Sept. 15 marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in the US, but for Jefebet, the celebration of Latinos in the country is a year-round affair.
The Spanish-language sports gambling site, which launched earlier this year, pays more than just lip service to serving the more than 62 million Latino people living in the US largely because appealing to that demographic is about so much more than words.
Marketing to Latinos is much more than just language
“It’s not just a language thing,” explained Fifth Street Gaming Digital Chief Strategy Officer Seth Young. Fifth Street’s interest in the Latino community goes beyond Jefebet, and actually started long before the site existed. The gaming management company operates two casinos in the Vegas area that cater specifically to the Spanish-speaking Latino community in the valley area.
Those roots are what drew Young to join the team and bring that experience into the digital realm. What cemented the idea was looking around and realizing that no one else was really thinking about this substantial population.
“You look at the media landscape, there’s Univision, there’s a whole lot of nothing, and now there’s Jefebet. And that was shocking to me.”
Before you jump to the conclusion that Jefebet and Fifth Street are marketing to a population with no lived experience from that population, the FSG Digital arm is overwhelmingly Latino and Young is the rare exception in the organization. The intent of the site is also important, and Young and others at Jefebet put in the time to formulate a thoughtful approach.
“We know that we’re well-intentioned and we talk about having authentic content a lot and catering to this audience rather than pandering to it. It’s a good sound bite, but it’s also true. We wanted to make sure that we were putting out good products, and creating good sustainable communication funnels with this audience that has typically been underserved or ignored.”
Several Spanish dialects in use at Jefebet
Launching a site for this audience is more than just running content through a translater. The same way Latin America is often grouped together as a single market when it encompasses a wide range of countries and cultures, so too the US Spanish-speaking market often gets problematically lumped into a single category.
As Young noted, the range of dialects of Spanish across the country covers a wide range. He cited Florida’s Caribbean lean, Nevada’s tendency towards a Mexican dialect, and the group of Dominicans in New York City. Depending on the audience, the version of the language may necessarily vary.
“We use Argentinian neutral Spanish for some things that cut across all the all the cohorts and it’s generally accepted as what Telemundo. Then, if we’re talking about Liga MX, we’re not writing in Argentinian neutral,” he explained.
These cultural nuances may be why major brands in sports betting and online gambling are not as involved in engaging that community directly. It is also that the industry is still in its infancy and trying to appeal to the broad population, which can often lose non-White populations in cultural translation.
“When you’re marketing or you’re putting out a product, you’re putting it out to the lowest common denominator, which is that white American not and not the Spanish-speaking American. It doesn’t mean that it’s small. It doesn’t mean that Spanish-speaking Americans or those who identify as Latino or Hispanic are not spending money,” said Young. “It just means that they may be engaging differently. And so when you’re marketing towards one cohort, it may not hit the right notes with the other cohort.”
Hispanic Heritage Month about more than just some social posts
As a first-to-market entity, Jefebet has the advantage of not being compared to other organizations by those in the industry. That advantage does not extend to the audience though, which can quickly sniff out the authentic vs the forced.
“We have a full content schedule over Hispanic Heritage Month that highlights different kinds of stories where we want to tell, stories through the lens of sports entertainment and gambling that highlight Hispanic heritage. It’s been pretty thoughtfully planned across all of our channels, which include the web, social, and our podcasts.”
As this month celebrating Hispanic heritage kicks off, Jefebet can hopefully spur others in the industry to think deliberately about how to both celebrate an entire community and recognize and realize how different the groups within that community can be.