AGENCY EXECS SAY MARKETERS WANT IN: GLOBALIZED MARKETING BRINGS NEW BUSINESS TO HISPANIC SHOPS

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Competition among Hispanic agencies is expected to increase as the U.S. Hispanic consumer becomes more important to marketers.

Ad spending against the estimated 30 million Hispanic consumers is rising, according to Hispanic Business. In 1997, the top 50 marketers targeting these consumers spent a combined $392.8 million, compared with $325.3 million in 1996.

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Consumer spending has been estimated at between $273 billion by Strategy Research Corp. and $356 billion by Univision Communications.

Increased access to media has given advertisers and agencies ways to tap consumers that until a few years ago rested with two TV networks and local-market daily or weekly newspapers, says Ana Maria Fernandez Haar, president of Hispanic specialty shop IAC Advertising, Miami.

New media launches include print titles and revamped programming line-ups from both Telemundo Group and Univision Communications.

"Those of us who have been in the business through its early lean years are more than gratified today," says Ms. Fernandez Haar. "Our job is considerably easier, but obviously more competitive because it's highly profitable."

Other agencies also have grown as marketers' awareness of the Hispanic market increases.

Casanova Pendrill Publicidad, Irvine, Calif., saw billings grow to $50 million in 1997 from $45 million the year before, says President Paul Casanova.

STRONG ECONOMY HELPS

While some of the growth has been organic -- Tampico Corp. took its regional citrus juice national, General Mills launched new brands and Home Depot has instituted a stronger focus on its existing Hispanic marketing efforts -- others are slowly taking advantage of a strong economy to explore new areas, Mr. Casanova says.

"For some, the Hispanic market is unproven, and every once in a while they'll allow something to be tested," he says. "And to a lot of people's surprise, it works."

As barriers in the hemisphere fall, some agencies find their workload shifting from solely U.S. Hispanic to panregional work throughout the Americas. Thus, what had been a budget to reach a market of 30 million U.S. consumers has become expenditures to target another 479 million in Latin America, says Adolfo Aguilar, president chief creative officer at Bromley Aguilar & Associates, San Antonio.

Many marketers whose sights are set on global markets are turning to U.S. Hispanic agencies to implement programs in Latin America, says Mr. Augilar.

Continental Airlines, Avon and Western Union are three such clients who have broadened U.S. work to include all of the Americas, he says.

GLOBALIZATION ADDS TO BILLINGS

For the agencies, that means a $2 million account grows to become a $10 million account, says Mr. Aguilar.

"In the past, there's been a lot of talk about how U.S. Hispanic agencies are going to participate in this globalization process," he notes. "Now it's happening. That's good news."

Hispanic ad executives say they have pushed long and hard to increase the pie. Those efforts include the formation of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, a two-year-old trade group created to foment awareness among non-Hispanic marketers (www.ahaa.org).

Earlier this year, AHAA paired up with Univision in a marketing program designed to increase general marketer awareness of the Hispanic market. AHAA executives have hit the pavement, meeting with executives, extolling the merits of the market and generally trying to create interest in the segment.

Hispanics, who once had been an unnecessary audience among marketers, have become an important group to help "close consumption gaps" among mature brands, says Tony Dieste, president of Dieste & Partners, Dallas. Clients such as HBO, Miller Genuine Draft, Pizza Hut and Southwest Airlines each have maintained or increased spending against the segment, he says.

"It's not a necessary evil anymore," says Mr. Dieste, who considers himself part ad executive and part educator. "It's a necessity to grow brand share in the Hispanic market."

SPENDING ON THE RISE

For many marketers, the answer should be logical, says Hector Orci, co-chairman of La Agencia de Orci y Asociados, Los Angeles, and founding president of AHAA. His agency saw billings grow to $55 million this year from $47 million last year, he says.

Clients such as Honda Motor Sales of America, Allstate Insurance Co. and Washington Mutual each have increased spending, representing emerging categories in banking, insurance and telecommunications.

"Our question is, `how much of the $300 billion are you interested in pursuing?' " he says. "You know that somebody is not paying attention. The price of not paying attention to the consumer is going up. Therefore, it's either get smart or lose share, and losing share is not acceptable on Wall Street."

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