Most marketers park Hispanic buying at full-service shops

By Published on .

Hispanic full-service ad agencies still dominate media buying in the $3.4 billion Hispanic market. Unlike the general market, where media buying moved to specialist agencies more than a decade ago, only three of the top 10 media buyers are specialist media shops, according to an exclusive ranking compiled by Advertising Age.

The behemoth in the market is Publicis Groupe's fast-growing multicultural-media-buying unit Tapestry. More than twice as big as anyone else, Chicago-based Tapestry rolls up the Hispanic-media billings of marketers who work with Starcom, Mediavest and GM Planworks, which handles General Motors Corp., and some of the media business for Publicis-owned Hispanic creative agencies. Last year Procter & Gamble, the biggest advertiser in the U.S. Hispanic market, added media buying to the planning assignment already at Tapestry (General Motors was the No. 2 Hispanic advertiser in 2005, spending over $100 million). Tapestry's revenue grew about 30% in 2005, the agency estimated.

Staying full-service

Hispanic agencies work hard to remain full-service, hanging on to media planning and buying. Independents like the Vidal Partnership, New York; Zubi Advertising, Miami; and Lopez Negrete Communications do most of their own media buying. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Casanova Pendrill, Los Angeles, is also known for having a strong media department. Although Casanova shares a number of clients with McCann Erickson, the Hispanic shop keeps the media buying.

"Media-buying agencies [except] Tapestry haven't smartened up," said one media director. "They haven't done an assessment, looking at general-market clients and seeing what percentage of that media goes to Hispanic."

That could change. Three of Carat's four biggest Hispanic clients-Hyundai's Hyundai and Kia cars, Radio Shack and Rent-A-Center, a rent-to-own service for furniture and electronics-were at full-service Hispanic ad agencies Dieste, Harmel & Partners, Dallas, and independent Cartel Creativo, San Antonio, before moving to Carat. Pfizer is Carat's other big Hispanic client. All are Carat clients in the general market.

Asked how often she goes along on Carat's new-business pitches, Lisa Contreras-Torres, VP-head of multicultural services at Carat USA, says: "Always."

"It's happening across the board," she said. "All the RFPs include multicultural."

Hispanic media owners, like Spanish-language network Univision, increasingly court general market agencies, making them more aware of the potential dollars on the table in the Hispanic market.

WPP Group's MindShare, Interpublic's Initiative and Publicis-owned ZenithOptimedia all said their Hispanic media billings are under $50 million, the cutoff for the ranking. ZenithOptimedia has ethnic-media specialists who speak languages like Spanish and Chinese, but not a separate multicultural unit. MindShare has a small, separate Hispanic buying unit and also has some Hispanic buying embedded in the main MindShare group, a MindShare executive said.

"We believe in integrating multicultural with the general market," said a ZenithOptimedia executive. Zenith and Optimedia do some Hispanic buying on behalf of clients like L'Oreal, Chase, HP and Georgia Pacific, he said.

Taking another approach, Omnicom Group's OMD formed OMD Latino two years ago with the media department of Miami-based Del Rivero Messianu DDB.

Some see an opportunity. Alejandro Clabiorne, the media director of WPP-owned Hispanic shop Wing Latino, spends every Tuesday and Thursday at MediaComLatino, formed three years ago by Wing and MediaCom. During his two days a week at the MediaCom office, Mr. Clabiorne helps the agency win more business by adding a multicultural component to MediaCom's general-market pitches. He pitched jointly with MediaCom in Volkswagen of America's media review last year. MediaCom and MediaCom Latino won the media business from MPG and MPG Diversity.

"A lot of what we've been winning are Hispanic assignments from MediaCom pitches," he said.

There are almost no media-only pitches in the U.S. Hispanic market. That may explain why the only sizeable independent Hispanic media buyer, Amistad Media Group, closed its doors at the end of January after 11 years. Billings had hovered around $44 million, but after losing clients like the Army (now at Casanova Pendrill) and with few new business prospects, David Flynn Huerta, the agency's founder and managing director, called it quits. Mr. Flynn said that in 11 years, he participated in only two media-only reviews.

Hispanic media business tends to move either with the creative account, or with the general-market media business.

"Clients are either looking for an ethnic specialist or a media specialist," said Monica Gadsby, Tapestry's CEO. "To say they're looking for an ethnic-media specialist is slicing the pie really thin."

The largest Hispanic agency, Publicis-backed Bromley Communications, San Antonio, doesn't appear in the ranking because buying for many of its accounts is done by other agencies, although Bromley handles media planning for Nestle and AstraZeneca. Another Publicis creative agency, Conill, made the ranking on the strength of doing the media buying for two big clients, Toyota Motor Corp. and T-Mobile.

Hispanic creative agencies are also growing in ways that are not reflected in the media buying ranking. In addition to Vidal's media billings, the agency has growing revenue from promotions, public relations, direct marketing and online work. At Zubi, media billings are flat but the agency is seeing growth in customer relationship marketing and digital efforts.

If the Hispanic market follows the general market, media specialists will make greater inroads, although the whole concept of the general market may erode. "As lines become more gray, notably the Latin-ization of America and the acculturation of some Hispanics, it will be very difficult not to think of a total market," said Ms. Gadsby.

In this article:
Most Popular