According to Lee Vann, president of Captura Group, a firm specializing in reaching Hispanics, the literal translation fails
to account for cultural issues, such as stigma or "machismo," that may affect how Hispanic men perceive erectile dysfunction.
Pfizer did a better job adapting its Viagra brand to the Hispanic audience on the Web portal
http://Terra.com/, intended for Spanish-speaking Americans. The sponsored content on this site features imagery and information that better
reflect the readers.
Eli Lilly is also guilty of the direct-translation approach, with the Spanish-language version of its Web site for depression
drug Cymbalta (duloxetine). Although the company uses culturally relevant imagery on the site, the text on the Spanish version
is an old iteration of the campaign, while the English site for Cymbalta has since been updated.
A final example of multicultural marketing comes from Ortho McNeil, which produced a stand-alone site,
http://ElParche.com/, targeted to Hispanics for its birth-control drug Ortho Evra (norlegstromin/ethinyl estradiol). This company should be commended
for investing in establishing a truly targeted site, with a completely different navigation, design, and message than the
general-market site. However, it stops short of addressing Hispanics' issues with birth control.
"Research has shown that barriers to birth control among Hispanics include language, embarrassment, and lack of knowledge
of the system," says Vann. "
http://ElParche.com/ is very product-driven and could have addressed these barriers through more prominent educational content about the safety
and history of birth control. The idea is that before a Hispanic woman is comfortable with a birth-control patch, she needs
to be comfortable with birth control in general."
Vann also points to ElParche.com's tagline: Sobre tu cuerpo. Fuera de tu mente. (On your body, off of your mind.) Again, the slogan is a literal translation from an old English version. "The tagline works
well in English," says Vann, "but may not resonate with Hispanic women."
What Marketers Should Know
When marketing to diverse audiences, companies need to do more than just add a few photos of the target audience to a translated
version of the general-market site. Language nuances and a strong commitment to respect should create the foundation for all
To get there, companies should conduct focus groups and market research—and seek media partners that truly understand the
subtleties of how to talk to this growing online audience.
English-language ads targeting bilingual Hispanics on sites such as Yahoo!, Telmundo, and MSN Latino also can be quite effective.
In this way, pharma companies can target bilingual Hispanics online without necessarily investing in a separate Spanish-language
banner campaign and Web site, although creating Web destinations in both languages is advisable.
A lot of brand managers abandon their Spanish sites when a new general-market campaign is launched, instead of incurring the
additional expense to update their Spanish sites—examples include Celebrex (celecoxib) and Elidel (pimecrolimus). This lack
of planning, budget, and foresight cuts to the heart of a community that often feels under-represented, ignored, and disrespected
by big business.
Pharma marketers must face up to the true faces of their customers. Once the investment is made in properly targeting and
educating these groups, pharma companies may be surprised at how loyal an audience they've created.
Debrianna Obara is
vice president of media at Avenue A/Razorfish. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org