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Clear Channel Retools Hispanic Radio and Outdoor Strategies

Flips More Stations to Spanish; Greatly Expands Outdoor Sales Efforts

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In response to the rapid growth in the buying power of U.S. Hispanics, as well as moves by its key rival, Clear Channel Communications is reorganizing its radio and outdoor assets to reach more deeply into the Latino market.

Clear Channel is ramping up its Hispanic billboard and radio sales capabilities.

Largest station owner
Clear Channel is the nation's largest owner of radio stations with interests in more than 1,100, and one of the world's largest outdoor advertising companies, with more than 800,000 billboards and transit displays worldwide.

Clear Channel and rival Viacom are flipping a growing number of radio stations to Hispanic formats. In fact, the two competitors are engaged in what some in the industry refer to as an arms race to bulk up Hispanic radio presences in important markets.

Flipping stations
Clear Channel has converted eight stations since announcing last year that it would ultimately flip 26, and Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting has partnered with the Spanish Broadcasting System, the nation's largest Hispanic-owned radio company, to help it reach more Hispanics as it converts stations across the country. In the deal, Infinity also gained a San Francisco-based Spanish-language station in exchange for giving SBS a 10% equity interest.

In a second part of its new offensive, Clear Channel's outdoor division, which previously sold the bulk of its Hispanic-related billboards and related work from Miami, is assigning Hispanic sales duties to staffers throughout its national offices.

Pedro Milián
The greatly enhanced sales program will be headed by Pedro Milián Jr., vice president for Hispanic sales and marketing, and Tony Dailey, vice president

Pedro Milián Jr., Clear Channel Outdoor's vice president for Hispanic sales and marketing, heads up the new effort.
for multicultural sales and marketing, according to the company.

"We have many assets in cities that have experienced huge growth in Hispanic population," said Mr. Milián, who will continue to be based out of the company's Miami office. "Boston, Portland, Seattle, Tampa, Atlanta, Orlando, Milwaukee -- we're seeing that growth in cities that traditionally you wouldn't think of being Hispanic but they've changed."

Top 10 states
The top 10 states for Hispanic buying power now include Colorado, Georgia and Illinois, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. "Part of the rationale in looking at a national Hispanic campaign is that you'll deliver not only high-density, high-composition Hispanic markets, but also the emerging markets," said Jim Irvine, senior director for media strategies at Houston-based Lopez Negrete Communications. "I've had advertisers where we would be 30 markets deep, but typically we're about 25 markets deep."

Other Hispanic outdoor advertising players include Viacom's Latino Division and Entravision's Vista Media, which sells its outdoor advertising in New York and Los Angeles.

Spending on Hispanic outdoor
Outdoor ad spending swelled by 20% in 2004 and Hispanic-focused advertising grew by 5%, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Yet, Hispanic spending on outdoor is still proportionally less than general market ad spending, Mr. Milián said. He encourages advertisers to us outdoor to reach acculturated Hispanics, which, according to a McKinsey & Co. study, will describe more than 67% of Hispanics in 2010. These Hispanics are likely to be bilingual, often consuming English-language media but still thinking and feeling in Spanish.

"It can fill in the gaps for those that don't necessarily tune into Spanish-language television," he said. "So advertisers ask, 'Do we reach this group in English?' Not necessarily, because we want them to know we're talking to them."
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