Upfronts 2013: Searching for Best Route to the Multicultural Mainstream

Specialized networks still considered top way to connect with consumers

Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013

It has become a fascinating, volatile
time for TV networks trying to
reach multicultural viewers in the
U.S., with some Darwinian choices being
made among specialty and general
interest broadcasters. Likewise, advertisers
and agencies are mulling strategies,
wondering when and how to get deeper
into the mix to reach the endlessly growing
segment of the population.

The numbers continue to stagger: A recent
study by Horowitz Associates found
that 46% of Americans under 18 are multicultural,
with Hispanics (23%), African-
Americans (14%) and Asians (4%) making
up a bulk of the total. In the 18-34 group,
multicultural totals account for 42%.

“People who are multicultural are the
mainstream,” Depelsha McGruder, senior
VP of business operations for African-American
network Centric, said at Horowitz’s
13th annual Multicultural Media for Multicultural
America Forum last month.
“These are the people who are the general
market of the future, and now.”

Gonzalo Del Fa, president of GroupM
Multicultural, said brands have more
than taken notice, with clients asking
about how they can better market to
multicultural consumers—chiefly Hispanics.
“Many companies realize that
this is a big market; it’s growing,” he said.
“Clients are really interested…[they’re]
actually coming to the market.”

Isabella Sanchez, VP of media integration
for independent multicultural agency
Zubi Advertising, sees auto, financial and
movies as categories that should continue
to grow in their multicultural involvement;
Fandango’s recent partnership with Telemundo
on Fandango Cine is one example.
“There’s a lot of categories that still haven’t
tapped into this market as much as they
could,” she said. “The multicultural space
in general is still on a growth trajectory.”

And the “influence” of the Hispanic
population, with a majority of them being
millennials, is what should drive advertisers
to this marketplace, said Mike Rosen,
executive VP, advertising sales, Telemundo
Media. “Marketers have come to realize
that the power of the Hispanic population
as a future business driver lies well beyond
the well-publicized census data,” he said.

Fording the Mainstream

With multicultural demographics becoming
mainstream, it has caused media
spending to go through the big buyers
instead of specialized agencies. “A great
deal of the multicultural media spending
has consolidated and moved to the big
general-market agencies,” said Sanchez.
That, however, could be changing—she
noted that Zubi recently acquired three
assignments that had previously been
consolidated. “The clients realized that
there is a benefit to integration with creative
and have true specialists working
on their business,” she said.

Sanchez added that there has “been a lot
of discussion” in not only multicultural but
also the general marketplace about moving
back towards specialized agencies.

Added Rosen: “The agency business has
always been a balance between subject- matter
experts and cross-athlete generalists.”

New Nets Offer Opportunities

While the general market has tried to capture
multicultural audiences, they still can’t
compete with specifically targeted networks,
which generally are recognized as
still the best way to connect with those consumers.
“It’s definitely the specialized networks,”
said Sanchez. Del Fa added: “The
reality is that spill [on the major Englishlanguage
networks] still is very small.”

New broadcast networks such as
MundoFox, as well as a trio of cable nets
launched by Univision, will only make it
tougher for broadcast. “There are more
and more networks coming into the fray,”
said Sanchez. New African-American-targeted
nets such as Bounce TV and Aspire
(owned by Magic Johnson) have also
joined the crowded marketplace.

And MundoFox so far has encountered
challenges with distribution, pointing
to how difficult it can be for newly
launched nets. “They’re still on a growth
mode,” Sanchez said.

“While there is no debate that a portion
of U.S. Latinos consume English-language
TV,” said Rosen, “the importance of Spanishlanguage
as the single most important cultural
connector among Hispanic families
and friends has made Spanish-language
TV more vital than ever.”

For del Fa, reaching Hispanic consumers
isn’t about simply putting an ad in front
of them; there has to be a connection. “It’s
not just about reaching eyeballs; it’s about
reaching hearts and brains,” he said.

While this idea is not new, the methods
for doing so remain a hot-button
point of discussion. Last fall, during
an Association of National Advertisers
Multicultural conference, Fay Ferguson,
co-CEO of Burrell Communications,
which specializes in African-American
marketing, took aim at those who think
a general-market approach will suffice.

“The general-market approach which
has dominated advertising communications
for the past 70-100 years is not relevant,”
she said. “It’s an old, outdated model.
Marketers must have a multicultural consumer
marketing strategy and plan.”

And as the industry moves farther away
from the traditional TV set, it’s more important
than ever for marketers to build strategies
for reaching consumers elsewhere.
It’s even more key when you consider that
multiculturals—especially Hispanics—are
among the most active early adopters in the
digital space. “Hispanics are growing really
fast on online consumption,” del Fa said.
“Digital is becoming a big component of all
the plans we’re putting out there.” He also
specified that Hispanics are “really strong”
in terms of mobile and tablet devices.

Rosen agreed that Hispanics are among
“the most connected of all consumers,”
saying their use of social and mobile media
vastly outdoes the general market.
“To fail to expand marketing efforts to all
platforms and connection points would
be to ignore the leadership position Hispanics
occupy in virtually all new communication
channels,” he said.

Toward that end, every program on Telemundo
and mun2 includes a digital, mobile
and social component so the company’s
marketing partners can “tap into the
full potential of the paid, owned, earned
and shared experiences that our viewers
have with our content,” Rosen said.

When it comes to online, however, Hispanics
are more likely to visit the same
websites as the general market. “Yahoo,
Google and Amazon are huge across the
board,” said del Fa. “When they go online,
they navigate [in] both languages.”

Del Fa added that if he only advertised
on Spanish-language websites, he would
miss “a big portion of people.” It is more
advantageous, he argued, to dig a little
deeper and target by behavior instead. “It’s
much more efficient for me to know who
you are and follow you wherever you go
than assume you’re going to go to a place
that I have my ad,” del Fa said.

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