Isaac Mizrahi, ALMA: “Hispanic Agencies have something General Market Agencies don’t have”

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One of the key themes facing Multicultural Marketing is whether specialized agencies (e.g. Hispanic, African-American) have an advantage over "general market players (btw: check out the heated debate during a panel during the last edition of Portada's conference " Are Multicultural Media Buying Agencies Necessary?). Perhaps for creative agencies the argument for strong Multicultural/Hispanic insights is even stronger than for media buying. That is why we thought it would be a good idea to interview, Isaac Mizrahi, Co President, Chief Operating Officer, ALMA, a leading (creative) agency that exclusively specializes in Hispanic marketing.

Portada: You seem to have the opinion that brands are more focused on efficiency than on effectiveness. Why do you think that is the case?

Isaac Mizrahi, Co-President, COO, Alma: "Just to be clear, we believe efficiency and effectiveness should always go hand in hand when working on any marketing communications plan. The problem is when there’s prioritization toward efficiency and most of the focus is on the delivery of the message to consumers and not so much on how effective the message is, in the short-term and in the long-term from a brand building perspective.No matter how great the placement of your message is or how low your CPM, CPP, CTR or any metric you use to evaluate efficiency of your plan could be, none of this actually helps your brand if your message is weak, doesn’t connect with consumers or doesn’t make them react to your brand. In a world full of clutter, only the strong brands survive, and this is achieved only by crafting relevant and insight-based creative messages."

Portada: Can you provide examples (perhaps in a certain category) that reflect how an exclusive focus on efficiency can be detrimental for ROI and sales?

I.M: "Categories with high competition and low clear brand differentiation are the ones who tend to suffer the most from this strategic mistake. In these categories, you either differentiate your brand by adding relevant benefits and imagery attributes into it or you are simply forced to heavily discount your margin to buy short-term volume."

We see brands that decided to significantly reduce or even eliminate their segment-specific programs, suffering deep sales and market share losses.

Portada: Why do you think a Hispanic specific agency has a better chance to deliver to clients than a general market agency?

I.M: "Hispanic agencies have something general market agencies don’t have when it comes to the Hispanic segment – specialization. It is curious to observe that in our society specialization is a characteristic that is not only appreciated but also commands a premium value. Think about the medical field where a cardiologist is highly preferred to a general physician if you have a heart problem. Specialized agencies bring extreme focus to the Hispanic segment, following its trends, assessing what works and what doesn’t work, understanding how a story is created and told to the segment through cultural lenses. That’s very different from an agency that doesn’t have that focus and tries to replace it with the idea of one single creative concept, created by non-Hispanics and translated and adapted by a couple of Hispanic professionals to create the perception of inclusion.Today’s marketplace is more fragmented; it creates more opportunities by further slicing and dicing segments and clusters. The idea of one-size-fits-all goes against this trend and sends us back to how marketing to the Hispanic segment was done in the ‘70s and ‘80s, truly being a “forward to the past” strategy. We do believe that there’s room for collaboration and integration between the general market and Hispanic agencies. The challenge is when this integration is forced by design for the sake of integration and efficiencies at the expense of relevancy, consumer insights and effectiveness."

Portada: Do you think Trump's victory implies that Total Market may not be the best approach to target Hispanic consumers or multicultural?

I.M: "We believe that, for the past few months, Total Market is being questioned given the limited results when it comes to delivering growth, and this is a trend independent from this year’s elections. We see brands that decided to significantly reduce or even eliminate their segment-specific programs, suffering deep sales and market share losses. Some of these brands are starting to reverse their approach by adopting a more contemporary strategy of investing on segment-specific strategies and, at the same time, injecting more inclusive and multicultural insights on their general market approach. This is what we call “The Power of AND.”

Get ready for #Portada17 on Sept. 14 in New York City! The Hispanic Sports Marketing Forum on September 13, and the 11th Annual Hispanic Advertising and Media Conference on September 14 will provide you with the best content and unparalleled networking opportunities to succeed in Multicultural America.


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