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Agency CEO Sees Upfront Boom for Hispanic Broadcasters

Joe Zubi is CEO of Miami-based Zubi Advertising, one of the largest Hispanic advertising agencies in the country with annual billings of about $200 million per year. The agency was founded in 1976 by Zubi’s late mother, Tere Zubizarreta, who in March became the first Hispanic woman to be inducted into the American Advertising Foundation’s Advertising Hall of Fame.

Zubi Advertising has a history of doing innovative upfront deals. In 2008, Joe Zubi initiated an $80 million upfront deal with Univision that at the time was the largest one-time, cross-platform upfront deal between a Hispanic media agency and a Hispanic TV network in history. It included buys for nine Zubi clients on the three Univision broadcast and cable networks, all of Univision’s owned-and-operated television stations, radio, online and mobile.

Zubi has also been a leader in getting its client Ford integrated in various Telemundo novelas, including an innovative integration in 2010 that involved exposure for four different Ford vehicle brands.

Zubi agency clients also include JP Morgan Chase, American Airlines and Walgreens. Joe Zubi was in New York to attend the AAF induction dinner on behalf of his mother and took some time out to speak with B&C contributing editor John Consoli about this year’s Hispanic upfront.

What level of ad spending do you think will take place in the Hispanic TV upfront this year?

I believe this is going to be one of the best upfronts in the Hispanic ad marketplace. In 2000, great numbers came out of the U.S. Census regarding the Hispanic population. But then in 2001 we had the tragedy of the Sept. 11 attacks, and for a couple of years, there were ad cutbacks. Then the 2010 census numbers came out, again reflecting huge growth in the Hispanic population in the U.S., but we were still in a tough economic marketplace that was still recovering from 2008-09. But ! nally this year, marketers seem more positive about spending again. Most have positive cash flows and are showing sales growth. This Hispanic upfront will be one of the most aggressive in years.

How does that translate in terms of dollars?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see an overall ad dollar volume increase of 15%-20% in the Hispanic upfront.

Where will that increase come from?

I think most of it will come from current clients on Hispanic television that will be spending more.

What impact do you think MundoFox, the new network being formed by News Corp. and RCN, will have on upfront spending and ad dollars?

It’s hard to tell. We are going to have to rely on ratings promises, since the network has no track record. So we will have to be cautious since they may not achieve the ratings they project. They will have plenty of content and they will have solid distribution. But we haven’t seen their business plan, so it’s hard to tell. Right now they seem to be concentrating on growing their station base. It’s not likely they will be releasing any programming information until their upfront presentation. I have to believe right now that their take in the upfront will be relatively low, and that a lot of advertisers will buy them in scatter as they start to see what kind of ratings the programming gets.

What ad categories do you believe will bring in more ad dollars in this year’s Hispanic upfront?

I believe automotive will be stronger with companies like Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen spending more. I also think the ! nancial services category will pick up.

What are some ad categories where you see room for growth?

I think electronics is not spending what it should be, considering Hispanics’ passion for that category. And packaged goods still has a lot of room for growth—not so much with new companies coming in, but with the companies that are advertising now. There are so many more brands they should be promoting.

When do you expect selling to begin in the Hispanic upfront?

Over the last couple of years, media agencies have been buying Hispanic TV at the same time they were buying English-language television, so I see that continuing. I expect buying on English-language and Hispanic TV to be going on simultaneously.

Do you believe Telemundo will continue to make some inroads in picking up additional spending commitments in the upfront?

While Univision will continue to get the bulk of the dollars, Telemundo is getting more. It introduced some strong novelas this season, and programming-wise it is moving in the right direction. I believe that Telemundo will grow its share of advertising a bit again this year.