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Neil Vogel, known in the advertising world as the guy behind the Webby Awards (the Internet take on the Oscars,) in April took over as CEO of About.com, replacing Darline Jean, who stayed in the company after IAC bought it from the New York Times last year. Vogel, whose main task is to overhaul the site’s look and user experience, spoke to Laura Martínez, Portada’s Senior Correspondent, about the opportunities -and challenges- of the site and what he plans to do with its Spanish-language content vertical.

An edited transcript follows:

Laura Martínez: For those who don’t know what About.com is all about… Give us a quick walk through, the big picture if you will of the property.

Neil Vogel Neil Vogel, CEO of About.com: “About.com is the largest network of handcrafted expert content channel in the Internet; we have 21 content channels and cover everything from how to make an apple pie to how to fix your car. I joined over 2 months ago, and what we’re doing is, we’re taking a fresh look at everything of what we’re doing here. What people know about us: We’re really big. We have 85 million to 87 million uniques a month; we do a 100 million page views a month, and a lot of that comes from search traffic.”

LM: What would you say are your most immediate challenges?

NV: “I think we don’t look as great as we should. What you probably know is that our UX and UI definitely have much room for improvement. We have huge opportunities in social and in mobile, so we want people to interact with our content better. We have this awesome content (950 plus guides) and because our content is really good, we have the challenge to build something more engaging.”

LM: I was looking for a ceviche recipe on the Internet and when I typed “ceviche” in Google, I got an About.com page on how to make ceviche. Yet, I would have never gone to About.com to look for it… Aren’t you guys too dependent on search engines?

NV: “For many people, Google is the front door to the Internet. So showing up first when you look for something in Google is actually a great thing. The challenge, for us, is that once you’ve found your ceviche thing, we want you to have a great experience: Perhaps watch a video, see some pictures, read about other people’s experience making ceviche…. Your experience has to be so good, that next time you see a link from About.com, you will want to click on it again.”

LM: And how do you plan to do that?

NV: “We are going to focus our site a little more domain specific and build things in that people want, whether it’s more social or things people expect in a modern content site.”

LM: You talked earlier about challenges in User Experience and design. Can we expect a radical redesign soon?

NV: “If you look at About.com a year from today vs. what it looks like today, you will say: ‘Wow! this is one big redesign.’ But the truth is that it’s not going to happen from one day to the next. It’s going to be a lot of small changes that add up to big changes. It’s going to be a thousand small things, not one thing.”

LM: How much of your traffic comes from mobile?

NV: I think a little more than 20% of our traffic comes from mobile, not including tablets.

LM: Do you guys plan to have an ‘app?’

NV: “Not really. Because the way people find us [mostly through search engines] we’re working on optimizing our mobile web.”

I’m not so sure a language should be a category.

LM: Let’s talk a bit about ‘Español.’ Right now, you treat About en Español as yet one more channel under About.com. Is this the way to go? Have you thought of making it a separate, independent page?

NV: “We’re looking at our Spanish content the same way we’re looking at everything we do. Before I got here, that’s how it was treated [as a vertical.] I cannot tell how -or why- that decision was made. I cannot tell you either if that was a good decision or a bad decision. What I can tell you now is that we’re looking at ways and see if that’s the right way to look at it. All I can tell you right now is that I’m not so sure a language should be a category.”

LM: Can you tell us a bit more about how you plan to address the Spanish-language part of About.com?

NV: “We need a comprehensive strategy on how we’re going to address this market [Spanish]. I can tell you we have 50 open jobs we’ve created since I got here, and some of these jobs will address tech issues, some content issues and some the Spanish-language site.”

LM: Can you give us some more specifics?

NV: “If we’re going to do it, it probably will have to be more than just one channel. Or maybe one channel that is very, very robust and then we’ll sell it differently. We’re looking at it right now. Organizationally you will have to committ yourself to do it… or not. I think [Spanish] is a very interesting asset, and we need to figure out something that serves the market well.”

LM: eHow is launching a Spanish-language service, currently in Beta. What would you say is your competitive advantage?

NV: “I don’t know anything about what [eHow] is doing. But I can tell you our competitors are anybody offering interesting reference content in the Internet.”

LM: About.com advertises itself as an ‘interesting vehicle for brands.’ What is it that you guys provide to marketers and how does that work?

NV: “All our traffic is intent-based traffic. So we can deliver a marketer a scale of audiences that look for very specific content and deliver an audience that is ready to make decisions. That is a core thing we can offer marketers! Historically, we haven’t done the best job doing that and I think our product needs to look a bit different to work better for brands.”

 

Univision on June 29th will air PBS’ Frontline Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño, a film that investigates the sexual assault of migrant farm and packing plant workers in the U.S.

The film will air first (June 25) on PBS and marks the first time “Frontline” has shared a film premiere with another American broadcaster.

“This is the very first time Frontline has collaborated with a domestic broadcast partner on a premiere,” said Raney Aronson-Rath, deputy executive producer for Frontline, in a statement. “The sexual abuse of immigrant women in our farms, fields and factories is a story that needs to be told — and this unprecedented broadcast partnership with Univision is a remarkable opportunity to expand the footprint of this important journalism.”

Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño is a Cam Bay production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and Univision News in association with the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the Center for Investigative Reporting. The director is Andrés Cediel.

“This program will undoubtedly be of very special interest to Univision’s audience,” says Isaac Lee, president of News for Univision. “We are committed to quality journalism and are proud of this partnership and of airing such an extraordinary investigative piece that brings to light the terrible sexual abuse that so many female migrant workers are being subjected to.

Frontline and Univision split the costs for the project. Financials were not released.

After 11 years on the job, Gaby Zabalúa-Goddard has resigned from her post as Vice President and Editor of AARP. Her last day in the Washington, D.C. office will be June 30.

“It’s time to put into practice what I’ve been preaching all these years,” Zabalúa-Goddard tells Portada. Upon leaving her post, she will travel to her native Argentina to take a break and spend some time with her parents. And that’s just the beginning of her new life, she says. After Argentina, she will travel to Africa and attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. “I will then relocate for a while in Mallorca, where I will help a Polo Ranch launch their communications strategy.”

Zabalua-GoddardDuring her tenure, Zabalúa-Goddard led all AARP’s bilingual communications efforts with the creation of an expansive platform of multimedia properties (print, radio, online) that today reach millions of U.S. Hispanics -in Spanish and English.

Among her achievements at the organization, Zabalúa-Goddard turned a bilingual newsletter into an award-winning magazine and a series of weekly radio spots into AARP’s first daily, national radio show. Under her leadership, the AARP en español website also broke traffic records.

Kika Rocha has left her post as Beauty and Fashion Director for People en Español. Her last day was May 3.

kikaRocha

In a note to staff members, People en Español Editor Armando Correa wrote: “After 10 fruitful years as our Fashion and Beauty Director, María “Kika” Rocha has decided to leave People en Español to continue her career on television, develop her blog, and promote her forthcoming line of designer bags.” In the same note, Correa introduced Úrsula Carranza, a former editor of Siempre Mujer, as the magazine’s new Fashion and Beauty Director.

During her 10-year tenure at People en Español, Rocha evolved to become a brand of her own and a sort of Hispanic ambassador to all things beauty & fashion.

In addition to her job at the magazine, she has been a fashion consultant for shows on Univision, Telemundo and CNN en Español, and has hosted some of the most important fashion and celebrity events in the Hispanic world, including the Latin Grammys, Premios lo Nuestro and the Latin Billboard Awards.

Rocha also writes a daily blog, DeTacones.com. She is a very active member of the Twitter community, where she counts almost 75,000 followers and where she shares her beauty and fashion tips using the hashtag #tipsdekika.

The General Manager of Terra Mexico, Gerardo Adame has been tapped to lead operations in the U.S. Hispanic market. He replaces Fernando Rodriguez, who held the top position in Terra U.S. for over a decade.

Gerardo Adame
Gerardo Adame

In an interview with Portada, Terra Global CEO Paulo Castro said the move is part of a broader plan that includes organizing operations into regions, rather than by country. In January, for example, Terra appointed Roberto Barroso as head of the Cono Sur region, leading Terra in both Chile and Argentina.

“We need to be more efficient as a global company,” Castro said about the new management structure. Adame will continue to be based in Mexico City, but as Castro said, “He will be traveling a lot.”

About the departure of Rodriguez, a former Telefónica executive and long-time Terra US head, Castro said: “Fernando was without a doubt very important in the development of Terra in the U.S.” But, he added, these changes reflect the need to compete more efficiently. “Gerardo Adame is the right person for the job; he is an experienced professional and I am sure that he will do an excellent job in the U.S.,” said Castro.

Prior to joining Terra in 2000, Adame was Chief Operations Officer at Infosel Financiero in Mexico City. He is a native of Mexico and a graduate of the Monterrey Technological Institute of Higher Education.

Ken Muench

Ken Muench (left) and Jeff Fox have left their respective posts at Draftfcb to launch Collider, a strategic marketing consultancy in California.

Collider, which Muench describes as a consultancy that “connects brands to culture through insights, ideas and innovation,” officially opened on Monday, and it did so with a big client: Taco Bell, which is hosting the new partners at their Irvine, California headquarters before they move to a new office in Santa Ana.

“My departure [from Draft] was cool. It was not bitter at all,” Muench tells Portada. In fact, Taco Bell will continue to do its creative work with Draft, but is already working with Collider in several innovation and strategic marketing projects.

“We do not offer creative services, so we have a very neutral position, and do not compete with advertising agencies,” says Muench, who prior to joining Draftfcb worked at Grupo Gallegos and Casanova Pendrill.

Collider is launching with a staff of 5, including Muench, Fox and 3 planners. The new offices, where the partners plan to move to in a few weeks, are strategically located in an up and coming neighborhood in Santa Ana: Next door to a gay & lesbian bar and upstairs from a tortería.

A day after a comprehensive introduction to the economic opportunity of Brazil, the Latin American Advertising & Media Summit on Wednesday opened the discussion around the opportunities -and challenges- surrounding yet another Latin American colossus: Mexico.

Country Focus: Mexico featured Jorge Laverde, Marketing Head of Latin America North of Nokia; Gerardo Llanes, CMO of the Mexico Tourism Board, and John Price, managing director, Americas Market Intelligence, who took the opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by the newly inaugurated President, Enrique Peña Nieto.

While panelists agreed that Mexico still faces many challenges, namely the growing violence fueled by the increasingly powerful drug-lords, they also said to be bullish about the country.

“Mexico is everybody’s bet in the next 5 years,” said Price, who has studied Mexico and is considered an expert in Latin American markets.

Yet, one has to be cautious and avoid overhyping an economy. “Overhyping an economy can make money leave with the push of a button,” said Llanes, from the Mexico Tourism Board. “We have to beware the capital golondrino (speculative, hot money,) which can be a serious risk. […] We need more companies investing in plants, in factories;  that is productive capital that stays in a country.”

The panel was moderated by Santiago Durán, Digital & Catalyst Director of Havas Media Mexico who took the stage wearing a “Se Habla Digit@l” T-shirt. Durán asked the panel to weigh in on the recent telecom reform in Mexico, a move that doesn’t necessarily spell good news in a country dominated by two huge media monopolies. “I’m not sure you can have the most powerful companies end their monopoly by letting one [Televisa] have some phone business and the other [Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso] have some TV,” said Llanes. “I’m afraid we will have two bigger monopolies.”

On the positive side, the panelists highlighted the digitization of Mexicans and their growing access to the Internet. “We have seen a higher penetration of Smartphones in the last 2 to 3 years,” said Nokia’s Laverde.

In addition to growing mobile access, the panel praised a government push to increase the number of Mexicans connected to the web to 60 million people, compared to 40 million today.

Microsoft, Burger King, Grupo Copesa and Starcom MediaVest Group converged Wednesday morning in Miami to discuss how advertisers and brand marketers in Latin America are using -or not- technologies to purchase media more efficiently.

The discussion kicked off with moderator Marcelo Montefiore, owner of Global Mind, asking panelist to discuss whether they employ advertising technologies, including programmatic buying, as part of their media buying efforts.

“Programatic buying is still slow, because advertisers and agencies are not sharing a lot of information,” said Diego Fernandez, director of media and digital North America, Burger King Corporation. “But I think the next couple of years are going to be very important and we’ll see more of it.”

But for a marketer like Microsoft, even programmatic buying and other such technologies are not to be treated as a priority. In fact, said Microsoft’s Axel Steinman, new technologies don’t solve the bigger, more structural problem in the industry: The lack of consensus to use data and metrics smartly. “Many of us are just trying to acquire the wrong impressions doing the wrong things and that’s a bigger problem,” said Steinman. Microsoft, which spends 50% of its advertising money in digital, is still in a learning process. The key, he said, is to agree on the metrics. “It would be wonderful if as an industry we can sit down and agree on something.”

Speaking about digital media, panelists agreed that while digital advertising has the advantage of delivering great metrics, it also becomes a liability, when advertisers then demand other media (TV or radio) to provide the same type of ROI.

With Latin America growing at an average 4%, panelists were asked to discuss the impact of such a growth in mobile marketing and advertising. Yet, the consensus was the region still lags behind. “Forget mobile. We’re still weak in online advertising,” acknowledged Max Sichel, CEO of Chile’s Grupo Copesa. “I think it’s going to take 4 or 5 years for [online advertising] to be a bit higher.”

Doing business in Brazil is not only good business, but very rewarding. Alas, it is no easy feat.

At least, that was the consensus during an afternoon session at the last day of the Latin American Advertising & Media Summit in Miami, where panelists, Brazilians and non-Brazilians, shared some light on what to do  -and not do- when doing business in Brazil.

“Brazil is very rewarding, but it is really difficult,” said Mario Cordon, the Guatemala-born CMO of Open English. “There are a lot of similarities with the U.S., but there are also lots of differences too.” Cordon, whose web-based course of English has been a success in Brazil, said doing business in the country is unlike doing business in the rest of Latin America. “Sometimes Brazil feels like a different continent; a place that just happens to be in Latin America.”

Other panelists included Gastón Taratuta, the CEO of IMS Corporate, a digital marketing agency that does work for high-profile American companies, including Twitter and Netflix. Taratuta, who is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English, also spoke of the differences between Brazilians and the rest of Latin America, and while he said speaking Portuguese is crucial to succeed there, the single most important thing is to find the right management team to operate locally.

Other piece of advice came from Diego Terán, managing director of MEC. “Brazil is not really one market. If you launch in Brazil, you have to pick your region; it’s more like doing business in the U.S.”

Panelists also touched on media and how Brazil -along with Argentina and Mexico- continue to be a TV-centric market. In Brazil, said Taratuta, 60 cents of every media dollar is taken by Globo; and Internet advertising has grown mostly because Globo didn’t want to focus on digital. An example on how small, dynamic agencies are helping change this landscape is IMS itself. According to Taratuta, when Netflix entered Brazil, it was going to allocate 80% of their media on TV and 20% in digital. “In the end, they ended up doing the opposite: 80% on digital and 20% on TV,” he said.

Among the advantages cited by the panelists of doing business in Brazil:

  • High-penetration of credit and debit cards
  • Brazilians are tech-savvy
  • High-penetration and adoption of Smartphones
  • Several important cities, not just one like in many Latin American Countries.
  • e-commerce is well developed
  • Brazilians are leapfrogging, skipping the landline and going straight to mobile; skipping PCs and going to tablets

 

The Latin Content Marketing Forum came to a close Tuesday afternoon with a presentation from Javier Farfán, the Senior Director of Cultural Branding for Pepsi, who introduced attendees to ‘Cultural Fluency’ and how Pepsi uses ‘cool content’ to engage audiences.

As part of his introduction, Farfán reminded the audience that Pepsi (under his leadership) was the first to bring reggaetón to the U.S. “We discovered Daddy Yankee, Wisin & Yandel, etc. when many people thought U.S. Latinos didn’t want to be a part of it,” Farfán told a full house at this week’s Latin Content Marketing Forum in Miami.

Pepsi Co.’s insights are not only based on ‘coolness’ but on hard data as well: Based on current data, Latinos will be a definite force driving culture in the U.S. and the shift in population trends only means marketers have to rethink the way they connect, interact and respond.

“We are going after millennials,” says Farfán. “And by ‘we’ I mean ‘we’ not me. We [marketers] must adopt a more dynamic cross-cultural mindset.”

In presenting Pepsi’s new mindset, which has to do with avoiding separating consumers into “ethnic” groups, Farfán said: “We must move from segregating ethnic groups to celebrating commonalities.”

What makes all this possible is what Farfán calls ‘cultural fluency,’ meaning a way in which a brand can create a really cool thing by diving in, and participating in it, not only sponsoring a program.

For marketers attending the forum, Farfán had a few words of wisdom:

  • -Build affordable, sustainable content strategy (focus on what you stand for as a brand, your pov)
  • -Be a platform for action (inspire people todo)
  • -Be useful (curate content they really care about. Talk about people not products) get people to like, love and want to participate
  • -Meet audiences where they are (make sharing simple, syndicate, go mobile)

He offered plenty of examples, but to name a few: Sierra Mist’s partnership with Mexican chef Aaron Sanchez to create content, in English and Spanish, that will drive audiences to a YouTube page featuring Sanchez cooking Mexican food.

Another, more recent example is Brisk Bodega, a program born in Los Angeles targeting Latino and urban youth featuring radio personality Chuey Martinez @Chueymartinez and filmed entirely in East Los Angeles.

Portada’s Latin American Advertising & Media Summit kicked off Tuesday afternoon with a keynote presentation -and interview- with Claudio Ferreira, the publisher of Veja Magazine, the world’s second largest magazine after Time and one of dozens of titles published by Brazil’s Grupo Abril.

Ferreira warned the audience: “My Portuguese is better than my English,” and so he proceded to present entirely in Portuguese. The panel was simultaneously translated into English.

During a one-hour presentation, Ferreira presented some staggering statistics about Brazil’s economic power as the world’s fifth largest economy and highlighted opportunities for brand marketers surrounding the upcoming Olympic Games and the all-too-important FIFA World Cup in 2014.

“We are about to surpass England as the 5th largest advertising spender in the world,” said Ferreira. “I’m sure the Queen is not going to be very happy about that. All we have to do now is win the world cup.”

Among Brazil’s fun facts presented by Ferreira:

  • Sao Paulo is the only capital in the world with more than one Tiffany store
  • Brazil has 264 million mobile phones; 16.1 million of those are Smartphones
  • Brazil is now #7 in number of international events hosted per year…. 3.6 million tourists are expected to this year’s Confederations Cup
  • Veja is the world’s 2nd largest weekly news magazine (after @Time)
  • Veja’s parent company, Grupo Abril, launched 52 apps in 2013; 3.8 million downloads…. Grupo Abril

A midmorning panel at the Latin Content Marketing Forum included two journalists and a marketer (Ford) who came together to talk about the role of the journalists in the age of content marketing. Moderated by NAMIC’s President & CEO Nicole Turner-Lee, the panel featured Fusion’s Managing Editor and Features Editor Nuria Net, Alberto Collazo, Ford Communications, and Emilio Sanchez, President and Editor in Chief of VOXXI.

Both journalists, Net and Sánchez agreed on the changes going on in the market and how reporters and editors can coexist with brand marketing… As long as it is creative, and creates an actually conversation with their audience.

“Five years ago I would have been totally against [content marketing,]” said Net, one of the first hires and pioneers of Fusion, the ABC News/Univision network scheduled to launch later this year. “But now, you have websites like BuzzFeed, which are using content marketing in very smart ways and realize everybody wins. The brands win, media companies win, and consumers win, because it is valuable information.”

Alberto Collazo, responsible for Hispanic communications in the U.S., chimed in to talk about the importance of journalists and bloggers for a brand like Ford, which strives to connect with U.S. Latinos. It is difficult, he acknowledges, because they have to walk a fine line but in the end it’s all about the content.

Content marketing also calls for a radical change in which editors view content, and do away with the conventional ways of doing things in the past. Sanchez, a former director of news for EFE, recalled the case of a young VOXXI reporter, who said wanted to voice his opinion in stories and didn’t really know what the AP Stylebook was or why he even needed to know that.

Overall, though, panelists agreed that the times are changing and journalists must adapt and in some cases work alongside a brand to produce compelling content, which in turn will be beneficial for such a brand.

“There is no longer shame in going to the dark side,” said Net. “We have now more resources and can do a very good job.” But, she had a piece of advice for marketers: “We are journalists, we are here to inform not to sell. Don’t make me write a review of your product and pay me for it.”

Hispanics might represent 16% of the U.S. population, but they account for a whopping 32% of the audiences that have rushed to see Fast and Furious 6 since it opened in May 24. By June 1, the Universal franchise had collected an estimated $146.3 million in the U.S. box office alone, according to Box Office Mojo.

Universal has made a point to include a diverse cast to its Fast and Furious 6 franchise, including Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez (photo) and has employed specific marketing tactics to appeal to multicultural audiences. In the case of U.S. Hispanics, in addition to including a diverse cast, the film also features a good dose of Spanish-language dialogues, and was promoted across platforms with teasers and trailers in Spanish and using promotional stunts in top Hispanic markets.
Courting Hispanics to the big screen seems like a lucrative proposition for Hollywood studios. According to a Nielsen report earlier this year, Latinos represent 18% of the moviegoing population in the U.S., yet they account for 25% of all tickets sold. What’s more: Hispanics were also the only demographic group that went to more movies in 2012 than in the prior year: 9.5 movies on average compared with 8:5 in 2011.

In this day and age, merely looking at television ratings is no longer enough to understand the engagement of viewers with a specific program or TV event. This was the case of Sunday’s (May 26) historic match between Mexico’s Club América and Cruz Azul, in which the former was crowned winner of the 2013 Liga MX Clausura season.

The match not only broke ratings records for the Univision Network, where it aired starting at 8:50 PM/ET, but made it the No. 1 most social broadcast network regardless of language, according to SocialGuide, a company that tracks TV audience engagement on social networks. The Liga MX final, per SocialGuide, had more social engagement than TNT’s NBA Miami Heat vs. Indian Pacers game – delivering more tweets per unique.

Overall, the Liga MX final on Sunday night made Univision the No. 1 broadcast network in primetime among Adults 18-34, beating ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.

Additionally, among Adults 18-49, the final was the most watched Liga MX match on Univision since 2011 in four out of the Top 5 Hispanic markets – Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Dallas.

Dan Marino and Emilio Estefan are brand ambassadors of AARP's Life Reimagined
Dan Marino and Emilio Estefan

AARP today is officially launching LifeReimagined, an online destination aimed at helping the 50-plus demographic reinvent themselves with tools and advice for career, health and relationships.

The website is free for anyone who registers and not just for AARP’s 37 million members nationwide. The effort includes the creation of the Life Reimagined Institute, an “incubator of transformational processes, methodologies and insights housing  the world’s leading experts in personal development, aging and transitions.”

The advocacy group held an event Tuesday night in Manhattan, featuring two of the program’s brand ambassadors: Former football star Dan Marino and music/entertainment mogul Emilio Estefan, who mingled with a group of bloggers and spoke of their careers and life experiences. The event was co-organized by Miami-based ad agency República and AARP’s Hispanic agency of record, d’expósito & Partners of New York.

LifeReimagined is the latest in a series of programs undertaken by AARP to rebrand -or reimagine- itself: “We don’t want to be seen merely as an organization for the elderly,” said Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, executive vice president for Multicultural Markets & Engagement at AARP. “We are innovative; we are cool and we want to show it.”

The website is currently only available in English, but AARP confirmed it will soon include a “special landing page” in Spanish.

 

Netflix has hired Kari Perez as Senior Manager for Corporate Communications and Publicity in Latin America, Portada has learned.

Perez, a former manager at HBO Latin America, will help Netflix build its brand throughout Latin America. An official announcement has not yet been made. Perez will be based in California and reports to SVP of Corporate Communications Jonathan Friedland.

Prior to joining Netflix, Perez held the Public Relations and Corporate Affairs Manager position at HBO for Latin America since 2009, according to her LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, she was Senior Corporate Relations Associate for Visa Inc. Latin America and Caribbean Region.

Perez initiated her career at a GCI Group, a PR Agency in Mexico City and has more than 10 years of experience in the technology, financial services and entertainment industries.

UPDATE: The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. has issued a statement about this story.

A New York City grassroots group known as “Boricuas for a Positive Image” is mounting a campaign demanding MillerCoors to stop using the Puerto Rican flag in the beer cans being distributed around the city to promote the upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The cans of Coor’s Light, which is being marketed as the official beer of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, feature the parade organization’s logo and includes the colors of the Puerto Rican flag. This, the grassroots group says, “places a price tag on our flag, our dignity, pride and history.”

In addition, Puerto Ricans are outraged about the image of their flag being associated with an alcoholic beverage. Among latino populations, Puerto Ricans have the highest rate of alcoholic dependence. What’s more, this year’s parade theme –“Salud–Celebrating Your Health”– is not perceived as corresponding to alcohol consumption.

Other corporate sponsors of this year’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade include Goya, JetBlue, Univision 41, and Banco Popular.

Over Memorial weekend, both Univision and DNAInfo spoke to East Harlem City Councilor Melissa Mark-Viverito, who said the use of the flag in Coor’s Light beer cans was “disrespectful.”

MillerCoors did not respond to emails seeking for comment. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade issued the following statement Tuesday evening:

“The mark in the promotion of Coors Light is NOT the Puerto Rican flag, NOR the logo of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.  It is an artwork created exclusively for this campaign, that integrates elements of the Parade’s symbol such as an apple, a star, and red, white, blue, and black colors. We call on community leaders to clear this misunderstanding, and stop misguidedly telling the public that the Puerto Rican flag has been posted on beer cans, something that the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. would NEVER authorize”.

McDonald’s USA wanted to get a jumpstart on its sponsorship of the 2014 FIFA WorldCup in Brazil, so the company’s marketing team thought a good idea would be to launch an online sweepstakes engaging soccer-loving Hispanics with the brand and have them compete for a Grand Prize: Three VIP trips for 2 people to the soccer tournament in Brazil next year.

The sweepstakes, which launches today, consists of a bilingual website, which is supported by social media avenues, including a Twitter sweepstakes. More importantly, an initiative which was led by the Hispanic marketing team, quickly became a systemwide activation, involving several agencies that work with McDonald’s nationwide: Hispanic advertising shop Alma DDB of Miami; brand activation agency The Marketing Store, in Chicago; PR firm VPE of Los Angeles and ARC Worldwide, also from Chicago.

“What’s phenomenal is that this [sweepstakes] started as a Hispanic-led initiative, but it evolved systemwide,” Cristina Vilella, Director of Marketing at McDonald’s USA, tells Portada.

McDonald’s has been the exclusive restaurant sponsor of FIFA World Cup since 1994, and while it has launched many sweepstakes in the past, the one launching today is unique in the sense that it does not involve a mass TV or radio media buy component, but it is mostly driven by the web.

In addition to the sweepstakes, McDonald’s will be airing a soccer-themed commercial (below) developed by Alma DDB, which is airing in English and Spanish nationwide:

AUTISM Speaks, the autism advocacy organization, this week is launching a new public service advertising (PSA) campaign aimed at Hispanic and African-American parents. The campaign features :30 spots in English and Spanish and was developed by BBDO and LatinWorks of Austin, Tex., both part of the Omnicom Group.

The campaign targets these two groups specifically because it has been documented that the current age of diagnosis among low income families, as well as African Americans and Hispanics, is higher than the general public.

According to the CDC, the average age of diagnosis is 4-5 years, but a reliable autism diagnosis can be made as early as 18-24 months.

In addition to the PSA’s, the campaign includes a link to a Spanish-language page helping parents identify the early signs of autism in their children.

New York City-based advertising agency Wing has launched an online campaign aimed at increasing awareness and educate millennials about AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

The pro-bono campaign, for the non-for-profit Red Hot Organization, includes a hidden camera stunt in which a young, attractive female walks into a bar and exchanges phone numbers with young men. Upon leaving the bar, each man starts receiving hundreds of text messages detailing her sexual history – from various partners. “Robert, I slept with her once;” or “We did it three times in college;” and “I cheated on her.” A final, reminder text message says: “Don’t get more than their number. Protect yourself.”

The video (watch it below) puts a spin on the singles scene and its preferred method of communication, text messaging, to demonstrate that choosing a new sex partner puts you in contact with all their previous partners. The video is in English, but it can be seen in Spanish by clicking on the Closed Captions (CC) link at the bottom of the video.