Cinco de Mayo: Authenticity Connects Everyone to the Cultural Celebration
Cinco de Mayo is one of the best examples of cultural appropriation in American pop culture today, and a very visible example of how much non-Latinos crave the vibrancy of Latino cultural celebrations.
Yes, the meaning of Cinco de Mayo is lost on many Americans. A recent Univision poll says that 62% of Hispanics have observed Cinco de Mayo in the past, occasionally or every year, and that a majority of Hispanics believe Americans have no idea what Cinco de Mayo represents. That lack of knowledge (or indifference) led to several news anchors’ apologies for crossing the line in their “reporting” about Cinco de Mayo last year.
Authenticity and Cultural Respect Count
Still, with some authenticity and cultural respect, this is one of those retail windows that marketers can leverage to test their approach to activating Latino culture as a means to diversifying their brand’s range of consumer experiences. In an increasingly cluttered marketing world, brands need new ways to connect with consumers at deeper, more engaging levels. If they can figure out the right approach to activating Latino culture, brands will see new opportunities in holidays such as el Día del Niño, el Día de los Reyes Magos, and my personal recommendation to break the Halloween clutter – el Día de los Muertos.
Cinco de Mayo has largely been activated by beer brands, leading to its moniker of Cinco de Drinko or Drinko de Mayo. But at the same time, it provides an outlet − an easy, low-barrier way for non-Latinos to celebrate Latino-style for a day. Sure, some of the festivities and props are borderline-to-full-on stereotypical, but brands could leverage this in a positive light. For example, they could provide easy, low-risk ways for mom to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with her family by helping her expose her kids to more authentic flavors, movies, stories, history, and art. That would be a real opportunity to celebrate the pride Latinos have in their culture.
Growing interest in Latino Culture
Underneath the stereotypes we’ll undoubtedly see in bars and restaurants, and plastered on social media, there’s also a genuine interest in, and even a craving for, Latino culture. In today’s multicultural mainstream, brands have a duty to activate Latino culture in an authentic way to help satisfy Millennials’ desire for deeper cultural experiences. Brands that do so successfully not only will win the hearts of Latinos, but also spark a more meaningful connection with the non-Latinos they invite into the celebration.