Marketing To Latinos: A Guide to the In-Culture Approach, Part 2
Part 2 Case Studies | Part 1 Case Studies
Initiative: Integrated Hispanic Strategy


AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people 50 and over, providing information, resources and offering a wide range of unique benefits.

After reaching 40 percent penetration among all U.S. adults aged 50 and over, AARP's challenge focused on relating the AARP brand to the aging boomer segment. Upon further analysis, it was determined that in order for AARP to continue delivering its mission of enriching the lives of Americans aged 50 and older, it was crucial for the organization to fully understand and meet the needs of all underdeveloped segments beginning with a focus on Hispanics in that age group.

Situation Assessment

A national quantitative study designed by Isabel Valdés, with AARP Knowledge Management, and the Cultural Access Group, was conducted to help AARP:

  • target groups according to acculturation,
  • identify opportunities for Hispanic membership recruitment and retention,
  • analyze AARP's mission, advocacy, information, products/services, and determine their relevance to the U.S. 50+ Hispanic market,
  • identify US Hispanics 50+ market needs and interest and determine language and information delivery channels and media usage.
Integrating the Hispanic Strategy

While Hispanics make up about 7 percent of all U.S. adults over age 50, the refined analysis by Geoscape International indicated that AARP already had about 500,000 Hispanic members, or 12% of Hispanics 50+. Thus, it was determined that in order to achieve significant progress in its mission, the Hispanic Membership Development (HMD) initiative would seek to add 370,000 new members by 2006 while increasing awareness levels.

Complementing the AARP Project Management Team (PMT), Santiago & Valdes Solutions (SVS) dedicated a seasoned expert and project manager to work day-to-day on the initiative. Based on the research, the PMT approached functional areas and helped them to:

  • understand cultural preferences
  • assess current readiness to meet the HMD objective,
  • identify critical success factors,
  • prioritize gap closure areas,
  • develop functional units business plans,
  • counsel the units and orchestrate cross functional integration, and integrate their areas with external, member-facing portion, of the Hispanic initiative, focusing on marketing planning.

A national advertising agency selection process led to the selection of HeadQuarters Advertising (San Francisco) based on the strength of their vision for the brand, their ability to understand the challenge, and their recommended communications strategy.

Market Selection Criteria

Four criteria elements were defined in relation with the membership and acquisition goals of AARP:

  • A Spanish-dominant Hispanic population had to be well represented in each market.
  • The target demo of Hispanic adults ages 45-64 had to be a significant portion of the population both in absolute and percentage terms.
  • A strong BROADCAST market, and at the same time affordable.
  • Opportunity for AARP to quickly increase membership.

Based on the set requirements with market characteristics and brand dynamics, New York and Miami represented the most viable opportunity markets for AARP to increase its membership among Hispanics during the launch effort.


In terms of our knowledge of the Hispanic 50+ target, it is also important to acknowledge the particularly strong phenomenon of their lack of planning ahead and the preference to avoid facing certain things in life. The effort, to be successful, had to be synergistic with all other marketing, public relations and grass-roots efforts. There was no single selling point to communicate. AARP's new target required education, introduction and establishment of a brand and awareness in a very short period of time. The target was culturally diverse, with barriers like language, level of education, and overall distrust.

Communication Objective

To introduce and generate awareness of AARP, but also entice target audience to call for more information and join IN, increasing the Hispanic membership base.

Target Audience

  • Spanish dominant/preferred Hispanic adults 45-64
  • Annual HH income $25,000+

Perceptions of Target Audience

  • Initially, neither younger (45-55) nor older (55-64) groups of seniors identified with AARP, seen as "not for me" or "for the old".
  • Some had received mailings but discarded them, perhaps due to lack of awareness about the organization, as well as lack of understanding of the services and benefits.
  • "Non-acculturated" individuals have very little awareness of AARP.
  • The "stigma of old age":
  • "I don't like to be reminded that I'm not that young anymore" therefore,… "AARP is not for me"
  • Culturally, planning ahead is not a common practice among Hispanics.

Creative Rationale for the Campaign

The campaign had to address the target in a positive way towards this new phase of life, even making it desirable, showing its advantages, as a second chance of living their lives TO THE FULLEST.

The target must feel identified with the people showed in AARP's Hispanic advertising, enjoying their second youth, reaching the freedom attained by having now independent mature children who no longer depend on them as much, allowing them to think of themselves, invite them to dream of doing all the things they couldn't in their youth due to lack of time and the responsibilities of those years. That is why AARP was presented as a second chance in life, but with the benefits of the wisdom and maturity acquired along the way.

Therefore, the campaign informed the Hispanic 50+ target that to enjoy their second youth, there is an organization which helps them get the most out of life. For this, the agency proposed to base the image and brand communication of the campaign on a famous, well known poem called "Instantes" (Instants), popularly attributed to Argentinean writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges by mistake.

The words, in some instances, were rewritten to fit the messages particular needs, but maintained the concept:

    If I could live my life again I wouldn't try to be perfect.

    I wouldn't take too many things so seriously. I would take more risks.

    I would travel more. I would be thankful for each sunrise…

    … and I would admire each and every sunset. I would climb more mountains…

    … to see what's on the other side. I would swim in more rivers.

    I would go places I've never been before.

    I would eat more sweets.

    I would take more care of real problems and less about imaginary ones..

    I would always remember that life is made of moments.

    I would fall in love more often…

    … I would visit my loved ones more often.

    I would take more rides on the carrousel at the fair…

The Tagline

Created in Spanish first, the tagline provided a faithful representation of a concept which AARP could own with time:
"La segunda juventud es mejor que la primera" (The second youth is better than the first)

Communications Architecture

Phase 1: Brand Advertising/Awareness Building. During this phase, the message was intended to create an affectionate link between the prospect and AARP using visuals and words that will touch the prospect's emotional fibers. HeadQuarters also attempted to quickly build AARP's brand personality making it recognizable and approachable, leveraging overall membership services and benefits, and maintaining brand message saliency at sustaining levels throughout the campaign effort.

Phase 2: Direct Response/Membership Promotion. The creative message would be reinforced with concrete benefits information. Also, target high opportunity segments through selected membership attributes/benefits messaging (DRTV, direct mail).

  • operationally track results and adjust messaging and channels as appropriate and necessary.
  • generate brand ubiquity through targeted communications and promotional opportunities (events, associations, media driven activities).


An events strategy (national and local) was launched with the top four Hispanic states: California, Texas, New York, and Florida. In California, for example, Fiesta Broadway was selected as the primary event to build brand awareness, volunteer recruitment, test member recruitment, and to strengthen relationships with other Hispanic community organizations. A parallel promotions strategy to Fiesta Broadway's sponsorship was developed to maximize AARP's investment by targeting the 50+ segment within the event's Hispanic attendance with messaging and incentives to draw them to AARP's Supersite. The promotion incorporated radio two weeks before the event, signage and live reads at the AARP main stage and Scratch and Win Game Cards distributed throughout the Fiesta Broadway crowd to create excitement and draw the target to the Supersite and extend the length of time that potential new members would be exposed to the brand, thus providing the opportunity for a stronger familiarity with the AARP brand and the benefits it offers.

Other grassroots programs in the initiative included a field strategy which helped states get ready for delivering bilingual programs. In depth plans were developed for each state focusing on community service advocacy, relationship building and included volunteer recruitment/ training & development events.

A New Magazine

The long array of AARP member benefits make up strong relationship, retention and loyalty purposes for the organization. The most tangible, frequent, and widest reach benefits are AARP award winning sibling publications, My Generation, Modern Maturity, and AARP Bulletin which are perceived by General Market members as one of the organization's most important benefit. Therefore, it was essential for the Integrated Hispanic Initiative to extend AARP's mission of serving the needs and interests of all Americans over 50 through information, education, advocacy in an in-culture, deeply relevant print vehicle to serve the particular needs and interests of the 50+ Latino community. In a record 12 weeks timeframe from concept to distribution, AARP Publications unit created Segunda Juventud, the new sibling to its family of magazines that has become the most influential, highest quality publication making a significant difference to mature Hispanics.

With an initial distribution to 250,000 Latino member households in target states, AARP Segunda Juventud became the largest Hispanic magazine launch ever. The publication currently reaches more than 350,000 50+ Latino member households and an estimated total audience of 1.5 million readers each quarter. AARP Segunda Juventud combines the award winning high quality journalism of La Opinion, the largest Spanish daily and the fastest growing newspaper in the U.S., and the broad resources and impeccable reputation of AARP. It delivers AARP Latino members the promise of great resources and strength, assisting them in making smart choices to reach their goals and dreams, making the most out of their "Second Youth." Like AARP's broadcast branding efforts, the magazine presents the maturing stage of life in a positive, desirable light.

In addition, AARP Segunda Juventud provides an effective channel to directly reach the Latino segment over 50 in a powerful marketing vehicle which has the AARP trusted brand behind every service provider and general advertisements. AARP Segunda Juventud covers news, healthy living, medical breakthroughs, arts & entertainment, sports, culture, human interests, life & style, calendars with local AARP events, self improvement, re-training and continuing education options, personal finance, resources, inter-generational family stories, grandparenting tips, best travel destinations, civics and policy issues in a unique uplifting, warm, and celebratory manner. In this way, AARP Segunda Juventud has become the central platform of AARP's integrated strategy to add value and establish warm relationships between the Latino AARP member and interested service providers. To no surprise to anyone, Latino AARP members reaction to Segunda Juventud has been exceptional.

An online strategic component could not be missed. The first phase, leveraging the magazine, was to create its corresponding presence in the internet,, to keep members and potential members informed about the latest developments on a monthly basis. Its content supports the general information of the magazine but also serves as a public relations tool to keep on solidifying AARP's commitment with the community. Areas like entertainment, food, and people's profiles skew more towards Hispanic specific relevance.

The Results

  • For the first twelve months since the campaign was launched, the direct response effort generated over 33,000 inquiries resulting in nearly 20,000 new members.
  • Furthermore, a thorough analysis of the database after the first six months since the launch indicated that there were approximately 38,000 new Hispanic members.
  • Through constant monitoring, training and development, the enrollment call center quality assurance increased from 74% initially to 97% at the end.
  • In the first 4 months since launching the image and DRTV efforts, awareness of AARP among Hispanics in NY and Miami increased substantially by 50% and 70% respectively.
  • These results are very promising and in the normal take off curve of any services in any industry.

Agency: Santiago & Valdés Solutions