Having spent the last couple of years working with global clients on developing regional programs for Latin America, I´m now asking myself: What’s next? How are we working across borders and what borders do we have to cross in order to transform opinions of those who matter most to our clients and who live in different countries, speak different languages and have such different cultures?
Latin America is a region with 20 countries, spanning 21million square miles. It has a population of more than 550 million people. The official racial and ethnic breakdowns are as follows: 36% Caucasian and 60% mixed race, 30% white/Indigenous Indian and 30% black/white. Additionally, 33% of the entire regional population lives in poverty. A startling reality is that 80% of Latin America’s wealth is owned by no more than 1,000 families.
No matter the racial/ethnic, or economic divisions and disparities, three things, what I call the three “Fs,” are the common threads throughout the region: family, faith and football (soccer).
Family is sacred in Latin America. People in the region refer to family not only as the people who share their household, but also to all the extended family. Families include not just brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, cousins and in-laws, but even close friends. The mother is the strongest figure in the family and is very well respected and one of the only figures perceived as a valid authority. Mother’s Day is a very important holiday in the region with very high levels of advertising and consumer spending across all industries.
Faith is also an important thing in Latin America families. People have the need to believe in something. No matter which religion people say they belong to, though Catholicism dominates, men, women and children worship and there is a strong belief in miracles.
Football (soccer) in Latin America is the only activity that transcends social class. Its importance goes beyond that of any other sport or form of entertainment. Two hundred professional matches are played every weekend throughout the year all over the region, presenting a huge marketing platform for brands.
Although some companies want to have a regional influencer program, we cannot forget the diversity, cultural differences, language differences and historic conflicts that the different countries in Latin America have.
We work with our clients to create a regional approach, a framework that supports a regional strategy. We provide counsel and create the framework from which the program can be developed locally. We then map influencers who have a regional impact. We train the local teams and we identify local risks and opportunities. But there is always the local flavor, the local adaptation of the strategy, the local “go” or “ no go” that brings alive any regional strategy.
So while there is such a thing as a regional strategy, the value of it is the capacity of local teams to take it, learn from it, adapt it and make it happen.