Even though Hispanics spend close to US $15 billion a year on prescription drugs, media targeting Spanish-speaking audiences has not been able to capture sizable advertising revenues. This is particularly true of print advertising (see page 14). Spending by drug giants such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Aventis and Novartis tops $5 billion in the general market. But these companies spend only a few million on Hispanic print media.

Ad sales representatives and publishers approaching large pharmaceutical firms are often discouraged to find that there are no Hispanic specific print ads available and no creative team to market them, or, if ads do exist, that they have not yet gone through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval process. Pharmaceutical marketers are not the only ones to blame for the lack of pharmaceutical advertising targeting Hispanics. Until recently, publishers have not considered pharmaceutical companies a major source of ad revenues. According to Amelie Ferro, VP of business development at Leading Hispanic Media (LHM), a Miami based print media sales representation firm, “when we started talking to publishers, we realized that certain ad categories, like pharma, were very under-represented. So LHM will be our partner papers' exclusive representative in Pharma and other under-developed ad categories.”

Publishers fill the gap

Publishers have begun to recognize an opportunity in the pharma niche and are busy launching new publications. Diabetes Forecast en español was launched by the American Diabetes Association in January 2004. Publisher Peter Banks points out that the Hispanic market's size and purchasing power, coupled with high rates of diseases – like diabetes – among Hispanics, make this market very important for pharma advertisers. “We saw a desperate need to reach Hispanic Americans with information about preventing and treating diabetes. About 50% of Latino children born today will get diabetes unless they adopt healthier eating and exercise habits.” The quarterly publication brings contains culturally focused articles in English and Spanish, both original and adapted from Diabetes Forecast. “Profiles of Hispanic celebrities who have or are involved with health issues are very popular. We've profiled fitness author Jorge Cruise and TV star Don Francisco,” says Banks.

In January of 2002, the AARP launched the bilingual publication AARP-Segunda Juventud. The quarterly publication reaches approximately 600,000 Hispanic households and plans to increase frequency to bimonthly with its February/March 2005 issue.

Other publications specifically targeting the pharma and health advertising category include Nueva Salud (circ. 1.5 million) and Toda Mujer (rate base 500,000). Nueva Salud, a quarterly magazine scheduled to launch during the first quarter of 2005, targets health-conscious Hispanics. The publication is published as a joint venture between Laureti Media Group and Papel Media Network and inserted in Spanish-language newspapers belonging to Papel Media's newspaper network. Papel Media Network sells ROP and pre-printed inserts (FSIs) through a network of 450 Hispanic newspapers with a combined circulation of over 14 million.

Toda Mujer, a twice yearly women's health magazine for Latinas, was launched in December 2003 by Profile Pursuit Inc., a subsidiary of Profile Media Group, a London based media group that specializes in custom publishing. Toda Mujer, published in June and December, provides Latina patients with research and practice-based information concerning women's health. Toda Mujer is the Spanish-language edition of Every Woman, although more than 50% of its content is original. By adopting a controlled distribution approach, Toda Mujer and its sister publication Every Woman, are distributed by close to 2,000 nurse practitioners and nurse midwives, through a partnership with the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), the largest nursing association in the U.S.

The need to educate advertisers

Leading Hispanic Media's Amelie Ferro says that pharma advertisers need to learn more about the Hispanic market. “We are compiling research that will help us educate pharmaceutical companies about the Hispanic population and why print is such a great vehicle to reach them,” says Ferro. According to Ferro, this includes debunking myths about the media consumption habits of the Hispanic population and making pharma companies aware of the characteristics that make Hispanics a good target audience. “Hispanics do read. They're over-consumers of prescription and over-the-counter products and they have more kids and are more likely to take care of elderly family members.”

According to Diabetes Forecast en español's Banks, print media should be a major part of the media mix. “It consistently has higher ROI than other types of media for health-related advertising,” says Banks, adding that the recent experience of Vioxx and Celebrex, which relied heavily on mass market broadcast advertising, may make federal regulators take a hard look at broadcast media for direct-to-consumer drug advertising. In print, the uses and possible side effects of drugs can be more clearly spelled out. Banks cautions that “Hispanics like a rich media mix and many rely on radio. An ideal marketing plan would include both print and broadcast.”


“Overall, the Hispanic community is not as far along the preventive health curve as the general market,” says Sonya Suarez-Hammond, director of the research company Yankelovich and previously director of Global Healthcare and Pharmaceutical at Global Works. “Also, cultural and economic constraints often prevent Hispanic consumers from investing in their health care, particularly if symptoms do not exist.”

An important obstacle for pharma advertising is the fact that a large number of Hispanics do not have insurance or drug coverage. According to the Census Bureau, the number of Hispanics without coverage increased from 12.8 million to 13.2 million in 2003. 32.7% remained with coverage.
“Obviously, it is a major concern that health insurance coverage is such a problem for so many Hispanics,” says Diabetes Forecast en español's Banks. He adds that under-use of prescription drugs by Hispanics does not have a single cause. Lack of affordability, lack of access to care, as well as cultural factors such as reliance on folk remedies can all play a role. “It's definitely a challenge, but one that can be met with Spanish-language educational materials about effective drug use,” says Banks.


“Hispanics have less exposure to the many health messages that exist. There are far fewer Spanish-language healthcare and prescription drug advertising messages than in the general market,” says Yankelovich's Suarez-Hammond. This explains why many Hispanics are not very familiar with prescription drugs. According to a recent survey by Telemundo, 57% of Hispanics had heard of Lipitor, compared with 94% of non-Hispanics. And just 35% of Hispanics had heard of Zocor, compared with 90% of non-Hispanics.

The Yankelovich Monitor Multicultural Marketing Study released in November 2003 offers some insights into Latinos' exposure and reaction to pharma advertising. According to the study, 60% of all Hispanics surveyed responded yes to “have seen or heard advertisements from prescription drug manufacturers,” compared to 58% of African Americans and 83% of non-Hispanic Whites.

The Yankelovich study also revealed that 81% of all Hispanics surveyed “have taken a prescription medication in the past year,” compared to 86% of African Americans and 91% of non-Hispanic Whites. “Hispanics tend to have more respect for doctors than the average American. This also means that they come for counsel and advice and not with a particular product in mind,” says Vera Maitinsky, a local pediatrician in Long Island, NY. This is partly because there is less advertising directed at Hispanics, but also because of cultural factors related to the positive image of doctors among Hispanics.

Different disease profiles



Experienced coughs during the last 6 months



Report muscle pain

2.5 times more than non- Hispanics


Incidence of high blood pressure



Diabetes and Cholesterol

Higher cholesterol and diabetes risk

Lower cholesterol and diabetes risk

Heartburn and acid indigestion

Four times more than non- Hispanics


Source: AC Nielsen Homescan Hispanic Panel, Los Angeles


Portada Staff

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