Super Bowl LIV: Where Latinas (and Diversity) Took Center Stage

This Sunday, more than 100 million people witnessed a historic Super Bowl halftime show: for the first time, two Latinas, Jennifer López and Shakira, headlined the famed Pepsi halftime show with appearances from Puerto Rican Latin trap artist Bad Bunny and Colombian reggaeton artist J Balvin. The bilingual performance was electric, and touted as one of the best in history.

While millions, Latinos and non-Latinos, loved the duo’s act, a small 3.1% of social conversations reflected negative sentiment. Users called out the sensual dance moves and compared the artists to each other, trying to determine who did it best, with one reporter going as far as to claim that López was too famous to share a stage with Shakira.

But, these fans completely missed the mark. The halftime show was a symbol of unity and inclusivity and a true celebration of cultural diversity, and two Latina stars delivered this message in a powerful way, in one of the most multicultural cities in the country.

Here are the performance’s biggest takeaways for brands:

A call for unity resonates.

There is no hiding from political views, no matter how big the stage. More and more, taking a stance on issues is expected. However, erring on the side of unity will supersede negativity. The halftime show delivered on a purpose-driven and unapologetically female performance, championing for the future of Latinos and women in the U.S., with one political statement after another in a direct call for unity – and viewers went wild supporting this call.

The call for unity came to life in several ways including a girls choir performing Gloria Estefan’s “Let’s Get Loud”, a call to action for Latinos to be proud of who they are and what they have to offer, especially in today’s political climate. JLo, draped in a two-sided cape with the U.S. flag on one side and the Puerto Rican flag on the other, singing to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” with her daughter Emme, was an affirmation of Latino’s bicultural pride – the beauty of being American and Hispanic. 

Loss of control may happen when something is taken out of context – but fans will come to your defense.

The superstars paid homage to their roots and represented a tapestry of multiple cultures, races and musical beats. Shakira’s performance included a nod to Afro-Latino rhythms, and Middle Eastern and African dance moves. For a brief moment, she let out a zaghrouta, an Arab exaltation of joy that became an instant viral sensation and caused some initial confusion. Now, thanks to dedicated fans, it’s become a moment of cultural learning as many were given the context behind Shakira’s celebration of her Middle Eastern heritage.

Female (and mom) power comes in different forms.

This performance was a tribute to girls, women and moms the world over. It communicated power, grace and hard work in a way that many loved, and some criticized. It was exciting to see the amount of moms pipe up against the critics. Unapologetically female, strong, and powerful, it showed what women can do, at any age. Celebrating the beauty of female power in all of its forms will continue to resonate. 

Latinx power is here to stay. Brands that celebrate cultural heritage will win.

The U.S. Hispanic population is 60 million people strong and is expected to be the largest ethnic minority group in the U.S. (Pew Research Center, 2019). This group wields $1.7 trillion in spending power and is an integral part of the nation’s identity. The halftime show delivered on celebrating Latin American cultural heritage in an extraordinarily powerful way – from the music, the dance moves, the multiple genres and the duality of being both American and Latin American. The 97% positive/neutral sentiment across all conversations and media coverage attested to the fact that putting a stake in the ground and celebrating this rich cultural heritage works.

The halftime show went beyond music, breaking stereotypes around age, gender and cultural backgrounds – it celebrated female power and how Latinos have made a mark in the U.S. It not only delivered on celebrating Latin American culture, it celebrated what this country’s heritage is all about: diversity. Now that is what we call delivering with purpose.