E-mail Content Marketing

In this article, latBrand demonstrates how a nationwide Department Store misuses cultural elements in the construction of cultural messaging to engage with Norma, a Latina mom, leading the brand not only to sacrifice the leverage point of the ad but develop cultural dissonance throughout the message..
 Visual Encoding
The forefront of the ad uses three primary colors to set the visual-cultural-message, including purple, pink and white for the tagline. As we address the colors as signifiers, the signifying meaning of these colors in the western culture evoke to death and mourning for purple, nurturing and love for pink, purity for white and trust for blue on the outdoor patio furniture respectively.
The juxtaposition of white in the tagline with pink as the background of it creates a notion of loving and nurturing motherhood which is supported by trust. However, the interdependence of these three signifiers is un-stabilized by death signified by the purple color, therefore, sacrificing aesthetic connotation and the facilitation of cultural interpretation from the reader, Norma in this case. 
Linguistic Encoding
The linguistic encoding strategy of this ad includes two languages, Spanish and English. From the Spanish linguistic standpoint, the creative asset uses a tagline, “MAMASTE” whose connotative meaning is controversial depending on the context in which the word is used. “Mamar” is a Spanish transitive verb which means to suckle and it is in the past tense addressing an action conducted by a second person, “you.” The past tense of the verb is asking Norma if she sucked it. As Norma is not a baby, the connotative meaning of the verb tense symbolically evokes to oral sex in the Latin American and U.S. Latino culture.
The symbolic signification of “MAMASTE” precludes the reader from connecting the benefits of the product, relaxation as stated in English “it’s time to relax” with Mom’s personal values, presumably “inner peace.” As a result, the misusage of the signifier “MAMASTE” has implications at two levels, first, the tagline becomes offensive to the target audience and secondly, it neutralizes the brand’s message by taking Norma, Latina mom and reader, away from the key point in the message, the product, an outdoor furniture set.
From the English language perspective, the e-mail is personalized to Norma, however, the pluralization of the target audience in “Moms around the country” alienates the signification of personalization in the message to Norma, turning the signifier (Norma) into a subject of the masses. In other words, the message is now impersonal.
The signifier “clear their head,” looses its signification in the mindset of the target audience for two reasons, a) it does not point out to an activity in specific in which Norma can see herself to connect her values with the benefits and/or attributes of the product and b) it does not have any connotative meaning with the target audience’s past cultural experience to build in the mind of such (Norma) a sense of relaxation.
The absence of elements with connotative meaning within the Latin American culture jeopardizes product and audience connectivity. These socio-cultural elements are emotional connectors that would have built an emotional bond with Norma and lead her to connect them with the product’s  benefit, relaxation.
Furthermore, the cultural disconnection between the target audience and the message is exacerbated by the absence of the persona in the ad, Latina mom and/or Norma.
The ad used two signifiers in contradiction with each other, Norma and Moms breaking away from the intended personalization of the message. The pluralization of “Moms” in the text message negates the initial persuasive affective approach to connect with Norma on a one-to-one basis to elicit an emotional reaction from Norma and connect it to the selling point of the ad, “relaxation.”
An outdoor furniture set is at the forefront of the ad signifying relaxation, however, such signification and/or benefit is not connected to the personal cultural values of Norma as they are not defined in the text. Therefore, as mentioned above, the message is unable to connect Norma’s personal values with the benefits of the outdoor furniture set, thus compromising the leverage point of the ad as a whole.
Cultural Appeal
The creative asset precludes Norma from building emotional associations with the product and brand respectively as the message overall, including written and visual signifiers antagonize each other. MAMASTE’s signification juxtaposed with color connotation and interlaced with the duality of the target audience, Norma and Moms leads to message ineffectiveness as cultural interpretation from the target audience is compromised due to the noise  created within the creative asset itself.
On one hand, “MAMASTE” by the Department Store is an unfortunate example of cultural-message-dissonance in which the message strategy is compromised by misusing cultural meanings invoking to the wrong connotation and signification of the message. As a result, the brand put at risk the formation of an intention for product purchase in the mind of Norma and possibly Latina moms overall.
On the other hand, “MAMASTE” can be used as an example for misunderstanding what culture is and how it should be embraced to create cultural message-personalization.
A cultural message is the sum of all, linguistics and aesthetics coding and how it facilitates cultural interpretation from a desired audience at the micro and macro Latino segment level. And this example transcend into every cultural segment regardless of background and language.
Claudio Perez-Korinko, cultural creative strategist at latBrand.