Hispanic Spending in Texas to Surpass $2 Million

Primary Showdown Benefits Telemundo, Univision as Clinton, Obama Camps Pour Money Into Lone Star State

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WASHINGTON (Adage.com) -- The Hispanic market in Texas is seeing an unprecedented boom in campaign spending as presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton vie for supremacy in the Lone Star state.

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Together, the candidates spent nearly $2 million advertising to Spanish-speaking Hispanics in California, and broadcasters are saying spending ahead of the March 4 Texas primary could top that.

"I've been in Spanish television since 1985, and this is most active season I've ever seen," said Enrique J. Perez, senior VP-sales for Telemundo Station Group. "For the first time, Hispanic media is being planned side by side with general media."

Univision rakes in
Mr. Perez said that the spending of the Obama and Clinton campaigns is on a pace to exceed California spending by 20% to 25%, with all areas but Dallas and Austin bought. He said he was hopeful the attention also would translate into more money in the fall. A Univision representative said its stations too are seeing major boosts. Univision has more stations in Texas than it does in California.

"Historically we haven't gotten a lot of primary money," the representative said. "Both Hillary and Obama have kind of learned their lesson [from California] and they are out in force in just about everyplace in Texas." Univision last week also co-sponsored a Texas presidential debate between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama that aired on CNN and later on Univision.

TNSI Campaign Media Analysis Group reports that before Texas, a total of $2.6 million had been spent on Hispanic media. Texas already has seen $400,000 and the broadcasters said total spending is fast moving up.

Bigger vote potential
In the California results, Mrs. Clinton drew 67% of the state's Hispanic votes, compared with 32% for Obama, according to CNN exit-poll numbers.

Texas has a potentially bigger Hispanic vote than California. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 23% of California's eligible voters were Latino, third in the country. In Texas, which is second (behind New Mexico), 25% are Latino. Of the eligible Hispanics, 22.1% don't speak English very well. The Pew Center said last week that because Latinos lean more Democratic, they could make up as much as a third of Texas turnout in the Democratic primary.

While the numbers suggest many Hispanics watch English-language TV, the campaign's new focus on Hispanics is showing up most obviously in Spanish-language media, where ads from the two Democrats are now running on TV stations in all dayparts except the pricier markets in Austin and Dallas.

In another sign that the Obama campaign is taking the Hispanic vote far more seriously, the campaign has tapped a new Hispanic ad shop to produce its ads, enlisting Message Audience & Presentation, an Austin, Texas, firm headed by James Aldrete, for its Spanish language spots in Texas. The campaign declined to say whether they would also run in advance of Ohio's March 4 primary.

A Texas expert for Texas
Mr. Aldrete hasn't done advertising directly for a presidential candidate, but he has done a number of state and senatorial races and did ads for the Democratic National Committee's independent expenditure effort four years ago.

His radio and TV ads for Obama began two weeks ago in Texas and feature Hispanics speaking with more of a Texas twang.

In California the campaign had used Washington-based Elevacion for ads that sought to tap into the immigration experience.

Jim Margolis, who heads the Obama ad team, praised Elevacion's work, saying it "contributed mightily" but that the campaign turned to a Texas expert for Texas. Mr. Margolis is a principal at Omnicom's GMMB. Obama's ad team also includes AKP Media & Message, Chicago, and SS&K, New York.

The Clinton campaign's Hispanic ads from Mandy Grunwald's ad team come from Sergio Bendixen of Bendixen & Associates, Coral Gables, Fla.
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