Automakers Steer Hispanic-Targeted Content

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Automakers are putting the pedal to the metal with multiplatform, Hispanic-targeted branded initiatives aimed at boosting sales and raising brand awareness.

Starting August 18, visitors to the YahooTelemundo Web site will be able to log onto a special page and help a soccer player win a contract with Miami FC, South Florida's only professional soccer team. An online reality series, Gol de Media Cancha (The Longshot) will feature twelve two-minute episodes that will run for six weeks, after which the team's coach will pick a final winner.

The stunt is a made-for-broadband branded entertainment initiative involving NBC Universal-owned Telemundo, Miami FC and General Motors, which will leverage the series to pitch its GMC Sierra truck to a mostly male audience. The digital series will air online, and a custom site for Gol de Media Cancha will go live on YahooTelemundo, with the Sierra truck as a sole sponsor. Prior to the series' launch, the Telemundo network will air 30-second teasers driving awareness for the series and 60-second capsules consisting of 30-seconds of Web content and a 30-second GMC spot.

“We felt this was a great opportunity to tap into one of Hispanics' biggest passions,” said Ayana Waddell, GMC's national brand assistant advertising manager.

Gol de Media Cancha is the latest of a recent wave of Hispanic-targeted multiplatform initiatives by automakers. These deals include creating Web content that can be migrated the TV set and mobile devices.

Automotive was one of a few categories that performed better in Hispanic advertising spending in 2007, compared to the general market. While the category was down 11% in 2007 across all media, it was actually up 4% in Spanish-language media, per Nielsen Monitor Plus.

GMC's soccer series will be its second initiative of the kind. The automaker in 2007 partnered with YahooTelemundo to launch Gana mi Casa (another GMC acronym), an online home improvement show that featured six U.S. Hispanic families competing for a home makeover. In both cases, the truck takes center stage throughout the competition. “You'll see a lot of interaction with the vehicle; this is not just a product placement deal; but the truck is fully integrated into the content,” said Waddell.

Also joining the trend of custom-made branded content for Hispanic audiences is Ford, which this year premiered Amores de Luna, a 22-episode branded TV, online and mobile advertising campaign in the form of a mini-telenovela. Amores de Luna, which centers around Ford's newest crossover vehicle, the Flex, began airing on July 7 on three local Telemundo stations: KVEA in Los Angeles, WNJU in New York and WSCV Miami, considered the highest volume markets for crossover vehicles.

“The growth in the crossover segment coming from U.S. Hispanics is outpacing that of the general market,” said David Rodriguez, Ford's multicultural marketing manager.

Online branded entertainment is still in its infancy, and it remains to be seen if such efforts can yield actual vehicle sales. However, Telemundo is confident they will.

Citing its longstanding commitment to research, the network says it can provide clients with specific data on how a particular message resonates with consumers and, most importantly, if it changes their opinion about a brand. Still, with regards to the recent partnerships with Ford and GMC, Telemundo chief operating officer Jacqueline Hernández said: “It is still too early to be able to share results; and these would be proprietary.”

The automakers, for their part, seem willing to continue to shift budgets to test the waters and explore any areas they perceive as growth opportunities.

“As Hispanic consumers evolve in the way they consume media, we will continue to use these multichannel programs,” said Ford's Rodriguez. “It's just smart business.”

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