Karen Habib is the recently appointed director of the
Hispanic division of Eclipse Marketing Services, a Morristown, N.J.-based cable
marketing company. A seasoned executive with over 15 years in the multicultural
space, Habib has worked in affiliate brand management for several MTV
Networks-owned services, including MTV Tr3s, Logo, VH1, Noggin and Nicktoons.
Raised in Colombia by a Colombian mother and Cuban father, the former director
of affiliate marketing at the Univision Television Group spoke recently to Hispanic TV Update about heading the
company's new Hispanic division and why marketing cable to Hispanics matters.
HTU: Why and when did
Eclipse decide to launch a Hispanic division?
Karen Habib: We
feel the Hispanic market is not only a great opportunity area, but the biggest
opportunity cable marketers have today. The unprecedented growth of the market
makes Latinos an obvious potential source of new subscribers; not only cable,
but video, Internet and phone services. Latinos consume a lot of technology, a
lot of media; they strive to be connected. But they are also a natural
progression for the cable operators' offering: One million new teenagers become
adults each year in the Hispanic market.
In our meetings with cable operators, what we've heard is
that there is a need for strategically executed Hispanic marketing ... that has
to be done at a local level. And here is where we can really help.
HTU: But Eclipse
Marketing, which launched in 1992, has worked in the Hispanic space before.
What's different now?
KH: We have
created pieces [in the past] for the operators, but not really at a local
level. Now, we are capitalizing on the opportunity in a more strategic way, not
[just] creating a postcard here and there to fill a specific need. We are
looking to take a look at how a campaign can make sense at a time when budgets
have been chopped. As you know, budgets in the Hispanic market are either too
small or nonexistent.
Where we can help [cable operators] is that -- in the face
of small or no resources -- we can act as an extension of their marketing
departments, which we are doing on the VOD
front and other areas of business ... we want Hispanic also to be part of it.
HTU: Cable has acknowledged being at a disadvantage
when targeting the multicultural audiences, compared to satellite TV. How can
marketing change that?
KH: I have
to acknowledge cable has been moving aggressively in the right direction, both
on the programming and pricing front. They are launching more networks, and
their packages and pricing are becoming more competitive with satellite.
Cable operators have a lot more on their plate. There is
much more Hispanic content now than ever before. Now you have networks
targeting the acculturated, bilingual market; operators have better bandwidth
and offering VOD.
I'd say that from the
operational side, they are taking measures to beef up and compete, and we feel
that from the marketing and communications area we can be of tremendous help.
This is a time when budgets are limited, when multicultural marketers need to
be strategic in their approach. It's not only about translating pieces for the
Hispanic market (which is still being done!).
We need to customize the
message to connect with their needs, even if that sounds stereotypical. There
is no cookie-cutter approach to Hispanic marketing. That never works.
Does direct marketing work better in pitching cable services to U.S. Hispanics?
KH: My feeling is
that there is truly a need for localized [marketing]. Think about it: Most
campaigns are developed by the cable operators' Hispanic agency of record,
which are either in New York, Miami
or Los Angeles, but there is little
execution in smaller markets, such as North Carolina
or Arkansas, where there is huge
I truly believe in market-specific campaigns. I believe
strongly in the localization of the marketing tactics -- grassroots.
HTU: Which operators do you see as being more
aggressive in marketing these services to Hispanics?
think all cable operators really have upped what they are doing on the
operation side and offering. Look at Comcast, which has been moving some
networks from a tier to digital basic. That speaks volumes and tells you
Hispanic marketing is not niche; it's mainstream. If you're in markets like
Chicago, Houston, Miami, it's mainstream marketing; no longer niche. This is
why I think cable operators should give some serious consideration to reallocating
some of their acquisition dollars towards Hispanic and not making such a small
budget for Hispanic.
I think overall, they are
ramping up their offers. Look at Time Warner [Cable] and [its] recent launch of
El Paquetazo in New York.
HTU: In an ideal world, where do you see the Hispanic
KH: We want to be considered an extension of our
client's marketing department. We feel it's difficult to find resources for
this market. We know there's plenty of opportunity within that space and we
feel operators can make their lives much easier by outsourcing [marketing] and
want to meet them on a market-by-market level and determine together what the