A Latino Phone Company Puts Hispanic Media to the Test

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Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Chicago and San Francisco enjoy large Hispanic populations, ones with especially strong ties to Mexico. Indeed, according to Americatel, the volume of monthly phone traffic between those U.S. cities and Mexico totals 23 million minutes, more than half of all its U.S. traffic combined.

So what better time than now to use an American multicultural agency to reach frequent callers to Mexico and other Latin American countries and pitch them a Latino-owned phone service?

In March, Americatel, a Chilean-owned, Miami-based telecommunications company, awarded a $25 million account to the Chicago-based Tapestry agency to begin work on three advertising campaigns: one to promote prepaid calling cards, one to promote long-distance subscriptions, and one to promote Americatel's best-selling product, a 10-10-123 calling-code service. Zubi Advertising of Coral Gables, Fla., an independent agency, will manage creative.

The pitch involves "surround sound," says Monica Gadsby, Tapestry's joint managing director. "We want to talk to our consumers as often as possible in as many ways as possible. Our plan calls for a broad mix of contact points," including an elaborate Web site, www.123.com.

Hispanic television plays a key role. It includes an extension of Americatel's sponsorship of Univision's highly popular three-hour entertainment show Sabado Gigante, starring Don Francisco.

"He is one of the most recognized and respected celebrities in the market," says Gadsby. "We seek to merge content and contact. He drives awareness of new Americatel offers, calls out specific promotional opportunities and celebrates individual countries of origin as appropriate." And you can't leave a better calling card than the one Univision provides: It is overwhelmingly the most popular Hispanic network and available in 97% of U.S. Hispanic homes.

Tapestry will also utilize specific advantages of the Latin American League Soccer on Fox Sports en Español, which, depending on what teams are playing, provides almost pinpoint marketing. "A Chilean consumer watching a Chilean match," Gadsby explains, " will see a Chilean Americatel rate advertised and think, 'This company is talking to me.'"

Radio and newspaper ads are also involved. "The strategy is to provide the right mix of reach and relevance," she says. "We can achieve this by carefully selecting the radio programs or music formats we use. For newspapers, we look for a specific country-of-origin titles, which allow for very targeted messaging."

Noting this is an all-Hispanic-media buy, Gadsby adds, "This is a different target. We're reaching out to people with families in other Latin countries, and our pitch is to connect them back home."