Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Somos Muchos' car sticker campaign an interesting social experiment

Outside a local Toyota dealership, March 2007
Outside a local Toyota dealership, March 2007 Photo by wung/Flickr (Creative Commons)

When I first heard about a clever Toyota Latino-marketing sticker campaign last week, with free window stickers distributed to consumers that read "Somos Muchos (fill in the Latin American country or region), Somos Muchos Toyota," (Translation: We are many TK, we are many Toyota), I was no more impressed than I ever am with the usual Latino marketing campaign.

And I'm still not, at least not so much by the campaign itself. But the response on a Facebook page set up by Toyota to distribute the stickers - and "get the community together," as a local Toyota dealership spokeswoman told me today - is what is proving to be most intriguing.

The vast majority of the Facebook wall comments are what the company might have expected: "Soy Ecuatoriano!" one man wrote. And another: "Somos muchos latinos, somos muchos mexicanos!!" Some express gratitude for their stickers (written phonetically in accented English by some as "esticker"), talk about their cars, and cheer for their ancestral homelands, geographic regions and hometowns (i.e. "Somos muchos chilangos...!!!").

But then there are the unexpected comments, posts from people who may like bonding over their Toyotas just fine, but who also seem to wonder how all this getting together might not be put to better use.

A man named Gerardo, photographed in a Dodgers jersey, wrote: "sOMOS MUCHOS LATINOS Y DEBERIAMOS DE UNIRNOS DE ESTA MANERA PARA MEJORAR NUESTR SITUACION EN lOS eSTADOS uNIDOS!!!?" (Translation: We are many Latinos and we should unite this way to improve out situation in the United States!!!)

Another wrote: "Somos muchos Latinos vamos a apoyarnos todos, unidos somos muchos mas!!!" (We are many Latinos and let's support one another, united we are many more!!!")

And another, in all-caps, stream-of-consciousness style, wrote:

"HEY AMIGOS SOMOS MUCHOS LATINOS Y HAY Q UNIRNOS PARA SACAR A UN BATO Q PUSO Q NOS REGRESEMOS ANUESTROS PAISES Q ESTE PAIS ES SOLO DE ELLOS SI NOSOTROS APORTAMOS MUCHO ALA ECONOMIA POR FAVOR REPORTELON Y NO SE LES OLVIDE Q SOMOS MUCHOS LATINOS TOYOTA Y NO IMPORTA DE DONDE SEAMOS ES UN CHAVO Q ESTA DE ESPALDA CON UNA PISTOLA"

(Translation, with some punctuation added: Hey amigos we are many Latinos and we have to unite to get rid of those are said we need to return to our countries, that this country is just theirs when we carry much of the economy, please report them and and don't forget that we are many Latinos Toyota and it doesn't matter where we are from, it's a guy who has his back turned with a pistol.)

I'll confess that the chavo-with-the-pistol part isn't entirely clear to me. In any case, the campaign that Toyota created "to provide Latinos with an outlet to pay homage to an array of regions and countries, while sharing the pride in their cars," according to a PR Newswire release last week, is turning out to be an interesting social experiment.

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