Putting a Little English on It

Spanish-language television leader Univision experimenting with English-language commercials on main broadcast network

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Spanish-language television leader Univision is experimenting with running commercials in English on its main broadcast network.

“There are a lot of advertisers who still haven’t done Spanish-language creative, so to the extent that we can put them on and it makes sense, we’re going to do it,” says Univision Communications CEO Randy Falco. “It probably will not amount to very much,” Falco adds. “We prefer that advertisers get the sense that they need to speak to this community differently than they do through English-language ads. It’s a different community. They can’t just dub English-language ads into Spanish, which is often the case. They really have to start thinking about doing advertising in culture and speak to this community in a different way.”

Most recently, English-language spots ran on Univision during the music awards show Premio Lo Nuestro. Univision has also tested spots in English on UniMás and regularly airs spots on radio and online.

News Corp.’s new network, Mundo Fox, offers English-language commercials. But media buyers who specialize in Hispanic marketing don’t see the concept becoming very popular.

“I don’t know if that’s getting a lot of traction,” says Lisa Torres, president of ZO Multicultural. “I don’t know if that’s the right thing for the market either. I tend to be a fan of your commercials should match the language of the programming that you’re in. I don’t think it’s in their best interest to take English-language commercials, but I don’t run Univision.”

Keith Turner, president for sales and marketing at Univision, says it’s early for feedback, but “we have had no pushback from the viewers.” Turner says Univision wants to “stay true to who we are, but at the same time there are certain brands that don’t necessarily translate in Spanish, so we have run English-language.”

Univision already offers Englishlanguage closed captions on some of its programming. The next step would be creating programming in English. Falco says Univision is not in the business now, but he can see it down the road.

“That’s one of the ways that we will be looking to extend the brand,” Falco says. “Remember, this is about a very powerful brand, Univision, that has the highest brand affinity with this community. So as the community branches out and they start to become more bilingual and view other content in this country, we want to make sure that Univision is there with whatever it is that they’re looking for. So we’re going to be looking hard at all kinds of different content and different platforms in the future.”