It all starts with a state of the art website. To be ready to advertise and promote your product, our site has to be top notch. Website design and website usability are crucial when it comes to convert Latin Internet users into buyers. This article looks at best practices on how to design corporate websites and promote community aspects and brand loyalty among Hispanics and Latin American consumers. Converse, a shoe manufacturer, recently implemented a below the line marketing campaign targeting 35-40 million young Latin American adults online. The campaign was designed to turn Converse's country-specific websites into social networking destinations for the young and connected. It allowed Converse fans to customize their shoes.

Turning Company Websites into Social Networking Sites The goal of Converse PLAY was to create “cool content” for the Converse fans: simple and entertaining ideas to be delivered on the Internet that serve to “inspire creativity”. Miami based Advertising Agency “La Comunidad” developed 40 original pieces of content to be posted on the Converse sites in Latin America in a section of each site called Play 2 Target. Converse wanted this section of the website to be a creative outlet for their fans, and for the creative content specifically not to be branded with the Converse logo. In other words, the campaign was designed to turn Converse’s country-specific websites into social networking destinations for the young and connected. Realizing that fans of Converse shoes are very individualistic and have artistic sensibilities, the brand has a number of ways to cultivate that in its fans—allowing them to customize their shoes and incorporating fun content for fans to explore when they are on the Converse site. So involving La Comunidad with its deep roots in the art and creative communities, each  video or interactive piece (:30 to :90) needed to be relevant to a fan of Converse to inspire within them optimistic rebellion and individualistic creativity. Instead of just passively watching a piece of media, the viewer would be inspired to go create something on their own. Videos In addition to the videos created by La Comunidad, the agency also reached out to the independent artist community and had these artists submit their own interesting and compelling :30 to :90 pieces of their own design, which added considerably to the diversity of thought and inspiration communicated through the project. There was no media bought to promote the project. This was an entirely new take on “marketing” to the younger crowd that lives its life in the digital screen. With the rise of YouTube, video has become an important means of communication for a certain generation. Separate from traditional consumer outreach, Converse sought to make deeper connections with the fans of the brand, making their website a destination for their target young and connected audience.

When watching the videos, viewers are not just entertained —they are inspired to go out and round up their friends and pass along their own creative good vibes to the world. The idea is what matters, not the packaging. At the end, success is having something entertaining enough that inspires someone to share something of their own.

Another shoe manufacturer, Spain’s Camper, has designed a strategy focused on its website (www.camper.com) and a presence among the main social networks. The company targets the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets. It is also focusing efforts on promoting its online store (shop.camper.com).

To reach its target audience of lovers and consumers of Camper products, the brand is using all available media at its disposal, regardless of whether they are digital or not. However, “the interesting thing about the Internet is that it allows us to offer additional interactive content to build a better relationship between the brand and our audience.” In this area, the company believes it is essential to have good placement in search engines, as well as “combining niche presences with more conventional —though never massive— campaigns, to reach the kind of audience that shares our values,” the company’s Web Marketing Manager, Pere Quintana, tells Portada. No Church and State anymore… A big trend, and a part, where the (old fashioned?) church and state wall between editorial and advertising is being torn down are company websites which use bloggers to promote their products. It also can be called “onlinecustom publishing.” “Mommy blogers” which post comments at Procter & Gamble and General Mills websites are becoming very popular. While they usually are not paid by these companies, they do get “perks” in the form of products and travel tickets. Bloggers posts and comments and online contests often foster the community aspect at company’s websites, which often morph into social networking sites.

General Mills recently invited creative Latina cooks to share special recipes by participating in a new online cooking contest: La Receta De Mi Cocina (My Kitchen’s Recipe). “La Receta De Mi Cocina is a contest that celebrates creativity and tradition in the kitchen,” said Ursula Mejia- Melgar, editor of Qué Rica Vida, General Mills’ Spanish-language custom lifestyle magazine and website. “The winning recipes will not necessarily be complex or time consuming; more likely, they will be modernized versions of much-loved traditional dishes, edesigned for the busy Latina mom who loves to cook. Recipes can range from main courses and  side dishes to desserts, with each entry using at least one of Qué Rica Vida‘s 14 priority brands,  plus additional ingredients and serving ideas.” Procter & Gamble’s Crest for Spanish-language websites also has similar blogging and online contest components. Branded Entertainment Another promotional form fostered by the online medium is branded entertainment. Here the frontiers between editorial, public relations and advertising also become very fluid.

In 2009 Yahoo partnered with P&G to launch the DeModa site (http://espanol.blogs.mujer.yahoo.com/de-moda/), a site promoting style and fashion for Hispanic  women. DeModa is also active during 2010. Brand integration worked through online videos, premium product placement and theme specific blogs. Tapestry Multicultural in Chicago and MG’s Connected Tissue unit in NYC worked together with Yahoo!’s team. The production was done in Yahoo!’s Time Square NYC studios (which is used by “The Thread”, DeModa’s general market  ounterpart.) The site launch was a success with several hundred thousand unique users during the first months of the site, according to Adam Chandler, Executive Director of U.S. Sales, Partnerships and Emerging markets at Yahoo (he recently was appointed VP of East Coast sales of rich media provider Point Roll).

Pricing for branded entertainment sites like DeModa is typically done on a PM basis, where the advertiser buys a media schedule. Chandler says that his company did not get any complaints from users about lack of editorial integrity. While not at the same level in investment and frequency as in the general market, branded entertainment is one of the big opportunities in the Hispanic online advertising sector, according to Chandler.

Site Design Melds with Online Advertising Marcelo Salup, Media Director at Miami based DMG Solutions says “online is very dependent on two things: creative and site. When I worked on the launch of the Porsche Cayenne in Latin America we decided to try it without print at all and it worked really well. We used every tool we had available to us: flash, rich media, search, online video… you name it, we tried it. But, we also developed dozens of creative executions and had to analyze the campaign continuously. However, the campaign was very very successful and we beat all sales objectives. That same year e also launched Kingston Technology on the web and it was very successful, but not as crushing as the Cayenne, which also has to be in part a reflection of the product. Other campaigns I’ve been involved in have not been that amazing. With DIRECTV we are looking at how to incorporate tools like callback buttons, etc.”

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