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William Ortiz GlobalWorks

William Ortiz is president of the multicultural division of New York-based ad agency GlobalWorks, which counts Cablevision Systems Corp. and HBO Latino among its clients. Ortiz participated in a multicultural panel at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in Boston earlier this month. He spoke recently with Hispanic Television Update about marketing to Latinos. An edited transcript follows:

Q: What is different about marketing cable to Hispanics as opposed to other groups?

A: You really have to persuade the Latino that cable is better than what they currently have or are considering, whether it be rabbit ears or satellite. Just tossing out a promotional price point isn’t going to get them to sign on. The Latino audience is waiting to be persuaded that what you have to offer delivers superior value and something worth watching.

Q: What does cable do well and not so well in terms of Hispanic marketing?

A: I think certainly one of the things cable does well is create attractive packages that allow Spanish-dominant customers to enjoy the kind of programming that they perhaps might miss from back home. There are some cable companies that believe the only way to attract Latinos is through a Spanish-language tier. While that is a very important weapon to have in the arsenal, it is not the only weapon. Latino households in the U.S. are multigenerational and, as a result, you have Latinos living in the same household with different language capabilities. Latinos are interested in a broad array of programming. They want to have choice

Q: Do your ads for Cablevision pitch both broadband and cable?

A: When Cablevision first started working with us it didn’t seem Hispanics were ready to buy into the triple-play bundle. The fact that Latinos were adopting iPods, buying computers, buying all sorts of things that require a broadband connection, it really created an environment where the time is right to market triple-play [voice, video and data services] to them and for persuading them that these products belong in their lives now. One of the unique things about the Hispanic market is that unlike the general market, Hispanics have bypassed dial-up. They immediately go to broadband, which is different.

Q: Is the Cablevision campaign all in Spanish?

A: Most of it is in Spanish but we have done some work in English. There was a spot we did that we refer to as coqui. The folks at Cablevision were including Puerto Rico as part of their calling plan and wanted to introduce it in a bigger way.

Anyone who has been to Puerto Rico has heard the sound of the coqui [tree frog] and it is a sound you really only hear in Puerto Rico. It is very distinctive. We developed a spot that took place in New York. You see Latinos walking through a park, one coming out of an apartment building and all of the sudden they hear the sound of a coqui, which you are not supposed to hear in New York. It is strictly an island sound and it is part of how we introduced the addition of Puerto Rico to what they had to offer on Optimum Voice.

We did that commercial in English and Spanish. Even the English-dominant puertoriqueños would know the sound of the coqui. It was a uniquely Puerto Rican approach that only folks from the island would understand and appreciate. We like to say sometimes when we do things like that it is almost like a code. We can do things in Hispanic advertising that only Latinos will understand. And that’s part of what makes marketing to Latinos so unique and special.

Q: How much competition does satellite television still represent?

A: I think it still represents considerable competition. I do think, though, more Latinos are coming to cable versus satellite. And we are seeing Latinos moving from satellite to cable. I think one of the reasons is that certainly the programming is better now on cable. I also think the bundle is going to play a bigger role in the future. A customer [who purchases a bundled package] is likely to stay a long, long time and has made a significant commitment. Satellite can’t do that right now. I certainly believe cable is sitting in the catbird’s seat versus satellite and the more traditional telecommunications providers.