"My main priority is going to be growing the franchise and new business," she said.
Media agencies are increasingly aggressive at chipping away the media buying from full-service Hispanic ad agencies, which still dominate Hispanic media buying. Ms. Contreras-Torres' new agency, MPG Diversity, was No. 13 in Advertising Age's ranking of top Hispanic agencies by billings from media planning and buying, with 2005 billings of $50 million. Of the 12 shops above MPG in the ranking, eight are full-service Hispanic ad agencies and just four -- Tapestry (ranked No. 1), OMD Latino (No. 7), Carat (No. 9) and MediaCom Latino (No. 11) -- are media specialist shops.
But they're growing. At MPG, Ms. Contreras-Torres will be working with clients like McDonald's Corp., Reckitt Benckiser, Outback Steakhouse, Fox Sports en Espanol, and Amtrak.
And unlike her previous agency, Carat USA, where the multicultural division's accounts -- Pfizer, Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motor America, Procter & Gamble Co. and Radio Shack -- were all Carat clients in the general market, MPG Diversity has a mix of clients shared with MPG and clients that work only with the multicultural unit.
The hiring of Ms. Contreras-Torres will allow Jorge Percovich, who has divided his time between running MPG International in Miami, where he is based, and overseeing MPG Diversity in New York, to focus on his international job as exec VP-managing director for MPG International.
Ms. Contreras-Torres is a champion for all multicultural advertising, working to persuade marketers to do African-American and Asian-American advertising as well as targeting Hispanics.
Voice of the market
"If MPG clients aren't actively in the [multicultural] market, they're evaluating it," she said. "We're in the process of pitching them or facilitating how they're going to get in the market -- clients need research and creative development, you can't just turn the switch on. It's very easy to fall by the wayside or get cut from the budget. That's part of the reason I'm here. Now there's someone 24/7 who's the voice of the market."
Hers is a very authentic voice. As a child, she was the translator for her Puerto Rican parents, and was the first in her family to be educated in the U.S. and to graduate from college.
"You carry your family's dreams on your shoulders," she said.
MPG Diversity's six-person team is smaller than the 10-person multicultural unit at Carat, but MPG Diversity does planning, buying and research for its clients. At Carat, the multicultural unit does mainly planning and consultancy and Carat USA handles the multicultural buying.
Ms. Contreras-Torres is working with MPG's account directors and new-business teams to make sure multicultural is part of an integrated offering.
"I've already been in two general market pitches, and it's only my second week," she said.