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Monday, October 27, 2008,10:49 PM
Chief Hispanic Marketing Officer Is there such a thing? No, the following execs are filling that role.
September 22, 2008
By Della de Lafuente

NEW YORK Everyone knows by now that the Hispanic demo is a growing one, but how do marketers go about addressing it? Is there a dedicated team in place charged with reaching Hispanics or are all marketers in a company responsible for focusing some of their efforts on the segment? And does anyone have the equivalent of a chief Hispanic marketing officer?

Not yet, although several companies have CMOs who happen to be Hispanic. For them, the job often involves becoming part evangelist—to help make a case for Hispanic marketing—and part corporate Hispanic compass, i.e. the point person in a firm charged with maintaining the cultural integrity of language, tone and messaging.

"You're the one who's constantly out there talking up this opportunity, crusading, telling our story, getting people engaged and focused on the brand and our agents and in making the business case for why I need to keep and grow my Hispanic marketing budget," said Luisa Acosta-Franco, assistant vp-emerging marketing at Farmers Insurance and a self-described steward of the company's Hispanic and other ethnic targeted programs.
The exact number of marketers focused exclusively on the demo is unclear. One indicator: The ANA's multicultural marketing committee boasts 135 executives with Hispanic marketing duties, including many who are veteran marketers and both Hispanics and non-Hispanics.

A look at various companies uncovered Hispanic-targeted strategies as diverse as the Latino culture itself. Job titles and responsibilities vary from company to company, with a mix of Hispanics and non-Hispanics leading dedicated efforts aimed at Latinos. Read on to find out how some brands are handling the challenge:

T-Mobile's Stockdale

Mark Stockdale, director, Hispanic marketing, T-Mobile, doesn't have to make the case for more Hispanic marketing. He lets his metrics do it for him. "Companies that are unable to provide proof of performance will be unable to get sustainable attention," said Stockdale, a native of Mexico City who helped to create the Hispanic-targeted practice at T-Mobile four years ago.

T-Mobile's Hispanic effort is plotted out over a two-, four- and six year business plan, reaching across the entire organization with the Hispanic market appearing now on the company's weekly internal business reports as a key revenue channel and ad spending growing in double digits in recent years, Stockdale said.

But Stockdale's job isn't all about charts and graphs. He also seeks to tap into the needs of the market. "It's making sure that if customers want to sign a contract, receive a billing statement, interact with a payment kiosk or speak with a customer service representative in Spanish, they can," he said. Earlier this year, the company opened its fourth bilingual dedicated call center in Brownsville, Texas.

The approach worked. T-Mobile's share of the Hispanic wireless business has climbed to 21% from 17% in the past three years, the company claims.

Fox Sports' de Quesada

Fox's parent company, News Corp., doesn't have a dedicated Hispanic CMO position, but someday it might, predicted Raúl E. de Quesada, assistant gm and vp-marketing, communications and creative services, Fox Sports International.

"News Corp. is really putting a lot of weight into where they are developing the Hispanic talent," said de Quesada, a native of Camaguey, Cuba. "Once that Hispanic talent continues to move up into higher executive positions, you'll see the Hispanic [marketing] effort will go the other direction."

De Quesada appears to take the "compass" role at Fox Sports. As the head of the on-air promotions department, de Quesada said he reads nearly everything before it goes on the air and, in most cases, he also handles the English to Spanish translation of content himself, looking to preserve the integrity of the intended Spanish-language messaging while avoiding offensive language to some or all Latino cultural groups that may end up lost in translation.

That extends to new digital formats as well. Said de Quesada: "Movement of multiplatform opportunities will depend on the availability of relevant content that can deliver across the board. We're working on that because content is what really rules the marketplace."

General Mills' Rodriguez

At General Mills, Hispanic-targeted marketing is handled as a part of a wider multicultural approach that includes messaging aimed at African American consumers. The Hispanic side of the business is led by Rodolfo Rodriguez, General Mills' director-multicultural marketing.

He leads an internal team comprised of marketers and staffers in sales and consumer insights who partner with the brand teams to help support their efforts to reach Hispanics and African Americans through separate targeted programs supported by specific, dedicated dollars for each.

One of Rodriguez's projects is "Que Rica Vida," a multibrand platform in its third year aimed at Latinas and highlighting various brands and lifestyle tips via TV, a quarterly 350,000-circ. direct mail magazine featuring original content and recipes developed by the Betty Crocker kitchens; a Web portal and grass roots marketing at festivals also support.

The company has increased its investment in the program year over year, including a content partnership this year with Univision to air multiple vignettes featuring Despierta América's Karla Martínez via TV.

Launched in August, the vignettes provide tips and ideas for helping Hispanic moms navigate life in the U.S., Rodriguez said.

Western Union's Galuppo

Western Union has the unusual position of being at the center of communications between new Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. and their native countries, and Hispanics immigrating to outside the U.S.

"We're doing business with Hispanic customers all over the world, not just in the U.S. or in Canada," said Gail Galuppo, evp and CMO of Western Union's global marketing program, including Hispanic business here and abroad. "We're doing business with Hispanics in Latin America, the Caribbean, South America, even in Europe and the U.K."

As a result, the brand's approach to advertising and marketing is somewhat unusual: Western Union focuses its ad spending budget, which accounts for about 6% of the company's total revenues, in the key countries and communities where it does business or wants to build awareness of the brand. Ad budgets are managed by marketing heads in target markets in order to grow its business in key money-transfer corridors.

"You won't see us on big, mainstream TV because we're trying to reach our customers in the ethnic media and newspapers specifically targeting communities, said Galuppo. "Whether they are Guatemalans, Dominicans or Mexicans, we really get down to what type of communication they're reading."

Reliant Energy's Rodriguez

Targeted marketing is the way Reliant Energy approaches its strategy for Hispanic marketing, hiring pharmaceutical marketing veteran Manny Rodriguez in March to oversee the company's efforts, which encompass both the Hispanic and the general markets.

"Depending on the space that you play in, like us being based in Texas where in some instances Hispanics are the majority, how we go to market and how we talk to them is very important," said Rodriguez, a native of Spain who previously worked for major pharmaceutical companies in New York.

Reliant has had an ongoing Hispanic-focused marketing program for nearly a decade, devoting significant ad spend to targeting Latino consumers, said Rodriguez.

He serves as vp of brand and marketing services, essentially holding the CMO job, though it's not his title. Duties include oversight of all marketing in the general and Hispanic markets and directing advertising, public relations, market research, sports marketing and promotions among other duties.

Said Rodriguez: "To gain a position in the marketplace, it's all about understanding your core brand, your consumers and the demographics, and then investing in the marketplace, showing a presence in the community and respecting and rewarding the brand loyalty of Hispanics. Segmenting and targeting is what makes the difference."

Farmers Insurance's Acosta-Franco

Marketing to Hispanics is central to the corporate messaging program at Farmers, where Latinos are a core consumer and considered key to the company's growth strategy.

Acosta-Franco, assistant vp of emerging markets, leads that marketing, which is best known for ads featuring actor Edward James Olmos touting the benefits of insurance to the uninsured, though the company also makes a point of hiring bilingual agents.

"Ultimately, a good marketer needs to be knowledgeable and respectful of the culture to be successful," said Acosta-Franco, noting that a Spanish surname doesn't guarantee that a marketing executive will bring a personal and an industry perspective for the job.

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