Operators, Networks Note Promo Tactics

New York -- The Fourth Annual Hispanic Summit 2006’s fifth panel, “Generating Revenues with Advertising and Promotion,” offered a glimpse into examples of marketing strategies by various networks, sellers and cable operators.

Joining the discussion were Tim Contado, director of marketing and research, AIM Tell-A-Vision Group; Chris Firestone, executive vice president of operations, Sorpresa; Renata Franco, manager of multicultural marketing, Cox Communications; Mercy Lugo-Struthers, director of Hispanic markets, DirecTV; and Dereck Messana, director of sales, AdConexión L.A.

Contado began by explaining AIM’s objective: to reach second- and third-generation Latinos. Its approach was to target the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Dallas markets in English via every avenue available, from gorilla tactics to core marketing with affiliates to newspaper and radio spots. It also monitored viral activity by sending representatives into Internet chat rooms for feedback.

Sorpresa’s marketing example differed in that the network worked directly with a cable operator to strengthen ties to the community. The foundation of this grassroots approach was an essay-writing contest for students 14 years old and under in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The topic: Tell us why your school is the best in town.

“It’s a very simple concept and easy to execute in conjunction with the cable operator,” said Firestone, who worked with Charter Communications to air promotions, augmenting those with posters around schools. He added that the experiment was successful in developing both operator and network recognition in the region because students were engaged and, by extension, so were their parents.

Franco said there was still confusion among operators about how to define the target market. “Is it about language? Is it about which platform?” She stressed that operators and programmers alike needed to segment the market, and that marketing tactics would depend on which segment they were going after.

Lugo-Struthers said one approach could involve leveraging. “We leverage the power of satisfied Hispanic customers to use the word-of-mouth to pick up more customers,” she added.

DirecTV’s campaign involved targeting current and potential customers with “a very sticky commercial -- one of those that you hear once and it doesn’t leave your mind.” The goal was to generate dialogue between subscribers and their nonsubscribing friends. “We were able to position our own customers as brand ambassadors,” Lugo-Struthers said.

Messana showed off a promotion for AdConexión L.A., which sells access to 44 networks in a market housing 18% of the U.S. Hispanic population. Created by Adlink, the promo was basically a bilingual metal box containing market information for advertisers and the AdConexión logo. The tactic won awards from both the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications and the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing.

Moving on from promotional materials, moderator Joe Schramm asked whether one channel, as opposed to a package, could capture major revenues in the Hispanic market.

Franco sided with the package. “It’s like a mall,” she said. “If you were going to promote an entire mall, would you show one store?” Lugo-Struthers agreed, favoring packages that recognized localism and a variety of backgrounds and linguistic preferences.

Yet Contado still favored the specific, targeted approach of English-dominant programming, saying, “60% of the U.S. Latino population is U.S.-born.” He clarified later: “Not that there’s no room for Spanish-language programming, but our specific target market is English-speaking.”

The panel closed with a discussion among providers about whether separate budgets were still necessary for the Hispanic market, as opposed to incorporating them within general advertising budgets. Both Franco and Lugo-Struthers said they maintained separate budgets.