Spurred by Trump's insults, agency wants to show 'truth' about American Latinos

Walton Isaacson spot for immigrants' rights group counters stereotypes with #DumpTrump message

A new pro bono campaign from agency Walton Isaacson subverts the insults aimed at Latino Americans during this year’s election season and ends with a message urging viewers to #DumpTrump.

In the spot for an immigrant advocacy group, Latinos declare their identities as negative stereotypes printed on the front of their t-shirts — killer, dealer, trafficker. When they turn around, the reverse side of the shirt reveals the full sentiment. "I’m a trafficker of stories. I’m a director and I’m Latino."

After Donald Trump defamed Mexicans last year, staffers at Walton Isaacson wanted to create a campaign to counter his commentary. "We started to think, 'We cannot tolerate this behavior,' " said Martin Cerri, group creative director leading the Hispanic market division at Walton Isaacson. "How can we do something to transform this hate message into something positive?"

The agency contacted the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, a nonprofit it had worked with in the past, but since CHIRLA couldn’t participate in a campaign with a political message, the Walton Isaacson teamed up with the organization’s political arm, the CHIRLA Action Fund.

The Fund provided the agency with a brief to create a campaign that would counteract stereotypes about Latinos and "pejorative characterizations," Cerri said. Out of that, the Walton Isaacson team came up with the idea for "flipping the script."

Trump’s name is never spoken in the video, and it only appears as a simple hashtag in the last few seconds, an association that’s intentionally downplayed. "I think this is beyond politics — I think this is a moral issue," Cerri said. "We are not against Trump. We are against the words that he chooses to use and the tone, so we don’t have a political point of view regarding him. It doesn’t matter if it is Trump or Hillary or Bernie Sanders — we don’t want people to put us in a box, and we don’t want people to perceive our culture in those terms."

To reach as wide an audience as possible, the video is in English, with the option for Spanish subtitles.

So far, there’s been little backlash from Trump supporters or anti-immigration forces, but the campaign is only a few days old. "It’s hard to react negatively to the message," Cerri said. "We are telling the truth of millions of people here in America."

The full video and several dozen shorter clips of individual Latinos are part of a social media campaign that culminates at an event on May 1, the 10th anniversary of massive immigration reform protests during the second Bush administration. At the rally, Walton Isaacson will give away multiple versions of the t-shirts in the video. Shirts are also available now on the campaign website.

"People have started to ask for professions and occupations that we don’t have yet," Cerri said. "We’ll say, ‘Do we have an engineer? No? Okay, let’s customize one.’ "

If Trump remains the Republican frontrunner or says something else inflammatory about Latinos, the campaign could continue well past May 1. "This message could be more relevant in the near future," Cerri said. "It’s a Pandora’s box with him, so we don’t know."

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