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
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
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 English-language networks] still is very
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 Spanish-language
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]
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