JCPenney Hires Patricia Romero to Lead Multicultural Marketing

Former Hyundai Exec Left Carmaker Amid Shrinking Ad Budget for Hispanic Market

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Patricia Romero, former head of multicultural marketing at Hyundai Motor America, will be JCPenney's new director of multicultural marketing starting Nov. 16.

Patricia Romero
Patricia Romero Credit: Scott Gries
At JCPenney, she'll be working with the retailer's U.S. Hispanic agency, Vidal Partnership, and Asian-American shop InterTrend Communications. The company doesn't have an agency of record for the African-American market.

Ms. Romero joined Hyundai two years ago. The carmaker cut its multicultural spending after mid-2008 and has spent very little on the Hispanic market in the last 18 months, so Ms. Romero's job increasingly entailed working on general market and digital efforts at Hyundai.

She said part of the appeal of the JCPenney job is that she really wanted to get back to doing multicultural marketing. The post was previously held by Olivia Vela, who left the company earlier this year for a job at Dr. Pepper. JCPenney ranked as the 24th largest advertiser in Spanish-language media in 2008, spending $46.5 million, and has been particularly active in spot radio and sponsorship in the Hispanic market.

Last month Ruby Anik, JCPenney's senior VP and director of brand marketing, said in a speech at the Assn of National Advertisers' annual Multicultural Marketing conference in Phoenix that she was looking for a multicultural marketing director. She said that until about nine months ago, multicultural marketing had been housed in another group but had since been moved into her brand marketing group. (Multicultural apparently reported into the merchandising group previously.) Ms. Romero will report to Lisa DeStefano Orebaugh, JCPenney's division VP for brand communications and strategy, who works with Ms. Anik.

Ms. Anik said in her ANA presentation that JCPenney has designated Hispanic and Asian-American stores. "That's the future of retail," she said.

The Hispanic stores beat the general market stores in sales, she said. The company doesn't have a Spanish-language website yet.

Before joining Hyundai, Ms. Romero was VP-director of client services at Bumpercar, a Hispanic shop in Los Angeles. Before that, she held marketing posts at DaimlerChrysler and Toshiba, and she led American Honda Motor Co.'s expansion in Latin America.

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