Univision’s mission is to inform, empower, and entertain U.S. Latinos, which for the past 60+ years has included advocating for underrepresented communities. This past year, that work has meant raising a mirror to prejudices, colorism, and anti-blackness within the Latino community.
The main platform used in Univision’s ongoing campaign is Se Habla USA, a bilingual brand for and by young Latinos who identify as both fully American and fully Latino. Since launching in 2018, Se Habla USA has grown a hyper-engaged and loyal following on Instagram and Facebook, cementing a firm relationship with the audience through content that showcases the often-humorous shared experiences of growing up Latino. But just as joy connects our audience, so does hurt.
Since the brand’s inception, a priority has always been to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion. Over the last year, Se Habla USA has double downed on efforts that support dismantling racism within the Latino community. Approaching content through this lens, actionable objectives were developed for the brand and its followers that would indicate a successful campaign: 1) Encourage and facilitate traditionally taboo conversations among loved ones, 2) Educate the audience on Black and Afro-Latino history and 3) Advocate for diversity and inclusion in Hispanic media, highlighting traditionally underrepresented voices.
Given Se Habla USA’s historically light and joyful tone, we couldn’t predict for sure how the audience would react to deeper conversations that challenged culturally based biases, but we knew the Black and Afro-Latino communities deserved for Univision to encourage change via this platform.
Se Habla USA’s content strategy always prioritized showcasing the diversity of races, skin tones, hair textures, nationalities, and experiences that make up the Latino audience. In May of this year, immediately following the initial protests demanding justice for the death of George Floyd, Se Habla USA paused all pre-planned content and became laser-focused on supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in a thought-provoking and serious way that met the moment. That strategy centered around three pillars: 1) remaining nimble enough to meet immediate creative and messaging needs as they arose, 2) rolling out content that could address the specific racial biases of the Latino community, 3) celebrating Black and Afro-Latino joy in a way that is intersectional.
IMPLEMENTATION & KEY FEATURES
We first researched, created, and published a comprehensive resource guide on Univision.com, providing tools on how to support Black and Afro-Latino lives with our audience’s voices, actions, and dollars. We followed the guide with a social series highlighting Black and Afro-Latino/a creators and business owners within the Se Habla USA community.
While resource sharing and amplifying voices continued throughout the campaign, the strategy shifted to educating and facilitating tough conversations.
Creative on the history of Juneteenth was shared in both English and Spanish as well as addressing the nuances surrounding the Fourth of July.
The “Never Again Say…” content series featured common but problematic sayings that Latinos heard growing up and continue to use as adults. The sayings are so engrained in Spanish vernacular, their origins and the way they instill colorism have been lost, subtly perpetuating racism. Notable examples include the phrases “Pelo Malo” (bad hair) to describe naturally tight curly hair and “Hay que mejorar la raza” (you’ve got to improve the race) to encourage marrying someone with lighter skin. As expected, this series was controversial, but the comments were filled with raw conversations among followers, resulting in many reacting to the CTA and pledging in the comments to “never again say” any of the phrases.
It is important to note that the bulk of the campaign was live during the month of June which is also Pride Month and Immigrant Heritage Month, both of which Se Habla USA honors as it’s important to represent the intersectionality of Latinos and push towards change of reducing them to a single box. This part of the campaign highlighted queer undocumented immigrants, trans Latinx activists, Afro-Latino immigrants, queer Black creators and more.
Real Talk, a partnership between Se Habla USA and Univision’s Creator Network, launched as an ongoing virtual panel series facilitating tough and long overdue conversations regarding race within the Latino community. Livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook Live, all panels gathered experts, influencers, and Univision talent for raw discussions on issues such as racism, allyship, holding friends and family accountable, and more. Addressing traditionally taboo topics with experts helped to develop a solid understanding of how the Latino community can come together to shape the future.
Reactions to the total campaign were overwhelmingly positive and engaging. And while our objectives were heavily focused on facilitating through-provoking discussions and supporting long-term cultural change, the numerical results also indicate a strategic and successful program.
When posted in late May 2020, the brand’s initial statement supporting Blacks and Afro-Latinos lives was the 3rd -most liked post in Se Habla USA’s history, receiving zero negative reactions. As we charged ahead with 100% Afro-centric content, the average engagement rate on Instagram, Se Habla USA’s primary platform, tripled from 2.1% to 6.3% within the first month. (For reference, our industry benchmark is ~1.2%).
The “Never Again Say…” series generated robust conversation and delivered some of the account’s highest-liked posts of all time.
The Se Habla USA Instagram account organically gained 1400+ followers in nine weeks. These results, coupled with the engagement gains, are a testament to the nuanced and thoughtful way in which the creative and community management strategies were executed.
The Real Talk panels averaged a watch time of 20 minutes. In a world where virtual events are abundant and attention is short, viewers tuning in for a third of the panel is a big win. Comments during the livestreams applauded these unheard-of honest conversations about racism in the Latino community and asked for more.
To conclude, the high level of engagement and positive feedback for creating a safe place to have long-overdue conversations in the Latino community solidifies Se Habla USA’s strong reputation for inclusivity and credibility.