Multicultural TV: Hispanics Still Not Garnering Fair Share of Ad Dollars

New York -- Latinos may be enjoying increased influence across U.S. culture and expanded buying power to go along with their population growth, but when it comes to advertising messaging and spending aimed at this group the industry continues to lag.

That was the consensus among executives on the “Attracting Multicultural TV Audiences: An Advertising Perspective” panel, moderated by Saul Gitlin, executive vice president strategic services and managing director Kang & Lee Advertising, at the Multicultural TV Summit here Tuesday.

“The simple answer is no. Expenditures aimed specifically at Hispanics under-index relative to viewership and cultural relevance,” said Craig Geller, senior vice president of advertising sales at NUVOtv, who also noted that agencies are not focused enough creatively to reflect this consumer base.

Holly McGavock, head of planning at Wing, said that while many brands have long recognized the opportunities with Latinos and committed resources accordingly, WPP's Hispanic shop is still working with clients that are entering that marketplace for the first time. On the bright side, more clients from the top down are recognizing that it’s an imperative to effectively reach Hispanics and the multicultural market overall “in order to win.”

Valerie Graves, a creative services specialist at her own company and the author of the upcoming book, "Pressure Makes Diamonds: How I became the Woman I Pretended to Be," has spent time in the agency world at urban and youth-focused shop Vigilante. She said that African-Americans working in large agencies think and behave differently than those employed in minority-focused and aimed concerns. She said it’s important for brands to recognize who is handling their initiatives and what insights that can be gleaned from their experiences in trying to determine how good a job an agency can do in reaching those consumers.

Michael Finn, senior vice president of sales and marketing for El Rey Network, said there had been different reactions to filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's milennial-aimed network from large shops to Hispanic-aimed agencies. “There is still a division out there. It’s interesting that still exists,” he said.

Gitlin steered the conversation toward the total market approach now being favored by many brands, which elicited a mixed response from the panelists.

Carol Hinnant, senior vice president of national television sales at Rentrak, said when considering total audience, impressions across all screens must be gauged: “Unless you can measure the execution of all the plans,” then the campaign can’t be fully assessed, she said.

Hinnant noted that  today researchers can figure out the number of Hispanic women, or black men of a certain age a campaign reaches. “You need targeting plans to measure that on all screens and on TV,” she said, adding that the latter still accounts for 95% of ad spending.

McGavock said clients are looking for one message and one budget, but the inherent risk to total market is “over-simplification.” She believes that connecting with Hispanics or African-Americas necessitates more nuanced approaches and different creative that still reflect an overall brand message. She said that Wing, in working with Grey, is "getting pulled into the process much earlier,” and as a result is not just adapting creative, but “bringing different strategies” to bear.

Graves said that with general-market efforts, everything is aimed at white consumers from ages 18 to 49 and all the rest of the ancillary advertising had to fall in line with that. “Campaigns were created with nothing to do with African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American consumers,” she said. With total marketing, “at least now everyone is being considered from the beginning.”

Nevertheless, when it comes to making connections with minority groups, those gambits must be rooted in deep insights. “That’s difficult to do from a total market approach. You still need to reach all of them,” she said.

For his part, NUVOtv’s Geller expressed economic misgivings: “[Hispanic media] only gets four percent on the buy side, and they're the first ones cut when the budget gets reduced.”