include coal miners. The budget would also end all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

All told, ending governmental support for these cultural institutions saves a bit less than $1 billion — not even a pittance in the context of nearly $4 trillion in government spending. But the point isn’t to save money, it’s to punish the fancy-dancy “elites” who define and consume high culture. (The president’s personal idea of cultural refinement, as we know, includes a Fifth Avenue penthouse that Louis XIV would find a bit gaudy and a six-foot portrait of Donald J. Trump paid for by his charitable foundation.)

I’ve worked in Washington far too long to believe the federal bureaucracy is fat-free. But the proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent can only be seen as a first step toward dismemberment. “The president wants a smaller EPA,” Mulvaney explained. “He thinks they overreach.”

Trump wants to eliminate more than 3,200 EPA jobs, representing more than 20 percent of the workforce. It was a Republican president, Richard Nixon, who founded the agency, and it is another Republican president who apparently wants to end the federal government’s role in protecting the environment. It is perhaps no surprise that Trump wants to end EPA programs and regulations aimed at halting global warming, since he has ventured the opinion that climate change is a Chinese hoax; NASA programs to study warming would be cut as well. But the budget would also eliminate federal funding for efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. Make America’s Water Dirty Again!

The Energy Department’s Office of Science would see its $5 billion budget cut by nearly 20 percent, while the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would see its $300 million budget zeroed out. The National Institutes of Health would suffer a 19 percent cut, sharply reducing the amount of federal money available for research grants to universities.

There’s barely a peep in Trump’s budget about Medicare or Medicaid. Given the angry reaction to the Republican health-care plan, Trump must have decided — for once — that silence was the best choice.

Many of the programs Trump wants to slash or eliminate have support in Congress. The budget could never pass the Senate in this form, and probably not the House. But Trump will get some of what he wants, and consequently the nation will suffer. We get what we pay for — rather, what we elect.

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