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Hispanic TV Summit: Gadsby: SMG Multicultural Is a Story of Leadership

New York -- As the Hispanic population in the U.S. grows, so does its value in the advertising marketplace -- a fact that Monica Gadsby, CEO, Latin America and U.S. Multicultural, Starcom MediaVest Group, knows very well.

In her acceptance speech for the Achievement in Hispanic Television Award at B&C/Multichannel News's ninth annual Hispanic Television Summit at the Mariott Marquis here, Gadsby said the award not only acknowledges her own success, but "your hard work, your belief in us as a powerful economic, social, political and good-looking group."

With Tapestry and MV42, both part of SMG's growing Hispanic and multicultural unit, under her watch, Gadsby has had a hand in developing Hispanic-focused marketing in the wake of booming cultural growth and a rapidly evolving media landscape.

Her efforts, as well as SMG's team, she said, have led the company to command a stronger presence in the industry.

"Ours is no longer a story of catching up with general market and English language television," she said. "Ours is a story of leadership."

The full text of Gadsby's acceptance speech follows.

Thank you Louis [Hillelson, vice president, group publisher of Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News]. And thanks to the editors and staff of Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News for this award.

Good afternoon New York City, television family and friends. Que honor ser reconocida por ustedes. Sin ustedes no existiera la television latina! You guys have made my career, gracias!

By acknowledging me, you are recognizing your hard work, your belief in us as a powerful economic, social, political and good looking group -Latinos are hot! Just take a good look at Jencarlos Canela, that's the kind of product we deliver. That's good Hispanic television!

But all joking aside, I really do feel very honored to receive a lifetime achievement award in Hispanic television. I know that I am not that old --so lifetime achievement may be premature... but I have dedicated a big chunk of my life to figuring out what gives our culture its unique "sabor" and to preaching that Latinos are trendsetters and that they have been and will continue to drive the social and economic fabric of our country. And perhaps that is the reason why I have been working in the same company all these years. So much growth in the Hispanic media much still to do!

So I see it fitting to thank Leo Burnett, Starcom Mediavest Group and Publicis Groupe for questioning, listening, understanding and caring about a community that assimilates differently to others. We don't let go of our traditions, our language and our Hispanicness.

Twenty five years ago, I was given an account that needed to cater to the U.S. Latino community. Procter & Gamble challenged Leo Burnett to a deeper understanding of this community. And so we began our first efforts for Cheer detergent, Pert Plus shampoo and Secret deodorant. How many of you remember our first U.S.-produced "Nuestra Belleza Latina" beauty pageants fully sponsored by Procter & Gamble, celebrating the beauty of our women and crowning "La Chica Secret" for her poise and confidence?

Eventually our Leo Burnett Hispanic media team came to be known as Tapestry, the leading multicultural agency that grew from a department of 3 to now a staff of over 100 experts dedicated Hispanic media and multicultural media. More than an agency team, we have been a family linked by our passion to engage a group of consumers few could understand for so many years.

Our jobs involved a lot of convincing and evangelizing with relentless persistence. We worked with door to door SRC ratings before Nielsen began to measure Hispanic viewing. We explained to our clients the power behind Don Francisco and his lively product pitches. And we celebrated the birth of the second over the air Spanish-language television network with its hot pink logo - that was Telemundo in 1987. Then came Telefutura and then the myriad cable options.

We had so much fun. And many of my colleagues who were part of this work family we built have also been with me their entire work career. We have had the most wonderful journey together, a journey we have not yet completed. Thank you Elena Figueroa, Danielle Gonzales, Marla Skiko and Lia Silkworth to name but a few in my work family who have stuck with me through thick and thin.

As Tapestry grew and Hispanics gained in numbers and importance, we began to face new challenges. Effectively marketing to an ever more diverse segment of the U.S. population became more complex, requiring more innovation. Now we had good ratings and a more nuanced perspective demanding more nuanced solutions.

We all became familiar with the challenge of moving beyond a universal voice and engaging U.S. Latinos according to their sub-ethnicities, place of birth, life stage and language preference. For answers, I looked inside Tapestry, at the cultural complexity of my own team. I recognized so many of our common experiences bonded us and yet so much about our unique backgrounds, interests and life stories made us each unique. This simple human truth taught us that the U.S. Latino experience was an ever-evolving paradox. And that made our jobs so exciting!

The affirmation of this concept soon followed: the emergence of bilingual television with mun2, MTV3 and Si TV, which is now re-branded as nuvoTV. The emergence of vertical channels such as Fox and ESPN Deportes, Discovery en Español and V-me. The emergence of new genres and the re-invention of old ones such as made-in-the-U.S.-for-the-U.S.-viewer novelas like Reina del Sur and Eva Luna. And of course the emergence of multiple screens. Our work on behalf of clients today reflects this complexity. Take for example the wonderful "pensemos positivo" experience we created for Latino moms and Post cereals in partnership with Telemundo and Jencarlos Canela. If you have not seen it, stay tuned as Jencarlos himself along with our Post client Anthony Shurman will be sharing this case study today right after lunch.

With the continued complexity and ever growing opportunities in Spanish television, our business model also evolved. We created 42 Degrees at Mediavest. Our work family grew and we are now 75 strong here in New York City. Thank you Caleb and Steven for leading our MV42 familia.

Tapestry and MV42 are the leading Hispanic media agencies today, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Spanish television. But more than the money, we continue to write history every day as we challenge the status quo and demand on going innovation. Ours is no longer a story of catching up with general market and English language television. Ours is a story of leadership. We now command the largest audiences, we now define gold standard in television. I am so proud of being part of this success and even prouder that as Latinos in the U.S. We continue to prosper and demand more.

They say it takes a village... so I close with the point I started with. My success would not have been possible without all of you in this room. Without your commitment in foreseeing the inevitable growth and staying power of our people. I'd like to raise a glass together and toast to you, a Hispanic television community who has proven to be first and fearless.

Thank you for making my career what it is today and honoring me with this wonderful award.