NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The first episode of Spanish-language online branded entertainment show "De Moda" focuses on celebrities who wear amazingly inexpensive clothes on the red carpet. That was the most popular topic last year on "The Thread," which like "De Moda" is produced for Procter & Gamble Co. by Starcom MediaVest Group units and Yahoo.
Marketers and their agencies can spend months deciding whether a successful English-language property will work as well in the U.S. Hispanic market, and if so, what besides language should change to appeal to a Latino audience. That's especially true in areas such as branded entertainment, where good Spanish-language content is still scarce.
In October Procter & Gamble debuted "De Moda," a U.S. Hispanic version of "The Thread," both designed to showcase about half a dozen P&G brands over 26 episodes for "De Moda" and more for "The Thread," which started a year earlier.
For the Spanish-language version, the first step was to be sure the premise -- celebrity fashion -- resonated with Hispanic women, said Marcy Greenberger, media director at Tapestry, one of Starcom Mediavest Group's multicultural units. Tapestry handles Hispanic buying and strategy, working with MediaVest and its branded-entertainment unit Connectivetissue, which handles production for both shows.
"Then we realized we didn't want to just translate it," Ms. Greenberger said. That's not just for cultural relevance, but also because Hispanics consume English-language media, too, and some viewers may be watching both versions of the program.
Right now about 50% to 75% of the content is the same on both shows, Ms. Greenberger said, but the idea is to use fewer Hollywood stars and more Latin American celebrities and telenovela actresses. For instance, the latest episode, about stylish Latina women of comedy, features Sofia Vergara, who appears in ABC's "Modern Family," America Ferrera from "Ugly Betty," and a novela star.
"One thing people struggle with is they feel they have to do something completely different with Hispanic," Ms. Greenberger said.
"De Moda" hired its own Spanish-speaking host, local newscaster Carleth Keys, and a Spanish-speaking producer. But they will share with "The Thread" stars like Sofia Vergara, who can be interviewed in both Spanish and English (some Hispanic celebrities may be pictured on "De Moda" without an interview; a clue that their Spanish isn't fluent). Piggybacking on production of "The Thread," "De Moda" cuts costs by sharing a set overlooking Times Square in Manhattan, and some of the same footage.
P&G's presence ranges from a simple sponsor's credit to full product integration every four episodes or so. In one upcoming video, "De Moda's" host and a model will go to a New York salon for a hair makeover involving Herbal Essences.
Both shows promote some of the same P&G brands, such as Herbal Essences, but "The Thread" brand portfolio has included Crest White Stripes, which aren't promoted in the Hispanic market, and "De Moda" works with Dawn with Olay Beauty dishwashing liquid, which may be highlighted with an upcoming episode on celebrity hands.
New "De Moda" episodes will appear about every two weeks, and there are blog posts in between, drawing about 200,000 visitors in the first half of October. The top search terms in Spanish from Yahoo are also posted, giving the "De Moda" team insight into viewers' current interests.
"De Moda" is promoted across Yahoo en Español, including streaming banners that let viewers watch the videos from different parts of the site, said Adam Chandler, Yahoo's executive director for U.S. sales for partnerships and emerging markets.
Elsewhere on Yahoo, State Farm and OMD have added a Spanish-language version called "Mamas Famosas" to the "Goddess" blog about celebrity moms on Yahoo's popular OMG! site. It's a more limited program, with a Spanish-language introduction followed by Spanish subtitles over the English-language content.
"That's how the advertiser wanted to partner with us," Mr. Chandler said. "The next direction is the way we're headed with "De Moda.'"