The New York Times
August 31, 2005

A Growing Passion for the Latino Market


A PUERTO RICAN agency is expanding to the mainland by opening a division based in New York that will specialize in producing campaigns for mainstream marketers seeking to reach Hispanic consumers.

The expansion by the agency, Lopito, Ileana & Howie, is to be announced today by the principals in San Juan and New York. The formation of the division - named Azafrán, after the Spanish word for saffron - is among several fresh developments that underscore the intensifying ardor among agencies and advertisers in the booming Latino market. Here are some of the others:

¶ Georgia-Pacific, the paper products giant, has hired its first agency of record for Hispanic advertising, La Agencia de Orcí & Asociados, based in Los Angeles. The company is to announce the decision today, to coincide with the start of its initial Spanish-language campaign in the form of television commercials for the Brawny brand of paper towels.

¶ With its Spanish-language programming, WXTV, the Univision Communications station in New York, drew more prime-time viewers this month in two pivotal demographic categories, ages 18 to 49 and 25 to 54, than any of the stations owned by the Big Three networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - did with English-language shows. (Yes, WXTV had original programming while many of the shows broadcast by WABC, WCBS and WNBC were reruns. Still, a station aimed at Hispanics had never before bested its mainstream competitors in the nation's No. 1 TV market.)

¶Sí TV, a cable network aimed at Latinos who speak English - owned by an alliance that includes EchoStar Communications and Time Warner - has signed sponsorship deals with marketers like Sirius Satellite Radio and the Universal Motown Records Group, part of the Universal Music Group division of Vivendi Universal.

¶The Magazine Publishers of America is planning its first conference devoted to Hispanic magazines, to be held Oct. 14 and 15 as a curtain-raiser for its 2005 annual conference, scheduled to start Oct. 16.

¶The Interstate Bakeries Corporation, the maker of that all-American snack, Twinkies, is introducing a line of cakes called Las Delicias de Hostess, in Dallas, Phoenix and San Diego.

Since 2001, when early data from the 2000 census showed that the Hispanic population in the United States was roughly on a par with the black population as the biggest minority, Madison Avenue has stepped up its efforts aimed at the Latino market. For example, Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported yesterday that the fastest-growing category of advertising spending in the first six months of 2005 was Spanish-language TV, up 15 percent from the period a year earlier.

Even so, revenue for all Spanish-language networks totaled $1.1 billion, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, part of the Nielsen Media Research unit of VNU, compared with almost $11.8 billion for broadcast networks and almost $11 billion for cable networks. And while Hispanics make up about 14.7 percent of the American population, advertising aimed at them accounts for only an estimated 3.5 percent of total ad spending each year.

"To me, there's two marketing challenges for advertisers: China and the Hispanic market in the U.S.," said Graham Hall, who recently joined the Bravo Group in New York, the Hispanic agency arm of Young & Rubicam Brands, in a senior new post with an offbeat title, chief insights officer.

"A new understanding of the Hispanic market still needs to come about," Mr. Hall said, despite the progress advertisers have made to date. Y.& R. Brands is part of the WPP Group.

For example, despite Georgia-Pacific's status as one of the nation's largest advertisers, only this week is the company making its initial foray into the Hispanic arena.

"We were trying to figure out how to do it right and how to get the resources allocated to do it properly," said Gino Biondi, brand marketing director for Brawny towels at Georgia-Pacific in Atlanta.

A reason for the delay, Mr. Biondi said, was that "we determined it was far more complex than just putting Spanish language on a package or dubbing Spanish onto the soundtrack of a commercial."

That was because of cultural differences among Hispanics, he added, based on whether they trace their ancestries to places like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Puerto Rico. In addition, he said, there are differences between "acculturated Hispanics and nonacculturated Hispanics" - that is, those who adapt to life in the United States and those who do not.

La Agencia de Orcí, which will also create Spanish-language campaigns for a second Georgia-Pacific brand, Angel Soft bathroom tissue, is sharing with its new client its experience working with retailers in Latino neighborhoods as well as the results of studies of the market.

"There are little things we found" in the research, said Tony Stanol, client services director at La Agencia de Orcí, like the Hispanic habit of using paper towels to wrap sandwiches. So a scene showing that is part of the new spot.

And the personality of the Brawny Man brand character is being expressed somewhat differently than it is in mainstream campaigns, Mr. Stanol said, to reflect that Latino consumers want him to be "the guy who helps you do your housework, not necessarily the guy who does it for you." So the commercial ends with a slogan on screen calling the character "the strong guy who helps you with anything," which does not appear in mainstream spots.

An agency based in Puerto Rico like Lopito, Ileana, which opened in 1972, may have a unique vantage point for helping marketers understand the Hispanic landscape. After all, Puerto Ricans are often explaining to residents of the 50 states that they are Americans, too.

"We hope to bridge the gap by offering something that reflects our own experiences," said Jaime Fortuño, vice president and general manager at Lopito, Ileana. He is coming to New York as the managing partner at Azafrán, leading the new division with Alicia de Armas, account director at Lopito, Ileana, who is joining him in New York as account management director at Azafrán.

Azafrán is opening with one client, the Orlando Magic basketball team. Clients of Lopito, Ileana include Anheuser-Busch, Cingular Wireless, Hershey and J. C. Penney, for the Puerto Rican market, as well as, for the United States mainstream market, Puerto Rican tourism and the marketing organization known as Rums of Puerto Rico.

Asked if he was daunted by the considerable challenges ahead, Mr. Fortuño replied with a rhetorical question.

"If you have a surname with a tilde like mine and you live in the first decade of the 21st century, how can you not be involved in this?" he asked.