Clients seeking to produce an audio/video project in Spanish will usually explain what kind of Spanish they want for their project.
As a bilingual voice talent, I’ve noticed that there are more and more requests for generic Spanish that is accepted cross-culturally. That is North American Spanish.
The Hispanic culture within the United States and Canada has so developed that we are now three and four generations deep with many families.
That blending into the North American culture is producing an adapted language; a language that is accepted and understood by all generations.
What that means for advertisers and audio producers is that the idea of using culture -specific voice talent is no longer particularly useful.
For instance, it used to be that if you wanted to reach the Hispanic population in:
- New York, you chose a Puerto Rican voice talent;
- Florida, you chose a Cuban voice talent;
- California and Texas, you chose a Mexican voice talent.
However, a few years ago we started hearing some outstanding voice talents from various other Spanish countries, and the norm began to change. The shift was on for a cross-cultural language.
Now the demand is for undetectable regional influence.
A few years ago clients would say, "It doesn’t sound Mexican enough,” or "She doesn’t really sound like a Puerto Rican,” when they reviewed voice talent demos.
Now you’ll hear comments like, "She sounds too Colombian,” or "He’s too Mexican.”
PERFECT FOR NORTH AMERICA
Almost every native Spanish voice talent boasts that their Spanish is the most generic, but the truth is that real generic Spanish is simply unaccented, non-regional, and cross-culturally effective.
That is exactly what North American Spanish is. You wouldn’t necessarily want to use it in another country, but you could.
However, here in North America, it’s perfect.
REFOCUS YOUR MARKETING
For Spanish voice talents, this all means that we need to refocus our marketing strategies to capitalize on our significant strengths.
It’s no longer enough to say you are a native Spanish speaker.
Now clients want to know if your Spanish will work for the broad culture they are targeting.
If you are a native Spanish speaker living and working within the United States, you’re going to have an easier time marketing yourself to U.S. clients, especially if you’ve been here for many years, and have adapted to the generational cross culture.
AN EXCEPTION ...
Is there a time when a company would want to use regional specific Spanish? Of course.
If they are seeking to reach first generation Spanish speakers, it would be appropriate to use a native speaker from their region.
As a voice talent, if you have not adapted to the new American Spanish, target your marketing to your language strength.
WANT AUTHENTIC SPANISH
Companies producing Spanish projects for North America are also becoming more cautious about using a non-native speaker.
Spanish audiences can detect a Spanish-As-A-Second-Language speaker in a heartbeat.
So, even if your Spanish use is strong, if it isn’t native, you should probably consider other ways to use your language skills such as producing, translations, or copy writing.
ABOUT DAN ...
Dan (Daniel Eduardo) Hurst is an experienced bilingual (English and Spanish) voice talent operating out of the Kansas City area. His business now extends internationally, with clients including Sprint, Hallmark, Walmart, Ford, T39 Telemundo and the Kansas City Royals.