CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS SPOTLIGHT
How Going All-In On Spanish-Language Media Helped One GOP Firm Notch A Big Win
The old adage about every race and every district being unique is especially true with Florida’s 26th House district, which stretches from Key West to suburban Miami. It’s a majority-minority district — 72 percent of residents are Hispanic — with Spanish the language that’s spoken in the majority of homes.
Reaching this diverse group of voters on behalf of Republican candidate Carlos Gimenez fell on media consultants Rob Simms and Mike Shields of Convergence Media. The Virginia-based firm, which also has a production facility in Atlanta, has carved out a niche producing Spanish-language spots.
In fact, their ads weren’t just English-language spots translated into Spanish, but were developed with both languages in mind. In many cases they included the local Spanish dialects that make up the 26th district. “It’s really, really important that you get the talent for those spots to be local,” said Shields. That approach translated into post-production as well. “The editor we had was actually from south Florida,” he said. “It wasn’t just that they spoke Spanish, they were from that region. It’s something that we take really seriously.”
One feature of Gimenez’s media that stands out is that he’s in a face mask the majority of the time — including in the spot where he visits Jimmy Piedrahita, owner of Mojo Donuts, who served as third-party validator. Simms said it wasn’t even a question of whether or not to go maskless — despite polls showing Republican voters aren’t terribly fond of face coverings. As mayor of Miami-Dade County, Gimenez had instituted a public mask order and he subsequently modeled that behavior in his campaign appearances and ads.
“One of the things that was clear throughout the campaign and particularly through our polling is that he had very strong name recognition, very strong job approval,” said Simms. “Then the management of COVID became, obviously, a central [theme] of him being mayor at the same time as trying to run for congress.”
Simms wouldn’t credit their media strategy for winning the battleground district — that goes to the candidate himself, he said. But the firm did have to overcome some major COVID-induced logistical challenges, including not being able to gather B-roll at the start of the campaign and instead having to use a composite of old footage in the first creative: “Like it did for pretty much everyone up and down the ballot, [COVID] pretty much changed everything.”