Content

Campaigns That Pop

12/05/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

Mas is Spanish for “more.” It’s also the name of a NBC Universal Cable marketing campaign — and the new mantra for a host of other cable marketers who know an opportunity when they see one.

With around 75 networks and several MSOs now targeting Hispanic consumers, it was only a matter of time before a critical mass of cable marketing campaigns emerged with Latinos in their sights. They’ve been fueled not only by the primal need to make waves in a competitive landscape, but research that speaks to the growth curve that could lie ahead for any cable company that successfully attracts Latinos.

According to Horowitz Associates Inc.’s Focus Latino IV data, while 70% of non-Hispanic households subscribe to cable, only 57% of urban Hispanics do. And the numbers are even worse for Spanish-dominant households (48%). Indeed, while English-speaking Hispanics overindex for cable, bilingual and Spanish-dominant Latinos overindex on satellite penetration.

Not so coincidentally, NBC Universal Cable’s “Mas” campaign was launched in September 2003 to support operators in their efforts to drive penetration in key Hispanic growth markets. Reinforcing Telemundo and mun2 as brands was a secondary, though significant, aspect.

“What NBC wanted was to complement what their MSO clients were already doing,” says Pedro Blanco, president of ad agency Blanco Lorenz, which created the “Mas” campaign. “But I tip my hat to NBC. They wanted to grow cable, not just NBC programming.”

Lynette Pinto, vice president of marketing for NBC Universal Cable Networks, says the company was motivated by the now-well-known fact that direct-broadcast satellite firms targeted Hispanics much earlier and more effectively than cable. “Satellite offered Hispanic households a $24.99 price point where they could go straight to Spanish-language programming,” Pinto recalls. “In cable, you had to buy through all those English-language channels. There was also a lack of awareness about cable. We needed to focus on teaching.”

Pinto told her MSO affiliates: “The 'Mas’ campaign shows Hispanics that having cable is about much more than just paying for TV.”

In TV spots filmed in Spanish and English, “Mas” offers up family-focused vignettes that underscore Latino cultural guide points: In “Food & Family,” an immigrant, Ernesto, has finally brought his parents to America. But his kids have their world, and the grandparents still want to hold on to another. “It’s actually not that hard to give everyone what they need,” the spot says. “Cable gives us more — more channels, perfect picture quality, and more choices for the whole family.” That’s why, Ernesto says, “Quiero Mas. Quiero cable.” — “I want more. I want cable.”

In other vignettes, Jorge and his sister have similar revelations regarding high-speed Internet access while Marta and her extended family delight in cable’s large monthly movie fare. Radio spots, print ads and direct-mail components also were included.

In the end, five MSOs and 25 cable systems representing over 300 headends ran the “Mas” campaign. They include Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Adelphia Communications Corp. and Time Warner Cable. Says Pinto: “We know it’s a successful campaign because it got used.”

“Hispanic TV has mainly been broadcast,” Blanco adds in discussing the fine points of the six-figure NBC Universal campaign. “Telemundo is a brand that has had permission to speak to Hispanic households for over 15 years. Now it acts as a matchmaker tying Telemundo to Time Warner. Or mun2 to Comcast, marrying over-the-air viewers to cable.”

NBC’s campaign won first-place honors in the 2004 Excellence in Multicultural Marketing Awards, given out by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing. Cox’s Arizona unit garnered the same honor for a Hispanic campaign with a decidedly local approach.

COX’S ARIZONA CAMPAIGN

Tony Maldonado, vice president of marketing at Cox Arizona, says it’s not so much a campaign as a new state of mind about marketing. “It’s a holistic effort on the best way to do business with Hispanics,” he says. “We’re talking product and services, the overall customer experience, how we advertise.”

Of the 1.7 million homes passed by Cox in Arizona, approximately 25% are Hispanic. While the MSO provides 2 million products to Arizona residents statewide, there are roughly 200,000 moderately assimilated Hispanic households that are not taking cable.

Cox went after these homes on their terms, providing Hispanic customers with a start-to-finish Spanish-language customer experience. A dedicated Spanish-language advertising sales team was launched (joining the Spanish-language customer service team in place since 1999); Spanish-speaking field technicians were hired for installations, the Cox Digital Cable welcome kit was produced in Spanish, and a Spanish-language billing statement was introduced. (Cox claims to be the first MSO to bill in Spanish).

Spanish-language cable and broadcast spots were created, and 200,000 direct-mail pieces were sent. No detail was too small. “Most direct-mail pieces to Hispanic homes are large and highly-colorful,” Maldonado says, “but we never assume what works. We test-marketed several kinds, and found the best results came from a plain, white No. 10 mail package with a two-sided bilingual letter. Our sales call volume increased by 18%. Our connect rate increased by 32%.”

What’s more, because the Spanish-language programming tier had a low consumer awareness, Maldonado’s team changed TV spot tactics. It dropped a humorous vignette inserted on Spanish TV channels and replaced it with a more direct-response approach, offering tier and price point information and quick cuts of genre programming.

“What’s important is you can’t offer a great video service and weak customer service,” Maldonado explains. “We are offering great video and telephone options along with highly relevant, Spanish-oriented customer service.”

HISTORY’S APPROACH

Another service with a decidedly local approach to its Hispanic marketing campaign is The History Channel en español, which had its U.S. launch in June. Working closely with affiliates, the channel is advertising itself at cultural events, neighborhood fairs and Spanish community events, according to Mike Mohamad, senior vice president of marketing at The History Channel.

“We are providing print, TV and radio in 20 markets, but we are also setting up bilingual booths, really doing grass roots marketing,” Mohamad says. “You can’t do a network spot with this, there’s too much waste.”

History’s thinking also seems to be that there would be too much waste if it simply revoiced the mainstream U.S. History Channel — or launched a clone of History’s Latin American spinoff. Although clearly, some of its programming has equal relevance both North and South of the Mexican border, like Raices de America (Roots of America), which focuses on cliff mummies in the Andes, Mexican pyramids and treasures of Peru.

“We are addressing the needs of the Hispanic community, their acculturation and the interest in understanding their culture,” Mohamad says. “Although Hispanics have melded very well, they want to maintain their culture. They speak Spanish at home, and they see The History Channel as relevant to their lives.”

Currently The History Channel en español is carried on the Hispanic tiers of the MSOs Comcast, Cox, Insight Communications Co., Adelphia and the National Cable Television Cooperative, which serve about 17 million basic subscribers in total.

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