Wishing you a happy May 5th, otherwise known as Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Though Mexico won the battle, it did not win the war.
So, it is odd that this relatively minor Mexican holiday is celebrated by Americans with tequila shots. This evolution into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations, began in the mid-20th-century.
Critics observed that enthusiasm for the holiday did not take off with a broader demographic until it was explicitly linked with the promotion of Mexican alcoholic beverages. Many U.S. festivities tend to both perpetuate negative stereotypes of Mexicans and promote excessive drinking. It is one of America’s top 5 drinking days of the year.
As brands have looked to commercialize the moment, it’s led to often offensive costumes and caricatures of Mexican culture and people acting foolish in the name of “Mexican culture.” Not to mention, you’ll probably see many people wearing sombreros, fake mustaches, and ponchos, which is undeniably prejudiced and appropriative.
But the times are changing, and change is goo. This isn’t about being “woke,” this is about the evolution of our country and operating at a higher level of consciousness. It’s an opportunity to do things differently. I challenge brand marketers to look to celebrate Mexican culture in America in fresh ways.
The Latinx community, in many ways, will decide America’s future. Not only is it driving politics and culture, but it is massively moving the needle in music. Latin music listening was up nearly 16% last year with Bad Bunny leading the trend. In 2020, he streamed more than 8.3bn times on Spotify alone. According to Rolling Stone, “revenues for the genre in 2019 reached a new high of $554 million – roughly one-third, or 28% more than the previous year. It is the highest figure the market has seen since 2006.” This growth is expected to continue, with artists like Jhay Cortez, Maluma, and J Balvin exploding in popularity.
At Nue, we are working with several major brands and content platforms who are committed to engaging the Latinx audience in authentic ways and utilizing music as a core component in their marketing strategies. By seeking counsel and guidance from key cultural leaders and influencers from this community, we can co-create respectful, credible, and reflective programming and messaging.
I’m all for celebrating Mexican culture. Let’s do it responsibly.
Also published on Medium.