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Impremedia, the leading Hispanic news and information company, and publisher of the two main newspapers in Spanish in the United States, La Opinión and El Diario, issued an open letter calling advertisers and media agencies to end the discrimination of Hispanics Audiences and the media serves that serves them.

The advertising investment in the Hispanic market in the US is only 6% of the total while Hispanics are almost 20% of the population. The ad allocation in Minority-Owned/Operated Media is even less than the mentioned 6%.

The investment made by mainstream advertisers, agencies, and corporations to ethnic media in the distribution of their advertising funds represents neither the importance of communities nor their economic contribution. US Hispanics alone have over 1.5 trillion of buying power. This is not translated into advertising.

The full text of the letter follows:

The worst in the COVID-19 crisis seems to be behind us. While the country has suffered greatly, the first signs of an economic awakening are visible.

During the long and terrible months of the pandemic, the print media, as a whole, lost staff positions, circulation, content and advertising. Many publications had to shut down. This left its mark on the national news landscape by depriving many communities of their primary sources of information.

The crisis has been especially cruel to the press in local ethnic communities, such as the ones served by Impremedia; with outlets including La Opinión in Los Angeles, El Diario in New York, La Raza in Chicago, and La Opinión de la Bahía in San Francisco, all of which owe their existence to a fundamental and organic link with the communities they serve.

For decades, newspapers like ours have been important tools for integrating immigrants into the United States, helping millions of newcomers become part of the American dream, and contributing to our country through their work, taxes and sacrifices. Latinos have become a group of increasing importance, represented in all spheres of the economy and government.

We’ve linked millions of readers to advertisers and the products and services they offer during all these years. We have done this by publishing advertisements on our pages.

This mission continues. And the economic, social and political problems our community has been subjected to have made it even more essential.

We must tell the truth: the crisis caused by the coronavirus has unfortunately accentuated a negative anomaly: The financial investment made by most mainstream advertisers, agencies and corporations to ethnic media in the distribution of their advertising funds has decreased significantly.

The meager fraction in those advertisement funds left for community ethnic media represents neither the importance of minorities nor the leading role that publications like ours and other Ethnic-Media represent. The advertising investment in the Hispanic market in the US is only 6% of the total when we are 19% of the population. The investment in Minority-Owned/Operated Media is even less than that. All this while Total buying power of the US Hispanic population is over $1.5 trillion, over 10% of the total.

Discrimination in Advertising

Specifically, they are reinvesting billions of dollars, but at an unacceptable rate, in the larger mainstream media, technology platforms and social media that targets US Hispanics but that is neither owned or operated by minorities.

That way, there will be those who say that advertisers are abandoning our community. There will be those who claim that they are adopting a discriminatory attitude or impervious to the fate of community media outlets. Even when those outlets are crucial for the very communities they say they want to reach.

Advertising invested in other minorities also turns out to be minimal and inadequate relative to the proportion of that community in the general population. Important media owned by African Americans have mounted a public and successful campaign exposing the roots of that abandonment. We sympathize with their effort and demand that the treatment of ethnic media by agencies and advertisers change.

The decline of local and community news media destroys the media outlets themselves and the vision of an open, comprehensive, and democratic society. A vision that corresponds to current demographic trends, where the percentage of Latinos grows throughout the country.

No one should forget: aquí estamos y no nos vamos; here we are and we are not leaving.

Advertisers open the door to accusations that they are abandoning Hispanic readers and customers by neglecting outlets like ours.

Just when many media and entities accuse advertisers and agencies of this, supporting companies like Impremedia would be a key sign of commitment to plurality and diversity.

It is time for them to reconsider the distribution of their advertising budgets without prejudice or discrimination and look towards the future.

What: Video ID technology company ZEFR has opened a division dedicated solely to the Hispanic market after closing a US$30 million fundraising round led by Institutional Venture Partners.
Why It Matters: As the Hispanic population grows to 17.4% of the total U.S. population and will account for more than half of country’s growth by 2020, U.S. Online Video and Ad-technology companies looking to expand their reach are investing in reaching this key demographic.

Article by Gretchen Gardner

Angie Correa
Angie Correa

ZEFR, a Los Angeles-based video identification technology company that uses its videoID™ technology to help brands target influencers and topics through video content on YouTube, manages 275 million videos and tracks 31 billion video views a month. In the wake of a US $30 million fundraising round led by Institutional Venture Partners, ZEFR has opened up a division dedicated solely to the US Hispanic market. We talked to Angie Correa, the company’s new National Strategy and Sales Director for the US Hispanic market, and a former Terra Networks USA Senior Sales Executive, about how the company decided to invest in this growing market and the strategy they plan to put in place to conquer it.

“The Hispanic population accounts for 17.4% of the total U.S. population and will account for more than half of the population growth in the country by 2020. There’s no denying the consumer power of Hispanics is massive,” said Correa. What’s more, the Hispanic market is anything but homogeneous, and ZEFR knows that different strategies will be required for the U.S. vs. foreign-born Hispanics, “as well as varying levels of cultural integration.”

There is a huge need in the market to bring new technology to improve the connection possible between brands and Hispanic consumers.

Technology ranks Social Influencers

And ZEFR has never been a company that shies away from the nuances of different markets –in fact, that’s what has made the company unique from the beginning, Correa claims. “ZEFR is centered on improving advertising by aligning the right brand message with the right content and/or influencer,” Correa said, and her team knows that Hispanic consumers’ taste is just as, if not more, nuanced as that of the general American public, identifying “a huge need in the market to bring new technology to improve the connection possible between brands and Hispanic consumers.”

ZEFRs technical expertise positions the company well to take on this challenge, as its IMS technology “ranks every Influencer across every social platform” and allows them to find the perfect candidates for each brand’s campaign needs. This is a different approach to talent management than that of many other MCNs, as they choose not to “own”  talent, but identify Influencers that want to work with brands and help build that organic relationship.

Honda Campaign

Correa is adamant that this approach “drives better results and deeper relationships between the Influencer, brand and ZEFR,” and pointed us to a campaign they ran with Honda called “A Space for Dreams.” The campaign made use of two important statistics related to the Hispanic market: Hispanics use YouTube heavily, and are also key to auto sales. Selecting two Hispanic YouTube Influencers, they filmed a “Day in the Life” vlog in which they regularly used Honda’s CRV.

The results were huge: record-setting sales and 80% more organic views than Honda had paid for originally. In Correa’s words, the campaign was successful because it “brought to life content that resonated with their followers.”

What defines good creative in the Hispanic market is the same as in any other market. And it’s often difficult to define. Everyone agrees that it cannot be reduced to specific design elements, colors or images. “The quickest way to offend any audience is to reduce it to a stereotype. No one will connect with a Hispanic audience by standardizing
on swirly typefaces and bright color palettes that seem to ‘look’ Hispanic,” explains Ronnie Lipton, multi-cultural marketing consultant and author of Designing Across Cultures (How Design Books, 2002). “Such symbols and elements will fail in most cases because they show the advertiser didn’t even try to understand the market’s depth and diversity.”

Many advertisers and publishers talk about cultural insight or understanding as the most important element of good creative. According to Alex Pallette, Vice President and Director of Account Planning at The Vidal Partnership, ads do not need to be visually Hispanic, but the strategy and thinking behind the ads has to come from an understanding of the Hispanic consumer. “The creative we did for Nissan has nothing visually to suggest that it is an advertisement targeting Hispanics. Its ability to reach Hispanics comes from an understanding of the Hispanic consumer that is conveyed in the advertisement,” explains Pallette. The Vidal Partnership looked at what ownership means to a Hispanic consumer, which is very different from what it means in the general market, and used that understanding to create an ad that speaks to Hispanics. “Ownership is a much bigger deal to the Hispanic consumer, it means more. That has to come through in the ad,” explains Pallette.

Felipe Korzenny, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communications at Florida State University, also emphasizes the importance of gaining cultural insight when it comes to good creative. He gives the example of coffee. “Americans use coffee to wake up in the morning, to get themselves going, but for Hispanics it’s more a way to welcome the morning and celebrate the new day. So you are going to create very different ads to speak to these two understandings or uses of coffee,” explains Korzenny.

However, an ad based on a specific insight into Hispanic culture, or some segment of the Hispanic market, often requires educating the client on more subtle cultural differences. In the absence of symbols or elements that are identifiably Hispanic, clients have difficultly recognizing good creative when they see it. Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, CEO and Principal of Enlace Communications, a full-service ad agency specializing in the U.S. Hispanic market, says it’s not uncommon to present an ad to a client and hear “What’s Hispanic about it?”

Some argue that an advertisement that is both specific to Hispanic culture, and at the same time universal enough to be understood by general market consumers (and clients) is ideal. Newman says she can argue it both ways. “If something is that universal it may not really reach the specific target audience,” she explains.

Good creative is creative that sells product

Great cultural insight and design are just parts of the equation. When it comes down to it, good creative is creative that gets people to take action. “If an ad doesn’t get the consumer to buy the product, it’s not a good ad,” says Ruth Gaviria, Publisher and Executive Director of Hispanic Ventures at Meredith. Rochelle Newman-Carrasco says that direct mail is “good creative” in this respect. “Direct mail is known for being tacky and not very artistically designed, but it is really good at what it does,” says Newman. “They’ve figured out how to get the response they want. And it is measurable, so if it’s not working they know it and can make changes.” Newman says that she sees the more results oriented direct mail advertising and the more idea and creative oriented print and broadcast advertising incorporating the strengths of the other into their own medium. So direct mail is becoming more visually appealing and well-designed and print and broadcast becoming more results oriented.

What gets in the way of good creative?

According to Ernie Pino, director of Producciones Pino in Los Angeles, lack of time and budget restrictions often make it more difficult to produce great creative for the Hispanic market. “There have been times when an Anglo campaign is ready to launch, but at the 11th hour, a creative director is given an order to have us design the campaign for Hispanic distribution,” explains Pino. “At that point there’s little time to engage in a good creative process and the job must be done on a rush basis or not at all.” Pino says the same thing happens with budgeting.

Meredith’s Ruth Gaviria agrees that lack of investment is one of the biggest obstacles to good creative in the Hispanic market, especially when it comes to print. “Hispanic agencies’ bread and butter has typically come from TV, so print has been less important.” Gaviria says that agencies have focused mostly on hiring and developing talented TV creatives and have neglected print. However, as interest in the Hispanic market in general, and print in particular, increases Gaviria sees this changing. “Hispanic agencies have had to hire new people who really know print.”

What makes good creative possible?

Great concepts and cutting edge design are not just about talent. Good creative needs the proper environment within which to grow. According to Ruth Gaviria, what really allows good creative to happen is a combination of good insights and openness to risk. “In the end, it is all about the relationship that exists between the agency and the client. If there is trust and open communication the creative process can flourish,” says Gaviria. “The companies that are really open to that dialogue, who want their agencies to push them, to make them a little bit uncomfortable, those are the companies that are really going to come out with great creative that sells.” Multicultural marketing consultant Ronnie Lipton points out that the more companies advertise to Hispanics, the better ads have to be. “Increased clutter means that advertising that’s just there isn’t enough. More than ever advertising has to be good – has to connect – to even be noticed.”