New business streak: Doors opening wide

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Fast growth looks set to continue in 2002 for Hispanic ad agencies as they rush to keep up with new-business pitches and growing interest from marketers in reaching Hispanics.

In 2001, gross income at the 42 Hispanic ad agencies ranked by Advertising Age grew by an average of 17.3%, while that of general-market agencies shrank by 2.2% (AA, April 22). The 42 Hispanic agencies had combined 2001 billings of $2.2 billion, compared with $18.54 billion for general-market agencies.

So far this year, Zubi Advertising, Coral Gables, has already matched last year's 20% growth rate by picking up the $4 million Florida Lottery account, now in contract negotiations, and the Hispanic portion of the $25 million to $35 million Western Union account, said agency Exec VP Joe Zubi.

"Doors seem to open easier than in the general market and easier than ever before [in the Hispanic market]," said Alex Lopez Negrete, president-CEO of Lopez Negrete Communications, Houston. "There's a lot of inquiring going on, and research by clients."

`just barely waking up'

He cited a number of categories that are "just barely waking up" to the Hispanic market, such as pharmaceuticals, financial services, apparel, health and beauty aids and retail.

Take financial services. One of Mr. Lopez Negrete's clients, Bank of America, is quadrupling its total multicultural budget to more than $40 million this year (AA, April 1). And this month Fannie Mae picked its first Hispanic creative agency, Garcia/LKS, San Antonio, after years of simply translating its English-language advertising from general-market agency, Omnicom Group's GSD&M, into English, a GSD&M executive said.

JP Morgan Chase is holding a review for a Hispanic corporate account. And Citibank has just chosen Vidal Partnership, New York, for a new online money transfer project, according to Vidal CEO Manny Vidal.

H&R Block kicked off its first major Hispanic initiative in January 2002, installing 4,100 bilingual tax preparers at centers designated with an "E" for espanol on its Web site and airing warm, humorous Spanish-language commercials by Dieste Harmel & Partners, Dallas, partly owned by Omnicom. Carlos Ayala, H&R Block's manager of multicultural marketing, said Hispanic traffic this year grew in double digits.

Even the National Football League is eager to promote itself to Hispanic fans known for their allegiance to soccer and baseball. Armed with Nielsen Media Research findings that ABC's "Monday Night Football" was the second-most-watched program in Hispanic homes last year after Fox's "The Simpsons," and the existence of Hispanic radio broadcasts already for nine teams, the NFL formed an internal task force to look at the Hispanic market, said Marjorie Rodgers, senior director-marketing and entertainment programming. The NFL has narrowed its search to two agencies, Vidal and Lumina America, New York.

coors review

One of the biggest Hispanic reviews around is by Coors Brewing Co., overseen by Paul Mendieta, director, ethnic marketing-Hispanic. Shops have already submitted requested information and case studies to Coors and are waiting for the marketer to pick finalists to carry out a creative assignment. The estimated $20 million account was at Casanova Pendrill, Irvine, Calif., partly owned by Interpublic Group of Cos. Heineken's Hispanic agency Vidal will also do the first Hispanic ads for sibling brand Amstel Light.

On the promotional side, Kellogg Co. is seeking Hispanic promotion agencies and Vidal is being added to Coca-Cola Co.'s roster for promotions after opening an Atlanta office. And for agencies hungry for fast food, Denny's expects to have new agencies in place for the Hispanic, African-American and general markets by the beginning of July. Denny's currently works with Publicis, Sanchez & Levitan, Miami, Chisholm Mingo Group, Los Angeles, and WestWayne, Tampa, Fla.

contributing: rich thomaselli

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