GM's Hispanic efforts net results

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As marketers rethink what proportion of their ad budgets to devote to the Hispanic market, General Motors Corp. is dialing up Hispanic ad spending in 2004 as earlier increases show results.

The auto giant spent 17% of its total ad budget in Hispanic media in the first quarter of 2004 vs. 13% in the fourth quarter of 2003, said Sonia Green, executive director-Hispanic marketing at GM. She expects the year-over-year spikes to continue through 2004.

The money was reallocated, she added, declining to say from where or to give specific spending figures.

For 2003 as a whole, the carmaker spent 5% of its ad budget in Hispanic TV and print, ranking GM as the third biggest marketer to Latinos after Procter & Gamble Co. and Sears, Roebuck & Co., according to an analysis by Santiago Solutions Group.

The analysis used TNS Media Intelligence/CMR data for the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.

in the middle

AHAA has long complained that marketers only devote about 5% of their ad budgets to the Latino market. At the top end of the scale, consumer electronics marketers allocate an average of 18% of their budgets toward Hispanics, followed by 10.4% for food and drug retailers, according to AHAA figures.

Automakers are in the middle, at about 4.5%, a sign of progress from the days when Hispanics were often wrongly stereotyped as only buying used cars. At the bottom, financial services marketers devote only 2.1% of their ad budgets on average to the Hispanic market (see HSBC in "Work" below).

GM increased its buys in the first quarter on national Spanish-language TV networks to $20 million from $12 million a year ago, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. While the marketer's spending also rose in Spanish-language magazines, Sunday newspapers and dailies, the dollars weren't nearly as large as in TV, CMR data shows. Hispanics watch more TV than the general market, Ms. Green said.

The increased attention is paying off. GM's Hispanic market share rose a full 1% at the end of calendar 2003 vs. 2002, she said.

Strategic Vision data concurs. The auto consultancy said the percentage of GM buyers who reported they were Hispanic rose to 4.5% in the 2003 model year from 3.6% the prior model year, which runs from October through March. Dan Gorrell, a VP at Strategic Vision, said those figures likely are a bit low since the questionnaires were in English, although he added that most Hispanics who buy new vehicles speak English.

cultural understanding

All GM's vehicle brands advertise nationally to Hispanics, except Buick, which prefers regional ads. Accentmarketing, Miami, 49% owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., won GM's consolidated Hispanic account in 2001.

GM North American President "Gary Cowger is our champion," said Ms. Green. Mr. Cowger, who lived in Mexico while president of the carmaker's operations there, "understands the culture and what the culture needs and he pushes a lot through." Mr. Cowger, who speaks Spanish, even appeared in Spanish-language TV commercials last year for GM.

The automaker's GMC all-truck brand broke its broadest Spanish-language magazine blitz with seven ads from Accentmarketing in July titles.

Teresa Meehan, advertising manager at the brand, said GMC's Hispanic 2003 market share was equal to its general-market share. Since 2001, GMC's Hispanic share in the Western region has been higher than its general-market share there; 54% of GMC's Hispanic buyers vs. 22% of its general market buyers are in that region.

pontiac push

GM's Pontiac arm is readying its biggest Hispanic blitz ever as part of the introduction of its all-new G6 sedan in late summer. The marketer said last week it inked a deal with Latina race car driver Milka Duno to appear in the integrated Hispanic G6 blitz from Accentmarketing.

At the same time, a :30 TV spot for Pontiac's Vibe called "City Lights" featuring Panamanian band Rabanes broke about a month ago.

Chevrolet will break new Spanish-language TV spots two weeks before the Olympics with the theme "Subete" (Come on board), featuring popular Latino music and tied to the Summer Games. GM's biggest brand reupped for a second year title sponsorship of El Premio de la Gente, popular music awards voted by fans. Chevrolet will sponsor voting with boxes at dealerships, appearances by nominees and ads during the awards show broadcast in September on Telemundo.

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