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Spanish-Language Ads Break on Nick

NEW YORK -Nickelodeon is running its first Spanish-language commercials, although those spots will be bilingual and limited to specific shows.

The first bilingual spots-in English and Spanish-broke on Jan. 7 for the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain, which has bought time on Nickelodeon's series The Brothers Garcia.

CEC Entertainment's kiddie-oriented franchise will later buy time on Dora the Explorer
and Taina, two other Nick programs with Hispanic characters and themes. The Taina
-related ads are scheduled to premiere on Jan. 14. The Brothers Garcia
and Taina
are live-action shows; Dora the Explorer
is animated.

"Right now," no other advertisers are planning similar bilingual buys, a Nickelodeon spokeswoman said. She would not detail the fast-food chain's advertising budget, but noted that Chuck E. Cheese is a multimillion-dollar account for Nick.

Interestingly, Nickelodeon president Herb Scannell's family has a bilingual background. As he told The New York Times
two weeks ago, his mother, who is Puerto Rican, used to speak in both Spanish and English.

But Nickelodeon won't be the first anglophone network to run bilingual spots. CBS last fall ran several commercials shot in part or completely in Spanish during its first Latin Grammy Awards
telecast. That special reflected an explosion in crossover Hispanic singers, such as Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez.

And it's projected that the Hispanic segment of the U.S. population will grow for the foreseeable future. Hispanics could soon surpass African Americans as the nation's largest minority group, several researchers have predicted.

For its part, Chuck E. Cheese last year began buying time on the Spanish-language broadcast networks Univision and Telemundo to target the Hispanic segment.

Los Angeles interconnect Adlink last spring formed an Hispanic ad-sales unit to sell packages of both Latino-targeted and Hispanic-appeal general-market cable networks, said senior vice president of marketing and communications Vicki Lins. Los Angeles is the nation's largest Hispanic market.

Lins said Nick, MTV: Music Television, Cartoon Network and USA Network are among the networks most popular with Hispanics who prefer English.

Verizon Communications was first to buy a Spanish-language package of Adlink's Latino and general networks last fall. The "fairly substantial buy" included Nickelodeon and ran through the fourth quarter, with prospects for renewal this year, she said.

Nissan North America and Toyota Motor Sales USA also bought time last fall for campaigns that will run during first-quarter 2001. Spots run in Spanish on Galavision and Fox Sports World Español and in English on the other networks.

All told, advertisers spend $170 million on Hispanic television advertising, led by such categories as fast food, retail, telecommunications, entertainment, consumer electronics and automotive, according to Nielsen Media Research.