Ask anybody in the U.S. Hispanic media and advertising industry to name five executives with the most knowledge, power and experience in the multibillion dollar space, and one name will invariably pop up: Monica Gadsby. The Brazil-born CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group’s U.S. Multicultural and Latin America divisions, is a solid professional who speaks many languages fluently, including the language of media, marketing and advertising targeting the more than 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S., whether they are Spanish- language dominant, bilingual or fully acculturated and English-language preferred. Gadsby, who in 2011 was presented with the Achievement in Hispanic Television Award, this year returns to be the opening keynote interview guest at the 12th Annual Hispanic Television Summit, to be presented on Oct. 2 by B&C and Multichannel News.
With a career in advertising that spans almost 30 years, Gadsby is one of the nation’s most respected media experts. Under her leadership, the two multicultural units of Starcom MediaVest — Tapestry and MV42 — have placed millions of advertising dollars in the Hispanic TV marketplace and handled an estimated $1 billion in media buys. But perhaps more important than the dollars and cents are the ways in which the so-called Hispanic demographic has transformed from the time Gadsby first entered the space. “Ours is no longer a story of catching up with general-market and English-language television,” she said during her acceptance speech in 2011. “Ours is a story of leadership. We now command the largest audiences, we now define the gold standard in television.”
Three years later, Gadsby continues to make waves, leading a team handling mutimillion-dollar budgets for giants such as Procter & Gamble, The Coca-Cola Co., Wal-Mart, Kraft, Disney and Burger King. On the eve of the Hispanic Summit, Gadsby spoke with Laura Martinez about the market. Following is an edited transcript.
Q:What would you say are the three most important trends going on today in Hispanic television?
Monica Gadsby: The three most important trends going on today in Hispanic television are the proliferation of cable networks aiming to reach the bicultural audience, more reality series with high-caliber production and original scripted programming based on modern plotlines and what’s hot in pop culture today.
Q: Your agency has been associated with tons of content/broadcast deals for clients in Spanish-language media. What have been the most important ones in the last 12 months?
MG: There’s nothing we can speak about publicly that we’ve done in the last 12 months, but I can say that our strategy over the past few years has been to focus on deals that target key areas important to this marketplace — digital, partners with scale and millennials.
Q:Speaking of millennials — what is your opinion of the growing crop of English-language outlets targeting Hispanic millennials?
MG: I embrace the growing crop of English-language outlets targeting Hispanic millennials because I believe it is critical for media companies to authenticate the Latino voice and vantage point. Bilinguals are the largest segment of the overall Hispanic population and, while they have a variety of options in Spanish, Latinos are also yearning for English content that both nods to their cultural heritage and is relevant to how they view themselves as modern Americans.
Q:In this respect, what do you think about Fusion, specifically? Is an agency like yours ‘hot’ on these types of new outlets? Or are Univision and Telemundo still kings of audiences and advertising?
I feel that Fusion is still trying to find a voice for itself as to how the network wants to be perceived as a media brand. It’s recruiting young, bicultural Hispanic talent and embracing social media, which is critical for our market. Fusion represents an important emerging outlet to reach a growing Hispanic millennial population [that] wants to consume culturally relevant content in English. However, Univision and Telemundo still play an important role in reaching roughly 85% of the Spanish-speaking population.
Q:DirecTV is planning to launch an online service, en español, a la Netflix. This is only the latest of several efforts. What’s your take on online entertainment?
MG: Entertainment online offerings are clearly making an impact and changing the evolving entertainment landscape. It is great to see other media companies prioritize and expand Hispanic content offerings. Hispanics are far more likely to subscribe to video streaming services due to their voracious appetites for video on-the-go. This is evidenced by 27 percent of Latinos subscribing to Netflix vs. only 16 percent of their non-Hispanic counterparts.
Q:If you had a crystal ball — what does the Hispanic TV space look like 10 years from now?
MG: I think Hispanic TV will transition into Hispanic audience-targeting through TV. It will be more about reaching these consumers across the programming they tune into, whether it be The Real Housewives or [Estrella TV’s] Rica, Famosa, Latina. Language will be an attribute but not the sole determinant of how television will be bought or how Hispanic audiences will be reached.