Group M's Hispanic Media Prophet: Gonzalo del Fa

Exec Also in Charge of MEC Bravo Doesn't Wait for Clients to Come to Him

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If Hispanic media prophet were a job title, that would be Gonzalo del Fa's role.

Gonzalo del Fa
Gonzalo del Fa

Instead, Mr. del Fa has a more prosaic title – managing director of MEC Bravo and Hispanic lead for Group M -- charged with building a multicultural business across Group M's four media agencies. (unless his unpaid passion for music as drummer of the Raging Bulldogs band suddenly becomes profitable).

"You have to never give up and always be talking about it," he said. "It's a matter of repetition sometimes."

Publicis Groupe 's Starcom Mediavest Group has long dominated U.S. Hispanic media planning and buying with the two biggest agencies in the space, Chicago-based Tapestry and MV42 in New York. Together, they account for almost one-third of all Hispanic media buying and planning revenue, according to Ad Age 's Hispanic Fact Pack. But as Mr. del Fa has fortified MEC Bravo and started infusing Hispanic tools and talent at Mindshare and MediaCom, the Group M agencies make up an estimated 20% of Hispanic media agency revenue.

It was Mr. del Fa, while successfully running MEC's Argentina office, asked a half dozen years ago at a regional meeting why the WPP Group media agency had no U.S. Hispanic offering. He and Michael Jones, who runs MEC's network in Latin America, put together a plan and Mr. del Fa moved to New York in 2006 to launch the Hispanic offering by moving the media department of Y&R's U.S. Hispanic shop Bravo into MEC headquarters and renaming it MEC Bravo.

MEC Bravo started developing tools, including one that takes into account that many Hispanics also watch English-language TV, and analyzes that spill-in. That tool, called Total Reach, studies the Hispanic reach of English-language TV, including a discount factor calculated with an algorithm that looks at how effectively English-language TV is reaching Hispanics. Then a Hispanic media plan is built on top.

Gonzalo del Fa playing the drums for his band,
Gonzalo del Fa playing the drums for his band, "Raging Bulldogs."

As tools were shared, more people moved into multicultural roles at other Group M agencies, and the mind-set began shifting from waiting for clients to ask for help with Hispanic.

"These teams we have in each agency are responsible for developing their own business," Mr. del Fa said. For brands that don't market to Hispanics "Do we know why not? Many times we don't know why not. You have to go ask. Before, we waited for them to ask us (about Hispanic)."

A lot of clients don't even know how much of their sales are made to Hispanics, he said.

Mr. del Fa continues as managing director of MEC Bravo, but has also taken on the task of Hispanic lead for Group M. MEC Bravo has about 30 staffers, and recently won Marriott, Energizer, Citibank and Winn Dixie accounts.

Mindshare's Hispanic effort, with about 12 people, is led by Ingrid Reyes, with Stacey Abreu, who used to run the Macy's business at MEC Bravo, heading up Unilever. Both report to Mr. del Fa, as does Al Cruz, who this year moved from MEC Bravo, where he ran the AT&T business, to head up MediaCom's five-person Hispanic effort. Recent Hispanic wins include Bayer for MediaCom and Abbott and CVS for Mindshare. Maxus isn't big enough to have a dedicated Hispanic team.

In his office at MEC, Mr. del Fa keeps a list on the wall of each Group M media agency's Hispanic clients, with a green symbol to indicate the companies he's zeroing in on that aren't currently spending on Hispanic -- five for MEC Bravo, two for Mediacom and one at Mindshare.

In the early days of Hispanic media agencies, people wondered whether Hispanic-only media pitches would be the next step. That hasn't happened; usually the multicultural business moves as part of a review of general-market media business, and Mr. del Fa expects that to continue. "I think Hispanic will be more and more integrated into overall planning, like digital is ."

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