Every year when Cinco de Mayo rolls around, businesses across the nation publish tongue-in-cheek social media posts that include sombreros, ponchos, tacos, and donkeys. They intend to celebrate US/Mexican culture in a fun and silly way, but that is not always how it comes off. These types of celebratory posts highlight harmful stereotypes about their culture or don’t go far enough to speak to Mexican culture’s breadth and beauty to many Mexican Americans. The posts are meant to be fun but come off as offensive and alienate the exact ethnic group the company is trying to reach.
Right now (November 1-3) Mexicans and Mexican/Americans are celebrating Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Many people misunderstand this as “Mexican Halloween”, which could not be farther from the truth. The face painting and colorful decorations are meant to celebrate and welcome home deceased loved ones. It is not macabre, scary, or in any way related to trick-or-treating, so any blogs or social media posts that suggest that it is will immediately appear culturally insensitive to anyone in the Mexican community. Incidentally, if you are looking for a fun education on the meaning behind the holiday, check out Disney’s animated movie Coco from 2017.
The next time your law firm is considering drafting a blog or social media post about an international holiday, consider these things:
Multicultural marketing is not easy, and it requires a deep understanding and respect for every culture you are trying to reach. The next time you plan to speak on an international holiday, think twice about whether or not you are helping or hurting.