Hispanic TV Summit: Spanish-Language Marketing is Sensitive

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New York -- Cable-operator and satellite-TV marketers shared stories about
targeting Hispanics – whether to go Spanish-only or bilingual in
messages, how to stretch niche-marketing dollars in a down economy – at
a Hispanic Television Summit session Sept. 21 that even put a Time
Warner Cable executive on the spot over the company’s choice to hire a
non-Hispanic marketing agency to promote its El Paquetazo package.

David Gray, TWC’s regional VP of marketing and sales in New York City, where the 138-channel, $35 El Paquetazo launched in June,
said the cable operator expected “it was going to be a little
controversial” when TWC opted to run bilingual commercials to promote
the big mix of English and Spanish-language programming. Broadcasters
were expected to resist running such ads, he said, but TWC ended up
getting “much more pushback” from Spanish-language programmers. So the
company had to develop a Spanish-only campaign for those networks.

Moderator Laura Martinez, a Multichannel News
contributing editor, observed on the panel that some Hispanic-focused
media agencies in Miami, Fla., were unhappy that TWC opted for Gotham
Inc., instead of a Hispanic-specializing agency, to roll out the El
Paquetazo message (which launched first in Los Angeles). Gray was asked
about that choice by an audience member, and essentially said the
company wanted a bilingual message and Gotham was ultimately selected.

Philip
Polk, director of segmentation marketing at Cox Communications, said
Cox targets Hispanics in TV commercials in Spanish – but sends printed
material to the home in both Spanish and English. Some customers don’t
like being targeted in English and others don’t like being marketed in
Spanish, he said. “You can’t win,” he said. But as demographics and
language usage evolves within U.S. Hispanic homes, marketing pitches
must evolve. So does the programming mix: Cox first launched a Hispanic
tier about five years ago with an all-Spanish lineup, and later added
English language channels, Polk said.

John de Armas, VP of WorldDirect (international-language channels) at DirecTV,
said for “clarity” DirecTV prefers to do its marketing to Hispanics all
in Spanish. “I’m Hispanic and selling to a Hispanic audience, I like to
use Hispanic media and speak Spanish to them,” he said.

Polk
said that when marketing budgets tighten up, Hispanic marketing budgets
really tighten up because the audience is smaller. To stretch dollars
further, he adds bilingual messages and casts Hispanics in
general-market advertising.

“What we have been able to prove
is when you create these [bilingual] spots properly, you will not
alienate the general audience but you will bring on many more Hispanics
than you would have,” Polk said. It’s also vital that customer service
agents and field installers also understand the package, and the
language, he said.

As with all marketing, the more relevant the
message, the better. Christine Clavijo-Kish, senior VP of multicultural
markets for PR Newswire, gave ESPN Deportes high marks for packaging
baseball content (including a Major League Baseball game and a
documentary about Cuban pitcher Luis Tiant in a bilingual way that appealed to Caribbean Hispanics.

“ESPN really knows how to hone in on what Hispanics they want to talk to,” Clavijo-Kish said.

She
also credited History en Espanol for messages that touch on Hispanics’
desire for their children to achieve more than their parents (the theme
of “aspiration”). “It ties the brand back to a consumer insight,” she
said.

The summit, an annual event sponsored by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable, concluded Sept. 24 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.

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