December 01, 1998

After an amazing first day, there was another exciting half day of sessions ahead designed to further define the future of Hispanic marketing.  Sterling Green, Managing Director of Spike DDB and Doug Darfield, Senior Vice President of Multicultural Measurement for Nielsen were panelists in the first session discussing African-American and multicultural marketing.  They explored the opportunities and challenges of connecting with the cultural identity of consumers, rather than just their language.  It’s a continuation of the discussion AHAA started a few years ago with the groundbreaking Latino Identity Project that asked a simple question, “if you remove language, is a Latino still a Latino?”

Convincing clients that multicultural marketing – and in particular Hispanic marketing – is still a challenge given the structure of measurement tools available.  The indices of performance for African American are available but Darfield says they are still looking for the formula to bring the Hispanic market into sharper focus. 

The majority of Latino households are U.S. born, but that doesn’t mean that the people living in the house, which may be five or six people, aren’t Spanish dominant.  That’s what makes it a little tricky to decipher the data.  He explained, it’s the Hispanic teen market that will be moving into adulthood that marketers should be most concerned with as they begin consuming adult products in the year 2013 or 2015 and the language model will begin shifting.  “It’s a jump ball for that consumer to see who will get that business,” he said.  “You need to push up the multicultural discussion with your clients and take the lead.” 

When asked if there were opportunities to build media outlets or communication channels as a unique way to deliver against the segment, Green said yes, citing an example in the African American market.  He said, housing segregation is a problem but the housing industry has an opportunity to market to African Americans during this recession and direct response is a great channel for them to exploit.  The typical white household receives 12 pieces of direct mail each day while the typical African American household receives one.  “We need to look at everything we can use to get our brand to the consumer,” he said.  “We have to begin the process of doing more research and become media innovators – it’s about survival.  We can’t relegate ourselves to the traditional.”

Understand your segment and don’t promulgate a hypothesis based on it could, he urged marketers.  Be sure you know your audience.  He continued by saying that the despite the delivery mechanism, the message has to have relevance.  “It’s beyond language and culture,” he said.  “It is relevance.  Don’t put yourself in a box.  Don’t limit and self-segregate yourself.  You’ve come too far.”

Green cited an example from his agency with the launch of new Honey Nut Cheerios.  He said he pushed for a test to see how their ads, from a little African American shop (as he put it) stacked up in the general market against Saatchi and Saatchi’s work.  It was no contest.  Green’s agency won the business hands down and their spot boosted sales to surpass all expectations.  “It can be done,” he said. 

One marketer commented from the audience, “The mistake we make is that we can only come up with ideas for the Hispanic market,” she said.  “We are professionals… advertisers and marketers and we have the insight into Latino consumers because we are Hispanic.  But that shouldn’t stop us from going after business because we are thinking differently and can speak that language universally.  It should be an added dimension to the service we provide.” 

It’s those nuances and relationships and cultural insights that agencies can bring to the table that general market agencies can’t take advantage of, according to Darfield.  Nielsen now includes a question about where you were born, and that’s an easy answer.  But in the context of language, it is all relative.  For example, when you ask is your primary language English or Spanish they have to choose which best describes them and it’s all relative, he said.  They may speak English mostly in their home and consume media in a different way, Spanish perhaps, but most are influenced by who they are living with in their home.  “It’s tricky but Hispanic-specialized agencies have the answers,” Darfield said.

HispanicAd.com’s Gene Bryan asked, “Isn’t ‘multicultural’ hurting our market?  It’s a shield to lump us all in one bucket but in the multicultural market, Hispanic is the bulk of spending yet we’re still not receiving our fair share of the investment.”

Green responded, “I think we have to get away from the mind set of mine and yours.  We’re fighting over crumbs on the table.  Others are getting rich and unless we work together we won’t change the paradigm. As America, we’re going to change and we need to come together and continue the dialogue and broader experience and knock down the barriers.” 

Darfield added that from a Nielsen perspective, multicultural is a good thing.  It helps them sit with clients and make sure they have an awareness of the household formulation and that it has shifted to Hispanic.  The agencies need to have strategies to represent the household formulation and support it and then go out and grab the opportunity.

Eduardo Caballero Award  

Al Aguilar, CEO of Creative Civilization, took the podium to present the Eduardo Caballero Award to a good friend with whom he said he shared many memories, victories and admired greatly – Hispanic advertising pioneer Lionel Sosa.  “He’s the quintessential Renaissance man,” Aguilar said.  “I turn on PBS and Lionel’s talking about immigration reform.  I open the newspaper and he’s at a store doing a new book signing, or hosting an art show for his artwork at one of the galleries in San Antonio.  He’s amazing.”

Aguilar had a little fun with Sosa showing a “message from the White House” in which “President Obama” invited Sosa to “come on over to the other side.” Sosa’s support for the Republican Party and his instrumental counsel in generating the Latino vote for candidates such as Ronald Reagan and George Bush is a trademark of this advertising legend.

Sharing the incredible history of Sosa’s career and success in advertising, Aguilar presented a touching tribute to his longtime friend and partner.  A reel of his work demonstrated Sosa’s creative touch and unique ability to connect with the heart and create advertising that mattered to consumers.  Sosa was founder of Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates, now Bromley Communications, a leading independent Hispanic advertising agency in the U.S., and really kicked off the beginning of Hispanic-specialized marketing. 

“Eduardo taught me a few things to live by,” Sosa said in his acceptance remarks.  “Be proud of your Latino culture and do the best work you can do, and you will always succeed.  When I started Sosa & Associates, there were only 3 million Latinos in the U.S. and only four Hispanic-specialized marketing agencies.  I had one little goal for our small San Antonio-based agency:  to be the largest Hispanic-specialized agency in the United States.  We planned for our success and achieved our goal.”

The Caballero Award is presented to individuals whose lifetime contribution, dedication and vision have been crucial in create and fostering the U.S. Hispanic market.  Past recipients include:  Castor Fernández, Sara Sunshine, José Manuel Cubas, Joaquín Blaya and Alicia Conill; and Tere Zubizarreta.  Eduardo Caballero blazed the trail in the Hispanic broadcasting industry with over 40 years of experience in Spanish-language television and radio, and was instrumental in the development of AHAA nearly 12 years ago.

SECOND SESSION

The last session of the conference focused on Digital Media Hispanics over index in almost all categories of user generated content, but especially social networking. Is it a cultural thing? The audience found out during this panel discussion with social networking expert Manny Miravete, VP, Sales & Strategy, MySpace & MySpace Latino.

The difference between MySpace and Facebook is that MySpace is social portal.  You can customize your experience and choose to interact with content.  Facebook is more of a social utility.  The first digital media was email and we all know the valuable tool that created but MySpace and Facebook are more an experience.  MySpace in particular gets you and keeps you connected, and allows you to share your passions with others – that’s social aspect of it.

Social media can be used as a tactical medium or a strategic medium.  “You bring what you do in your daily life online and social media is enabling that.” Miravete said.  “You can run a simple banner or create a brand profile.  You can put your brand in that social arena.  Social media has mass reach.  Sixty-five percent of Hispanics who are online are using social networks.  It’s the fabric of Hispanic online.” 

Miravete cited several examples of innovative campaigns created by MySpace in conjunction with agencies and as standalone programs to launch communities online.  Music, portal components such as RSS feeds, video, picture galleries, are all part of the social experience they’ve created.  Most successful campaigns, he said, have pushed or pulled from traditional media to the Web.  It’s working for brands.

“Understand the key driving points for the brand,” he said. “Connect what your brand can offer and what users want.  Pharma has been slow to come to the medium – others like wireless have jumped right in. You need to bring very tangible value to users.”

Consumers are really savvy and know if they are being advertised to so you really want to create an ambassador for your brand, he added.  Develop the experience and content around passion points. 

Social media is a great way to use direct response.  Some agencies use it just to drive sales and reach the 10 million US Hispanic users.  It’s low cost and delivers high returns.  Branded initiatives are helping to launch new products and drive use and purchase. 

He encouraged agencies to come up with ideas and then use social media outlets as a vetting process – what’s possible and practical.  “We love to brainstorm the new and coolest ways to connect,” he said.  “Keep it simple.  Build the digital capabilities within your agencies so you’re able to deliver a broader based communication experience for clients – they are asking for it.”

People are spending on average 200 minutes per month in social networks.  You need to be where the consumers are spending time.

CONFERENCE CONCLUSION

The AHAA Conference came to a close with the Rising Star Awards, honoring two young media professionals for their talent, character and initiative.  Benjamin Aguirre, Media Supervisor at Tapestry and René Salinas, Junior Media Planner, at Anita Santiago Advertising were the award winners recognized as the next generation of leaders in the industry.

The day concluded with the transfer in AHAA leadership from José Lopez-Varela to Gisela Girard, AHAA’s new chairwoman.

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