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Ay Caramba! Spanish ads on U.S. English TV stations

LAKE PARK, Fla. – A South Florida car dealer says he has no plans to stop airing Spanish commercials on English-language TV stations, despite furious complaints from outraged viewers who believe he’s catering to illegal aliens and destroying American culture.

Car dealer Earl Stewart speaks Spanish in ads on English-language TV stations, creating controversy in South Florida

“I’m enjoying this crazy situation because I know I’m right,” says Earl Stewart, owner of Earl Stewart Toyota of North Palm Beach.

Stewart has become a lightning rod of controversy for pitching Toyotas in his basic Spanish, while English subtitles are shown on screen.

The ads are featured not on typical Spanish-language stations, but rather the Big Three network affiliates in Palm Beach County as well as local Comcast Cable channels such as CNN and MSNBC.

The commercial opens with Stewart standing in his showroom as he introduces himself in Spanish.

The English subtitles provide the translation, stating, “I’m Earl Stewart. I’m sorry I don’t speak Spanish, that is the reason I can’t answer the red phone in your language. But many members of our team in all departments do speak Spanish.”

The “red phone” refers to four red telephones at his dealership that provide direct access to Stewart’s personal cell phone, one of the marketing points of his dealership.

“We are a family operated dealership,” the ad continues, “and we all appreciate the importance of the Latin culture and its economic impact in our community.”

Car dealer Earl Stewart speaks Spanish in ads on English-language TV stations, creating controversy in South Florida

The fact that Spanish ads are now being aired on English-language TV has ignited a firestorm.

One WND reader who saw the commercial said, “The whole issue is that this is America and Spanish ads should not be running on English TV stations, period. We are not a bilingual country. Run them on the Spanish stations, no problem. But Spanish ads thrown in with English programming – he’s got [testicular fortitude] and so do the stations that allow them to run.”

Stewart writes a weekly column, where other critics have flayed his campaign with comments including:

Stewart thrashed back at the above “anonymous” post by saying, “Anonymous? A person who criticizes me but is afraid to tell me his name, phone number or e-mail has no credibility. You are either afraid that your opinions won’t stand up to intelligent debate or you have a secret agenda to do me harm … such as a sales manager or salesman for a competing dealership. The KKK Klansman has a good reason for his anonymity … what’s yours?”

Stewart told WND he’s not marketing cars to illegal aliens, but rather U.S. Hispanic citizens who happen to make up a large percentage of residents in the local market.

He thinks critics are misinterpreting the spot as “Spanish commercial equals some guy that wants a bunch of illegal aliens.”

Stewart calls the ad innovation in advertising, as he was looking to get attention.

“Boy, did I ever get their attention!” he said. “Nobody else has ever done this to my knowledge.”

He says cost is also another reason why he’s on the English-language stations, spending just $350 per spot on top-rated NBC affiliate WPTV, compared to $5,000 on the Miami-based Spanish language stations covering all of South Florida.

Stewart claims only one West Palm Beach station, CBS affiliate WPEC, initially offered resistance to running the ad, but backed off after he threatened to publicize its opposition.

“They now totally deny any of this ever happened,” he said.

When the ad was first created earlier this summer, it comprised 100 percent of Stewart’s television campaign. He says it’s now 50 percent and that will drop to 25 percent by next week. But he maintains the Spanish spot “will be a staple in my arsenal. I’ve made a very dramatic impact. My business has been great, one of my best Augusts in terms of sales.”

Stewart says favorable comments are now flooding in, and outpace negative ones by a 10 to 1 margin.

“I have gone to worrying about whether this ad would harm my business to actually wondering if this may not be the most effective advertisement I ever ran,” he writes on his blog.

The ad campaign comes as another South Floridian, Tom McKenna of Stuart, claims he was forced out of his office he rented for seven years because he does not speak Spanish.

As WND reported yesterday, a nearby business has purchased McKenna’s water-conditioning company and is keeping all employees on the payroll.

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