Online Exclusive: Hispanic Marketing News

BUZZ MARKETING MOVES INTO HISPANIC COMMUNITY

Boston's BzzAgent Boasts 5,000 Hispanic Brand 'Agents'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) –- Buzz marketing, or grassroots word-of-mouth promotion, which has become a standard technique for mainstream marketers, is now being deployed on a large scale in the U.S. Hispanic community.
BzzAgent's first Hispanic campaign is for Cadbury Schweppes’ tomato-based beverage Clamato. The brand already has a large Hispanic following, partly because of its popularity in Mexico.

And BzzAgent, a 4-year-old, Boston-based buzz-marketing agency that has been servicing mainstream clients, is one of those leading the charge.

Hispanic BzzChannel
The online company this week launched the “Hispanic BzzChannel,” a Hispanic version of its volunteer-based marketing program. Three marketers have already signed up for Hispanic buzz promotions: Cadbury Schweppes’ Clamato tomato juice, Liz Claiborne and Levi Strauss & Co.’s Dockers brand.

Company founder and CEO Dave Balter was in the U.K. in January to discuss plans for extending the program’s reach beyond the U.S. and Canada when he first started to receive requests from companies to build word-of-mouth support specifically in Hispanic communities.

“We had 5,000 current agents listed as having Hispanic background and that were extremely active and extremely involved,” he said. “This is a great market. So we postponed the U.K. to launch it here.”

BzzAgent appointed a Spanish-speaker with Hispanic marketing experience, Vanesa Kolodziej-Guerra, as the director of BzzChannel, which is based off a bilingual Web site that allows visitors to toggle directly between English and Spanish versions of every page. Volunteers, called “BzzAgents,” sign up via the Web and are sent samples and background information on products from marketing campaigns that match their agent profiles. After using a product, the agents are encouraged to share their opinions of the product with friends, family and even strangers.

Hawking books
One agent, for example, was recently sent a copy of The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman. She was reading the book while doing her laundry when a neighbor asked what she was reading. The agent gave her neighbor, who was, in fact, young and broke, a card with title of the book so she could easily find it for herself the next time she was in a bookstore.

“They get sent product and training materials so as to be more conscious of opinion,” Mr. Balter said. “We never script. We tell them what types of people would care or the stories behind the brand.”

After posting detailed stories online about how they mentioned the products through word-of-mouth, agents get points that eventually earn them rewards.

“We’re making adjustments to the rewards based on what we think that community will enjoy,” Mr. Balter said of the rewards to be given to Latino BzzAgents. “It’s a reward that is sort of up to you. Reporting their activities to us enables them to potentially earn brand-associated products or rewards. It’s a ‘thank you’ from the brand.”

Cadbury Schweppes' Clamato
Cadbury Schweppes’ tomato-based beverage Clamato is the first Hispanic campaign, launching this week on the BzzChannel. The brand has a large Hispanic following, partly because of its popularity in Mexico, and since 2001 has targeted its whole U.S. marketing budget at the Hispanic community. Georg Rasinski, senior brand manager for Clamato, said he thought the Hispanic BzzChannel was a good way to market Clamato because the drink has a history of spreading through word-of-mouth in the Hispanic community.

“I felt it was very intriguing and interesting because Clamato seemed to have developed in a similar fashion by word–of-mouth over time. You can almost pinpoint where it started still,” Mr. Rasinski said. “You always felt that word-of-mouth is really the key of increasing penetration of Clamato.”

Mr. Rasinski said Clamato's BzzAgent campaign began with an e-mail notification to all Hispanic BzzChannel agents earlier this week. If the agents were interested in joining the campaign, they will be sent a campaign kit including a brochure about the product, a sample, coupons and information on how to buzz the product. Aside from the brand and BzzAgent's suggestions, it is basically up to the individual agent to decide how he or she would like to spread the word.

Goal: 15,000 volunteers
BzzAgent expects the new channel to grow to about 15,000 Latino agents by December 2005. Mr. Balter said the overall program grows by about 1,000 agents a week. According to its Web site, BzzAgent has more than 92,000 volunteers registered to work on its campaigns.

Mr. Balter said 70% of the company’s agents are women, 50% are older than 25, and 30% are older than 35. He said their occupations range from students to CEOs.

BzzAgent has worked on past campaigns for companies such as Anheuser Busch, DuPont, Penguin Group and Ralph Lauren.

Mr. Balter said the company is still considering plans to launch more BzzChannels in other communities, including in the U.K.
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