Telenovelas: Techonology and Politics Meets Hot Latinas

Poster for Baila Conmigo one of my favorite telenovelas growing up.
Poster for "Baila Conmigo" one of my favorite telenovelas growing up.

Most of America (or at least those who have taken Spanish) has heard of Telenovelas. They are best described as prime time Spanish-language soap operas. They are filled of stories of love, betrayal and power and have become an integral part of Latin American culture.

Recently telenovelas have been at the center of both politics and technology. Spanish-language stations are trying to keep up with a highly digital U.S. Hispanic market where more people are watching television shows on the Internet.

In 2008 campaigns including Obama for President effectively used the familiar format to spread their message. Now others are wondering how to copy them to attract the growing Latino electorate. Republican must learn how to harness these types of ideas / technology in order to get a more conservative message into U.S. Hispanic households. (See videos below)

A fight has been brewing between Univison, the largest Spanish-language station in the U.S., and Televisa, the largest provider of telenovelas (based in Mexico), on who gets to distribute the popular television Spanish-language shows on-line. Millions in digital ad revenues are at stake. According to a post in HispanicTrending Univision wants Televisa to keep its telenovelas off the Web .

The most interesting aspect of the corporate fight, from a political perspective, is reading the statistics of Hispanics on-line.

Televisa’s programs have attracted a large following on the Internet. Pirated episodes of Televisa’s telenovelas are among the most-viewed TV shows posted on YouTube, according to recent research by the on-line videoanalytics firm TubeMogul Inc.

Last week there were 57,200 videos on YouTube from shows that air on Univision, and those clips had attracted more than 613 million views, according to TubeMogul.

The two media companies continue to fight over their 1992 agreement on the ability to broadcast material on the Internet. Televisa already provides online content in Mexico but blocks the same content in the U.S. Univision is trying to keep up with demand and is producing their own “web novelas” with corporate sponsors like McDonalds to fill the need for professional produced shows on the Internet.

These companies see the potential of reaching U.S. Latinos, who as many as 69% go online, and are a vibrant part of internet culture.

Anyone who has seen statistics on Hispanics on-line use, combined with the growing influence of the Latino electorate is foolish if they are not thinking of creative ways to attract this audience. I’m not advocating everyone to go make a telenovela, but thinking on how to use this information in a positive and effective manner is important.

The Obama campaign and Hispanic get out the vote groups like Voto Latino produced their own version of telenovlas during the 2008 campaign. Some funny, some more serious, but all in a familiar format most Hispanics could connect with.

These groups provide another example on how future campaigns and candidates can use new media to promote a tailored message to Hispanic Americans. They were able to attract unlikely voters to take a vested interest in their cause by using proven models in a new and interesting way. These groups tailored how they communicated without changing the content of their message. They used basic communication techniques and added cultural references to attract Hispanics, such as the telenovela format, bilingual messages, Hispanic faces, Latino music and Latinos celebrities.

Here is a video from Voto Latino, who is led by actress Rosario Dawson. Voto Latino in general has been very successful in using new media and social on-line networks for their cause.

Here is a video from the Obama camp. Not the greatest video, but you get the idea: a Latino friendly delivery of the message. (clearly some of my Republican friends are not going to identify with the politics.)

Throughout this blog I will highlight examples on what Republicans can do to reach out and include more Hispanics. Here is one: Use YouTube. Think of interesting content in a format friendly to the Latino community.

Do a quick YouTube search on Hispanic Republican, one of the first videos that still pops up is the Hispanic focused video Bush did for the 2004! (keeping comments to myself right now.)

If you have a good video aimed at Hispanic Republicans or attracting more Latinos to the conservative movement, send it my way and I will promote it.

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