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Exclusive Interview with Undertone’s Victor Cornejo: We Should Prioritize Multicultural Marketing

Portada talked to Victor Cornejo, Director of Multicultural Strategy for Undertone, about his thoughts on the importance of multicultural marketing and what he has accomplished in the past year and a half. 


What: Portada talked to Victor Cornejo, Director of Multicultural Strategy for Undertone, about his thoughts on the importance of multicultural marketing and what he has accomplished in the past year and a half.
Why it matters: Cornejo has encouraged Undertone and its clients to embrace and prioritize multicultural marketing.

Undertone’s Victor Cornejo

As Director of Multicultural Strategy for Undertone, Victor Cornejo has accomplished much in his year-and-a-half tenure. Helping to build a new team from the ground up, Cornejo has encouraged Undertone and its brand and agency clients to embrace multicultural marketing and prioritize this growing consumer demographic.

“Nothing excites me more than when someone on our team tells me about a client who remarks that everything Undertone is known for is done equally well for multicultural audiences. Our creative and relationships with our publishers are unique in the marketplace and no one in the space can do the same,” said Cornejo.

Portada got a chance to catch up with Victor on what he has been up to, here’s what we found out…

Portada: Can you explain your role at Undertone? What were you brought on to build?

Victor Cornejo: My role as Director of Multicultural Strategy is to ensure that Undertone clients understand that they can leverage the amazing creative work we do to effectively reach multicultural consumers.

Undertone has been a major player in the ad-tech space for over 17 years and had already been doing some multicultural work, however, we’ve now added a dedicated team to focus specifically on reaching multicultural consumers. Today, Hispanic consumers represent 17.6% of the U.S. population and are outpacing all other groups in growth. Given the unprecedented growth, this segment represents sustainable growth for all categories and cannot be an afterthought.

Our specialized team was brought on to support the entire Undertone organization to help bring our clients strategic multicultural solutions, as well as to help establish connections between Undertone and the best multicultural media planners, creative agencies, and clients. We’ve done all of this while also helping our amazing Publisher Development team build the largest premium, brand-safe network in the marketplace.

Portada: How has the role of creativity changed in the past 10 years? How has that informed your role at Undertone?

V.C.: Overall, I feel that creativity has been forced to evolve and adapt to new technologies and social realms while breaking through the increased clutter, noise, and consumer skepticism. In addition, increased pressure exists to prove performance across all channels. It is only getting harder for brands to tell cohesive stories that win the hearts and minds of consumers across all channels.

This challenge is even more difficult in the multicultural space. For example, a first-generation Hispanic could see a brand message in English when visiting their local news channel’s website and then see the same message in Spanish when they visit a Spanish-language website featuring content for Latina moms. As such, brands have to ask themselves questions like, “are we telling this person our story consistently and in the best possible way?” and “does a unique insight exist that could make the communication even more relevant?” That’s why we work collaboratively with our clients to ensure we’re looking at the full opportunity. We maximize our knowledge by leveraging existing client intelligence assets and data while triangulating it to our data and then identifying consumer insights that enable us to optimize creative and messaging.

Portada: How important is it for marketers to understand how to create specific creative executions for a specific platform—rather than a one size fits all approach? How are you educating clients here?

V.C.: It’s extremely important to have a deep understanding of the purpose of each platform and to ensure the right content is being developed and executed for each one. Just like you would never simply cut and paste a design for an out-of-home billboard into a digital ad unit, it can’t be assumed all content works the same across every platform. What does work across all platforms without exception, however, is a strong concept or idea. If the idea is strong enough, a message can be tailored for each platform, including customized versions, which can then be tested and optimized according to performance. That’s the beauty of digital—our consumers will let us know immediately if they like it or not. If a brand is not willing to consider what works best on each platform, money is not being spent wisely. You may not need to be everywhere. Don’t force it.

Portada: Do you believe the advertising industry is doing a good job activating cross-cultural campaigns? Why or why not?

V.C.: Some brands are doing a great job. Specifically, CPG, soft drinks, telecom, and some QSR brands are doing the best jobs at this. You can tell it’s the best because the brands stay true to themselves and are willing to tell their brand story in the most relevant way for each audience. They’re also investing at the appropriate levels, which can sometimes be the biggest challenge. The industry has grown in this sense, but we’re nowhere near where it should be.

Portada: Are there any specific pieces of work that you have done with Undertone recently that were a success in this realm?

V.C.: We recently completed campaigns for Avocados from Mexico. There’s no doubt that their brand team has been doing an incredible job of building that brand over the last few years. What made our campaigns a success was the ability to work in unison with the creatives at their creative agency, Richards/Lerma, as well as their media agency RO2 media. They provided us with the creative vision and assets and then we took those assets and brought them to life in our proprietary ad units and distributed them across our network. The work was in English and Spanish, and we let the consumer tell us, through their engagement, what they liked. The consumer feedback and insights will be leveraged for the next campaign.

Portada: Where do you see your field heading in the future?

V.C.: Identifying multicultural audiences, quantifying their role in brand growth, and leveraging data around this audience the right way is going to be the future of whom a brand communicates to and how they do it. I firmly believe we’ll see multicultural insights play a more important role at the early stages of campaign and strategy development and all of the work will be better and perform better as a result.  It’s an absolute inevitability. Content becomes great when authentic and real multicultural insights are there from the get-go. Just ask the studios behind Coco or Crazy Rich Asians.

Portada: What are you most looking forward to doing/seeing/hearing at Portada NYC 2018?

To be honest, I’m really looking forward to the conversation between our President Mike Pallad and Susan Schiekofer, Chief Digital Investment Officer for GroupM. I believe the issue of transparency and ad fraud are the greatest threats to multicultural campaign’s smaller budgets, so I’m interested in hearing about what one of our media partners is doing to address that and what more could be done.


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