Latinos / Latinx

Latino/Latinx communities are inclusive of an incredibly broad and varied grouping of people. Yet historically, marketing has portrayed these populations of people as a single homogenous group, leading to not only inaccurate representation, but public misconceptions and fallacies surrounding the identities and cultures of these communities.

These U.S.-focused insights were built with input from community partners and offer foundational suggestions to help you create marketing that positively and authentically represents Latino/a/x and Hispanic* people. They are meant to help you understand some of the most important nuances that exist among Latinos, so you can be more inclusive of those who have been historically under- and misrepresented in marketing and media.

Developed in partnership with ADCOLOR and the Hispanic Federation

*We recognize that Latino/a, Latinx, and Hispanic are not terms that all individuals identify with. There’s a vast amount of diversity and nuance among Latinos, who draw lineage from more than thirty countries spanning North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Europe, and have an even greater array of experiences, cultures, languages, dialects, and appearances. For the sake of these insights, the term “Latino” is meant to be inclusive of all Latino and Hispanic consumers living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship, immigration history, or other personal identity.

Use the right identifying language

It’s important to accurately address Latino and Hispanic people. Not all Latinos identify as “Hispanic” and not all Hispanic people identify as “Latino.”


Latino refers to heritage associated with Latin American countries, including those whose primary languages are not Spanish, such as Brazil and Haiti. So someone from Spain is not Latino but may identify as Hispanic. The gendered, singular term “Latino” is commonly used to refer to a man of Latin American descent. However, the gendered, plural term “Latinos” is traditionally used to refer to a group of multiple genders.


Hispanic refers to heritage associated with Spanish-speaking countries. So someone from Brazil is not Hispanic but may identify as Latino. It’s important to know that the term “Hispanic” is considered problematic by some Latinos, given its connection to colonization, underlying exclusion of Latinos with African and Indigenous heritage, and the fact that it’s a widely used term that didn’t originate from the people themselves. From here on, we only use “Hispanic” in these insights to reference factual information where the source uses the term.


The gendered, singular term “Latina” is commonly used to refer to a woman of Latin American descent.

What about “Latinx”?

“Latinx” refers to a pan-ethnic term that is more inclusive of gender identities. Currently, it isn’t commonly used by Latinos in the U.S. and 76% of Latino adults are unfamiliar with the term. It is most commonly used and promoted by younger generations.


While “Latino” is the term most widely used in the U.S., at Google we use both the terms Latinx and Latino. Check with the people you’re addressing or representing to understand which term they most closely identify with.

Represent the diversity of ethnicities among Latinos

The U.S Hispanic population reached almost 60 million in 2018. Latinos draw their heritage from seven regions and over 20 countries, and have vastly varying national, regional, cultural, and personal identities. The the multitude of people who identify as Latino simply cannot be captured or reduced to a singular representation.

Most Latinos living in the United States refer to their family’s country of origin to identify themselves. While “Latino” is the most commonly used pan-ethnic term to describe someone of either Hispanic or Latin American descent, at an individual level, people tend to refer to their specific ethnic heritage (e.g., Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Mexican American, Cuban American, etc).

Those who identify their ethnic heritage as Latino may say the same of their racial identity, but there are also Latinos who identify across the full racial spectrum. Here are some (but not all) important nuances to racial identity for Latinos that are worth noting:

Afro-Latino or Afro-Latinidad

A quarter of those who identify as Latino in the U.S. identify as Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, or Afro (country of origin). Official records of populations with African origins living in Latin America have historically been ignored, so it's only very recently that anyone who identifies as Latino has also been allowed to officially identify as Afro-Latino (e.g., 2015 was the first year that Mexico allowed people to identify as Black or AfroMexican, leading to 1.4 million residents selecting that identifier).


One-third of U.S. Hispanics identify as mixed race. The term “mixed race” has a very specific meaning for Latinos, one that is tied to Latin America’s colonial history and commonly includes having a white and Indigenous, or “mestizo” (Spanish for “mixed”) background somewhere in their heritage. Visit the Indigenous people insights to create work that more authentically represents Indigenous communities.


At the narrative level, self-identification may change by geographic location, where the experience of someone who identifies as Latino in Chicago will be different from the experience of Latinos in LA. When representing the diversity of Latinos, be mindful of a) ethnic origin, b) racial identification, and c) geographic specificity.


The term “Mulatto” – which has been used by official bodies in the past to denote people of mixed white European and Black African ethnicities – has harmful and racist connotations.

Show year-round commitment

It’s important to show commitment to Latinos throughout the year, not just when it’s topical and relevant. Hispanic Heritage Month (celebrated annually from mid-September to mid-October) is the most visible cultural moment in media for Latinos. However, marketing campaigns that show up for just time period can come across as “Hispandering” and as being opportunistic and empty.

Showing meaningful and intersectional representation in creative and product as an ongoing effort outside of Hispanic Heritage Month demonstrates a deeper commitment to the inclusion of Latinos.

If using calendar moments and holidays as a way to be inclusive, it is crucial to understand the cultural and historical context of those moments and to be mindful of the cultural sensitivities and levels of appropriation that happen around these times of the year. Also consider that these moments and holidays are often seen as a visible cultural moment for broader society rather than discrete moments for Latino communities.


Cinco De Mayo carries a specific historical significance that isn’t always broadly understood. Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over Napoleon’s invading French army at the Battle of Puebla, but many Americans mistake it for Mexico’s “Independence Day” (which is actually celebrated on September 16). Be sure to know the historical context as well as the contemporary context of how these holidays are actually celebrated by the communities they matter to.

Dia de los Muertos is not another Halloween. Mexican “Day of the Dead” celebrations honor and respect both children (All Saints’ Day) and adults (All Souls’ Day) who have passed away. Mainstream appropriation of Dia de los Muertos symbols as Halloween costumes, toys, and entertainment has become more evident in recent years. Ensure your marketing isn’t sustaining this appropriation and misrepresenting how this and other moments are celebrated.

Reflect nuance across Latino experiences

Although Latino representation is growing in the TV, film, and media industries, mainstream roles still underrepresent or misrepresent the true diversity of Latinos. There are over 20 countries and seven regions from which those who identify as Latino draw their lineage. Don’t underestimate the diversity of cultures and experiences within this group, and consider how language, expressions, and cultural-specific details vary.

This diversity of experience is expanding and is especially important amongst younger Latinos, who now make up a quarter of the overall Gen Z population in the U.S., the largest share of any ethnic group. Consider how the notion of Latino identity is changing with each generation:

  • Ambi-cultural: 100% Latino, 100% American. Many young Latinos consider themselves both entirely Latino and entirely American. They’re not half and half or stuck between two cultures, but rather fully integrated into both, simultaneously. We must treat them accordingly.
  • Always consider intersectionality. Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American law professor, coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989 in response to the dual oppressions faced by Black women — racism and sexism. Consider how the intersections of age, gender identity, disability, and other identities shape a Latino person’s story. For example, 22% of Latino millennials identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Recognize how household identity is changing amongst younger Latinos. The Hispanic intermarriage rate (marrying someone non-Hispanic) is higher among adults 18-35 (28%) than for adults 36 and older (19%).
  • Consider what matters. For young Latinos, concerns about deportation are real – 49% of Latino millennials worry that a family member, someone they know, or they themselves could be deported – more than any other ethnic group.

Remember to portray nuanced representations of Latino appearances, as well as socioeconomic and immigration experiences. Consider the following when creating narratives that involve Latino identity:

  • Champion an array of skin tones. Latinos with darker skin tones report experiencing more frequent and different kinds of discrimination than Latinos with lighter skin. Recognize and champion the variety of skin tones among Latinos to avoid colorism and cultural erasure.
  • Showcase the breadth of the Latino socioeconomic experience. Characters of Latino descent are often depicted as blue-collar service workers as opposed to white-collar professionals. According to an Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, in a selection of 1,200 popular movies, of the 52% of Latino characters depicted with a job only 4% were high level occupations involving STEM, and only 9 individuals had high level/educated professions. Meanwhile 54% were shown holding an occupation that did not require college education.
  • Understand the diversity of the citizen and immigrant experience. Consider that some people of Latino descent have lived in the U.S. for generations, while others identify as first, second, or third-generation Latinos. In fact, parts of the U.S. were once Mexico, so some communities in those regions were established before the U.S. came to be. Additionally, all Puerto Ricans, including those born in the archipelago, are born as U.S. citizens. It’s also important to understand that the immigrant experience is not homogenous. For example, paths to the U.S. and to citizenship can vary depending on the individual and nationality.


Use real stories wherever possible. Real stories are nuanced, and nuance creates authenticity.

Realize the historical context of negative tropes and stereotypes

Harmful Latino tropes and stereotypes are often reinforced in the media. Being aware of the historical and cultural context is key to learning how to spot and avoid perpetuating stereotypical characteristics and portrayals.


Amongst 1,200 films that were examined by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, just under a quarter of Latino speaking characters were depicted as criminals. The associative images of drug cartels and gang culture with Latino identity remain dominant in popular culture due to the success of TV shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Narcos.” The stereotype of Latinos as criminals is linked to the way in which Latino immigrants are framed within American political discourse as threats: threats to personal safety, economic well being, employment, and the “American way of life.”

Homogenized origins

Stereotypes account for the homogenization of Latino identity, adding to the erasure of the specific cultural identities such as those of Central American, Cuban, Mexican, and Puerto Rican people as a result. The homogenization of “Latinos” as one big group is rooted in the “othering” of Latinos, which classifies them as perpetual foreigners and excludes them from the American narrative.

Latinos as immigrants

The issue of undocumented immigration has remained in the public consciouness thanks to airtime in the political sphere, and Latinos are often viewed through the lens of immigration. As such, they are often portrayed as uneducated and non-English speaking blue collar workers and domestic workers, such as Consuela in “Family Guy.” This misrepresentation overlooks the fact that the majority (67%) of Latinos living in the U.S. are U.S-born, and often consider themselves equally Latino and American.

The hypersexualized “fiery” Latina

Latinos, most specifically women, are often fetishized in popular culture, depicted as hypersexual and hotheaded. This association is generally conceived to be rooted in the exoticization of Mexican land in the 1800s. The country was framed as a wildland, ripe for the picking as a justification for the U.S. invasion of Mexican territory.


Latinos are incredibly diverse, with no two individuals having the same experience, so avoid portraying certain types of individuals or activities as being universal to all Latinos.


Mars’ character in Spike Lee’s Netflix TV series “She’s Gotta Have It” showcases an authentic portrayal of an ambicultural character who identifies clearly as a New Yorker as well as a proud Afro-Latino who embraces his Puerto Rican cultural heritage.

Avoid appropriating Latino culture

From traditional cuisine to fashion accessories and music, elements of Latino culture continually show up in the American mainstream. But all too often, these cultural references are appropriated, without adequate acknowledgement of the people and cultures from which they originate.

While there’s a clear demand for the representation and celebration of Latino heritage and culture in mainstream media, please take the time and effort necessary to do this in a way that champions the people behind these customs and traditions. When portraying fictional storylines, inclusion advocates note that using Latino writers and Latinos in lead roles will help your brand authentically reflect lived experiences, help counteract the lack of self-representation by actors who identify as Latino, and help avoid a widely condemned practice.

When to use monolingual or bilingual approaches

The majority of Latinos in the U.S. are bilingual, but this is shifting generationally, with 35% of 55+ Latinos being Spanish-dominant, and 37% of Latinos 18 and under being English-dominant. Though Spanish use is widespread, most young Latinos feel that one doesn’t need to speak Spanish to be considered Latino, especially since not all Latinos have a Spanish-speaking heritage.

“Spanglish,” which blends the two languages, influences the way some Latinos speak with one another and reference things culturally. Understanding how to accurately represent these bilingual moments, and in which cultural context to use them, is key to depicting an authentic experience. In your marketing, proceed with caution if non-Spanish speakers are using Spanish words or phrases that may have been adopted colloquially in English, but have strong meanings in Spanish.

Our partners recommend hiring agencies, creatives, and production teams that have strong Latino representation. Also remember to respectfully consult with a credible set of colleagues and external partners to ensure your content is culturally relevant and inclusive.


“Los Espookys” is HBO’s first TV comedy to feature mostly Spanish dialogue aimed at a mainstream American audience. The comedy slips into bilingual comedy making jokes work both in Spanish and English, and requires viewers to follow in both languages.

Ensure localization is handled by native speakers

If you choose to create marketing in Spanish or other non-English languages, ensure copy isn’t just directly translated, but is localized by someone in the respective community – or better yet, created by them. Failure to properly localize copy can result in confusing and illogical translations. Spanish speakers can also hail from a variety of heritages with different vocabulary, dialects, or accents. Including these different words, dialects, and accents can contribute to more inclusive work. Additionally, check for alignment between the role, the actor, and the representation of a dialect or accent for more authentic inclusion.


Back translations” are a crucial part of the process. Understanding both the literal translation as well as the interpreted meaning is key to ensuring the most inclusive and resonant wording and terminology is used. This principle extends to other cultural nuances beyond language. For example, ensure that representations of cuisines are in line with an individual’s cultural heritage and are not presented as monolithic.

Partner with credible organizations and advocates 

Marketing that involves Latinos is more authentic when done in partnership with others who have more credibility and reach. No organization is perfect, but many can provide a strong perspective to ensure your content and programs are culturally relevant and inclusive.

Common stereotypes to avoid

Social context


Demonstrate the diversity of Latino ethnic and racial identity (including overlooked groups such as Afro-Latinos, those of mixed heritage and intermarriage groups).

Give focus to the small identifying details (language, differing religious symbolism, customs, food, generational differences, music) that make settings and interactions authentic to ethnic and racial identity.

Show Latinos involved in both “American” traditions and activities as well as ethnically specific traditions and activities.

Show the breadth of work and socioeconomic reality for Latinos and show the common negatives and positives of all work, whether high paying or not.

Portray work settings that are not limited to service and manual labor industries.

Show the real stories, highlights, conflicts, and concerns of Latino life for those who are both U.S.-born and foriegn-born.

Understand and take action when Latino culture is appropriated.

Research immigration stories before you tell them to avoid making assumptions.



Portray a broad range of universal, emotional experiences and be mindful of defaulting to cultural stereotypes (criminality, undocumented migrants, fiery Latina) without exploring how to humanize them first.

Use culturally specific detail to frame those emotions.

Show a range of personality types and strive for authentic and varied experiences.

Show the interplay, harmony, and conflict of family life in all its diversity.

Consider the use of bilingual wordplay and portrayals of Spanglish, and remember that not every Latino character needs to have an accent.

Think about how different generations may react to different social contexts and situations.

Remember the actions and feelings of Latino characters will not necessarily be the same (or different) as those written for a character of another ethnicity or race. Let context and character determine emotional responses, not just ethnicity or race.



Show a variety of skin tones and champion them all. Make sure to avoid suggesting that lighter skin is superior or that Latinos with darker skin tones are more often in service or manual labor roles.

Represent the diversity of appearance of all Latino ethnic origins – across Afro-Latinos, Asian Latinos, Indigenous Latinos, LGBTQ+ Latinos, and white Latinos.

Depict female roles with depth and nuance, avoiding gendered stereotypes (hypersexualized appearances and roles of desire).

Portray cultural detail as appropriate to your character and if it is additive to the narrative (e.g., if a character is religious, it’s fine to portray religious detail that adds to the narrative).

Use caution when including gang-related imagery (e.g., tattoos, kerchiefs, gang colors). Know the implications of this and whether it’s required for the character.