Monday, September 03, 2007

Earl Stewart's Response to Typical Critics of Spanish Ad

Dear E and M,

Thanks very much for voicing your opinion. Because your remarks are so typical of those who object to my Spanish-speaking TV commercial, I have taken the liberty of posting this email on my Blog, You might enjoy reading some of the postings.

E's & M's comments in blue italic:

We are offended by your Spanish TV commercial and believe the way you went about it is anti-American.We want to respond to some of your posted explanations for showing the commercial on ENGLISH TV:

I am truly sorry that I offended you. It was not my intent and I, too, believe strongly in what I have done and don’t believe I’m wrong…just as strongly as you take the opposite view.

You say you are not targeting Spanish speaking people, why he Spanish commercials then?If virtually all Hispanics living here in Palm Beach Co. are bilingual and fluent in both Spanish and ENGLISH, why the Spanish commercial?

There are four reasons why I chose to speak Spanish in my commercials on English speaking TV:

(1) The market research I did showed that most Hispanics living in Palm Beach County watch English speaking TV channels almost exclusively. This is because there are very few Spanish channels…only 6 in total in all of South Florida and they all originate from Miami. The programming on these channels is far inferior in quality and diversity to the dozens of English speaking channels. Bilingual Hispanic American citizens, just like you and I, prefer to watch better quality and more variety on their TV.
(2) Anyone who has traveled abroad will tell you that it is considered a sign of respect to address bilingual citizens of other countries (virtually all citizens of other countries are at least bilingual and most speak English) in their native tongue. Those Americans who travel abroad and “expect” everybody to be able to speak English is one of the reasons for the phrase “Ugly American”. By learning a few phrases in the language of the country you are visiting and attempting to speak it is a courtesy and a sign of respect.
(3) By speaking Spanish in my commercial, I was able to “cut the clutter” of the too large number of commercials that most people (including me) ignore. I mute out most commercials or change channels. I wanted to get peoples attention which is the primary goal of any advertiser.
(4) Ads on Spanish channels are much more expensive than ads on Palm Beach County channels because they all originate from Miami and cover a much large audience in all of South Florida. A 30 second commercial on a local PB County channel is about $350 compared to about $5,000 for a Spanish channel. I’m wasting my money by advertising to all of the Hispanics in Dade and Broward…especially when my market research has told me that most are watching English channels anyhow.

Hell yea, the commercial get's the attention of the illegal Hispanic's attention. You are speaking the language they want to ALWAYS speak.Funny how you may not have gotten their (Hispanic's) attention if you spoke ENGLISH, when you say most are fluent in ENGLISH?Also, why is there a vast audience on Spanish channels when you say most are fluent in ENGLISH - again because they don't want to speak the language of the USA - ENGLISH!!

I am not trying to advertise to illegal aliens if or no other reason than they can’t buy new Toyotas. They don’t even have driver’s licensees and they can’t afford to buy a new car. Illegal aliens comprise only a small fraction of the Palm Beach County Hispanic community.

Yes, America is the land of free enterprise and capitalism, but America is much more than that.As part of our identity, Border - Language - Culture, we feel you are helping to destroy it. Do you realize how important it is being united by one common language? We are not talking about what you speak or sing in church, your home, another country, but here, the USA as a united country?

Do you think we should pass a law making it illegal to speak another language except English except in church or another country? We are united in America by a lot of things, including our common language. Far more important than a common language is our freedom and freedom means our right to express ourselves freely without fear of oppression. If a free American citizen wishes to speak German, Italian, or Japanese to another person who welcomes this, she should be allowed to express herself in this manner even if you don’t like to listen to it.

You say in one of your post that there are very few illegal aliens (there not illegal immigrants, as immigrants are legal) and they can't buy cars - WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING????

What kind of a trite response is, “WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING????” Quit being cute and try to deal with the facts. In South Florida there are nearly two million American citizens of Hispanic descent, aka legal immigrants. These are the folks I’m advertising to. In South Florida, the best estimate of the number of Hispanics who entered illegally is less than 100,000. These illegal immigrants have very low paying jobs, no driver’s licenses, cannot obtain credit, and CANNOT BUY A CAR.

If you respect people by speaking in their native tongue, which should be insulting to those that have accepted America as their new identity, why did you disrespect us American's by showing the commercial on ENGLISH TV????? You can put your tongue on THIS!

First let me say that your vulgar references do not enhance the credibility of your argument. If you feel I have shown you a lack of respect by speaking Spanish in a 30 second TV commercial, I suggest that you look into your heart for the answer as to why you feel that the Spanish language is offensive to you.

You should thank about moving your business to where the national language is Spanish, as we want miss you, your business, or your commercial.There are always traitors to this country, and you always will be Earl.

My business is thriving. Last month I sold 477 cars, one of the best months in my 32 years as a Toyota dealer. My sales to Hispanics and non Hispanics has increased considerably since I began running my Spanish speaking TV ad. There is no reason for me to move the location of my dealership. In fact, I have just embarked on a major expansion…more than doubling my present size.

Once again, I won’t dignify your name calling with a reply, but I will say again that it does not enhance your credibility to our readers


  1. Please stop beating a dead horse. Some people were offended some weren't. Either way go on to the next subject already. Maybe post a blanket statement and move forward

  2. To Anonymous. In fact, "a blanket statement" was the very reason for Earl making this post. Start at the beginning of the post ("Because your remarks are so typical ...") for the hint of this.

    To Earl. Excellent response. My favorite passage was: "First let me say that your vulgar references do not enhance the credibility of your argument. If you feel I have shown you a lack of respect by speaking Spanish in a 30 second TV commercial, I suggest that you look into your heart for the answer as to why you feel that the Spanish language is offensive to you." I couldn't have said it better myself.

  3. We are honored to have this extremely insightful and complimentarly editorial written about our Spanish language TV commercial by Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist.

    Posted on Sun, Oct. 21, 2007

    English language not endangered

    La gente dice que Earl Stewart lo hizo sólo por el poderoso dólar.

    (People say Earl Stewart did it only for the almighty dollar.)

    El dice que tienen razón.

    (He says they're right.)

    What's that? The subtitles are distracting? Fine, I'll stop.

    But the point here is, all Stewart wanted to do was sell Toyotas. It's something he's been doing for 33 years as the proprietor of Earl Stewart Toyota in Palm Beach County. Then he hit upon an idea he thought might expand his market: Spanish-language commercials with English subtitles. The spots run on English-language television and, though he speaks no Spanish, Stewart stars in them himself.

    The subtitles, he says, were an afterthought. 'I said, `You know, I'm going to be talking to a lot of people that don't speak Spanish so, as a courtesy or to explain what I'm doing, maybe I should use English subtitles.' It was really an effort on my part, albeit a failure, to be nice to the monolingual folks.''

    The ''monolingual folks'' were not feeling the love -- putting it mildly. Stewart says the commercial brought him a ''flood'' of angry, often profane e-mails and phone calls, nine out of every 10 sharply critical of his commercial. As described by Stewart, the complaints tended to be longer on emotion than on logic.

    For instance, they said that by advertising in Spanish, he encouraged Spanish-speakers to avoid learning English. But he was advertising on English stations, so anyone watching presumably already spoke the language.

    And people kept referencing Mexico, usually in sentences that began with, ''Why don't you go back to . . . '' But anybody who knows South Florida knows that, while it is home to many Spanish speakers, the bulk of them are not Mexican.

    ''I think there's a lot of fear out there,'' says Stewart. ``All of the (presidential) candidates to some extent are using the immigration thing as a lever to get elected. They're appealing to the fear Americans have, some of this 9/11 stuff. And the rhetoric has a lot of the people who are not as informed or maybe don't listen carefully, convinced that most of the Spanish people in this country are illegal immigrants or they're terrorists.''

    It's a cogent analysis, but I think there's more going on here. One suspects that at bottom what set Stewart's critics off is a fear so visceral they might not even have words to express it. Put simply: Since when do we need subtitles in our own country?

    To which the best answer is probably another question. Who is ''we''? What is ``our''?

    The fact is that ''we'' is not what it used to be, and ''our'' reflects a nation more diverse than ever before. The Census Bureau says the Hispanic population of Palm Beach County stands at 16.7 percent, nearly two percentage points higher than the national figure. Isn't it smart business to reach out to them? Why begrudge Stewart's efforts to do so?

    Granted, it's not hard to empathize with the sense of dislocation some people feel as they watch the nation changing around them. But to understand what they feel is not necessarily to share it.

    In the first place, hysterical predictions to the contrary notwithstanding, it's exceedingly unlikely that English is in danger of losing its position of primacy. In the second place, people will sooner or later have to understand that while change is frightening, change is also life, especially in a nation as susceptible as this one to the forces of the free market. Which is, for my money, the moral of Stewart's story.

    He says that as that story has become better known, the public response has done a 180-degree turnabout. The commercial -- and the notoriety -- have brought customers from as far away as Miami. And he's just had his best September, ever. All of which leaves Stewart with mixed emotions. He's disappointed in many of his fellow Americans.

    On the other hand, business is good.

    Leonard Pitts Jr.

    Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood. His column runs every Monday and Friday. Email Leonard at or visit his website at


Earl Stewart On Cars welcomes comments from everyone - supporters and critics alike. We'd like to keep the language and content "PG Rated" so please refrain from vulgarity and inappropriate language. We will delete any comment that violates these guidelines. Oh yeah - one more thing: no commercials! Other than that, comment-away!