Photo: What Makes J Lo Mobile Phones So Latino?
Have you heard Jennifer Lopez is trying to sell you something again – no it’s not another pair of tiger print stretch pants THANK GOD - it’s mobile phones in partnership with Verizon.
When Lopez announced last week that Viva Movil will cater exclusively to Latinos, I paused and mentally deliberated what that actually means. Do the phones automatically chime “La Cucaracha” when they ring, have apps on how to cook carnitas, and free calling plans to Latin America??
Or would that make the pandering look too obvious?
Verizon is an interesting partner choice for Jennifer Lopez much like her current beau Casper Smart. Maybe she was too busy trying to get back on American Idol to notice that Verizon has continuously fought against regulations that advocate for open Internet access for all which negatively impacts the poorest populations. Maybe she didn’t notice that Verizon plans are one of the most expensive on the market – no value there for Latinos. Is she aware there is a petition with over 87,000 Verizon wireless customers urging them to kill contracts for wireless service?
Viva Movil promises to “revolutionize the wireless shopping experience for Latino consumers,” and will be opening retail stores and an eCommerce site so Hispanics can feel at home and have a “unique shopping experience.”
What are they saying? Does this mean all the other Verizon retail centers have become “For Whites Only” and I’m no longer invited? On the site, except for the Spanish-language option and Lopez’ Latina mug all over the website, I don’t especially feel I am immersed in Latino-ness.
And do I really need to be ethnically catered to, to buy a cellphone?
And why are the Viva Movil phone plans similar to those of Verizon – i.e. pricey? Didn’t they do their homework, Latinos are prolific discount shoppers almost as much as Lopez is a prolific self-promoter.
When pressed for specifics Lopez defined “catering to Latinos” as: having bi-lingual staff at all Viva Movil stores (who cares so does my local Chinese take-out), play area for children since Latinos shop together as a family (not when you are making a 10-minute purchase decision) and specially designed J Lo mobile products (the yet to be priced Ostrich and snake-skin phone cases don’t appear to be very Latino but more Crocodile Dundee).
Here’s what would be revolutionary and unique: mobile calls that don’t get dropped, well-priced, well-serviced flexible plans without hidden fees and contract free phone purchases. And if Latinos get that they like any other consumer won’t care if you are talking to them in Swahili and have a retailing experience equavilent to buying a set of tires out of Tio Juan’s trunk.
If we listen to J Lo every time she tries to sell us something we would be dressed in a quick to stretch Kohl’s dress, broke from buying her luxury limited-edition T-shirt by J Lo’s Teeology, doused with Glow by J. Lo , shaving our legs with Venus razors, decorating our casitas with the Jennifer Lopez Collection at Kohl’s, all while driving a Chevy Fiat Cabrio and not having much left in the bank to afford a cell phone.
J Lo needs to stop abusing, or at the very least, stop over-using her role as one of the most influential Hispanic entertainers to sell anything, even when there is no value added, to the Latino consumer.