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En Español: Dubbing Jeopardy?

1 Dec, 2012 By: Denira Borrero Response

What works — and what doesn’t — for Hispanic DRTV production.


For sure, the simplest, fastest and cheapest way to test a U.S. Hispanic campaign is to dub your existing general market show or spot. Many marketers rationalize that they will only invest in the expense of an original production if the dub shows promise. The problem with this strategy is that — in the majority of cases — dubbing a creative means that the media test is dead on arrival.

Even so, there are many other reasons why a campaign can be either a bomb or a tremendous success regardless of a shortcoming in creative approach. Perhaps because of product uniqueness, category strength or an exceptionally compelling offer, the occasional dubbed campaign has shown great results over time. We also know that a “hybrid production” approach, where certain scenes are reproduced with Spanish speaking talent but most other creative elements are maintained, can be very cost-effective option compared to original production.

To understand actual performance data on how dubs performed over time compared to hybrid or original productions by category and format, we looked at our own data of nearly 60 short- and long-form DRTV campaigns during a three-year period (2010-2012). We defined “dubbed” as those spots that have a Spanish speaking voice recorded and lip synced over English speaking, on-screen talent. Voiceover (VO) only spots were separated out of the dubbed category as they seem to perform differently than dubs that need lip syncing.

Here are some of the results:

  • Original production works better — hands down. With either an original or hybrid production, a campaign is almost twice as likely to roll out past a four-week media test and at least four times as likely to roll out past six months when compared to a dub. Moreover, when isolating original production, the results were even more drastic with a seven-times increased likelihood of rolling out a profitable campaign past six months versus a dub.
  • VO-only short-form performs better than more obvious dubs. Perhaps because the distracting lip-syncing on a dub is avoided in this case (which may be the biggest turn-off to the viewer), VO-only short-form performed the best among dubbed productions. We noted that VO-only spots had a 1.5 times higher likelihood of meeting performance goals than an obviously dubbed or lip-synced creative. The fitness and housewares categories have noticeable success with these formats.
  • Long-form shows demonstrate a powerful case for original production. When isolating long-form shows, 14 percent of dubs versus 85 percent of original productions rolled out past a six month media run.
  • Hybrid productions deliver the most value. Considering the cost efficiencies gained from hybrid productions against completely original productions (and the much higher performance results compared to dubs), hybrids seem to be the best value approach for U.S. Hispanic productions. A key aspect of hybrids is that the look-and-feel is maintained across English and Spanish creative, which benefits branding, frequency and recall objectives — particularly important for retail support campaigns. ■

About the Author: Denira Borrero


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