In an effort to attract the growing Hispanic market in the United States, MasterCard International has come out with two new "priceless" TV advertisements in Spanish.
The commercials, both of which were adapted from older spots, began airing last month on Univision and Telemundo, the largest nationwide Spanish-language television networks.
In conjunction with the ad campaign, MasterCard has allied itself with the League of United Latin American Citizens, or Lulac, to develop financial education materials and to conduct community workshops on money management. Lulac is planning to test these activities in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
By and large, the Hispanic community has gotten relatively little attention from banks, considering its size. There were about 31 million Hispanic-Americans last year, and they belong to the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States. By 2010, it is expected that 15% of the total population will be Hispanic, according to Strategy Research Corp. in Miami.
MasterCard said its member banks have started to take notice and that it is working with some to set up bilingual customer service centers.
"MasterCard really wants to capitalize on the growth of the Hispanic market," said Petra Pasquina, director of Hispanic marketing at MasterCard in Purchase, N.Y. "There's a lot of interest now within the banking community."
The ad campaign is the first using Spanish-language commercials for a credit card brand in the United States, MasterCard said. It said it did extensive research to figure out how best to reach the Hispanic community and found that native-language advertising was most effective.
Advertising to bicultural communities can be tricky. Some experts said many of the Hispanic-Americans who would be profitable bank customers are comfortable speaking English and feel offended by being targeted for Spanish-language solicitations just because of their names, for example.
American Express Co. runs print ads in Hispanic Business magazine, in English. The magazine is written in English with occasional Spanish-language ads. American Express said it can be offensive to assume Hispanic-Americans do not speak English.
MasterCard said its new ad campaign would allow it to target all Hispanic-Americans.
"We believe we reach the English-dominant Hispanics with our current English campaign, so this was a way to get the other folks out there," Ms. Pasquina said. "The broadest way to get out to the Hispanic audience is through television."
The two spots were originally developed by MasterCard's ad agency of record, McCann Erickson, but were customized and chosen by Vidal Partnership, a Hispanic-owned advertising agency in New York.
In the first ad, "fatherhood," a new father struggles to diaper and dress his baby before taking the child outside for a walk. The ad portrays the "priceless" experience of fatherhood. It was originally developed in Latin America but was changed to include scenery and subtle changes in the Spanish spoken in the United States.
The second ad, "recipe," was developed in France but ran in the United States last year in English. It follows a grandmother and granddaughter as they shop for the right ingredients to prepare the grandmother's secret recipe.
Alfred Ramirez, president of the National Community for Latino Leadership Inc., said, "MasterCard's efforts, as indicated by this nationwide advertising buy and its commitment to using Hispanic-owned firms, are important to increase awareness among U.S. Latinos."
"This is the first time we've seen a major credit card brand speak to us in our language and through our television networks," Mr. Ramirez said.