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When manny gonzalez became the brand manager for Miller Brewing Co.'s Miller Genuine Draft last August, his mission included tapping the Hispanic market.

As the former marketing director for La Opinion, the Spanish-language daily in Los Angeles, he understood the Hispanic passion for music and propensity to read daily papers.

The executive also knew the publication would work with him to create a flexible advertising package.


The result was an ad wrapped around Rockalendario, a weekly show and concert guide teeming with rock en Espanol shows. Running every Thursday -- the second highest readership day of the week -- the section reaches young Latino consumers. It has helped promote both Miller and its brand's Solo con Invitacion (By Invitation Only) Latino concert series.

"They really got creative with us," says Mr. Gonzalez. "We didn't want to be the standard rectangular or square ad. This raised the creative bar. These publications are willing to be as creative as radio or TV."

Though Hispanic TV advertising gets much of the headlines, newspapers continue to deliver Hispanics to marketers nationwide. About 32.4 million Hispanics live in the U.S., up from 30.5 million reported just last year, according to Strategy Research Corp., and the number is expected to soar to 34.4 million by 2000. The group's annual buying power is estimated around $301 billion.


In 1970, there were about 232 Hispanic newspapers with a combined circulation of 955,000 and $14 million in advertising revenue, according to National Hispanic Media Directory. By 1990, 355 papers with a combined circulation of 4.2 million were earning $141 million in revenues. Last year, that number hit 515 dailies and weeklies with a combined circulation of 12.7 million and $445 million in advertising sales, according to the directory.

In all, about 1,250 Hispanic-oriented newspapers target the segment.

While hundreds of smaller weeklies dot the nation, fewer than two dozen dailies exist in the market, says Kirk Whisler, directory publisher and principal with the Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, Calif., a one-order, one-bill media buyer for more than 120 Hispanic newspapers.


That advertisers were asking for the simplified ordering model convinces Mr. Whisler that the Hispanic newspaper market continues to emerge as a strong medium.

What's more, Newspaper National Network, a sales and marketing initiative funded by 47 large-circulation newspapers in the U.S. and operated under the administrative auspices of the Newspaper Association of America, will begin selling ads for both Amalgamated Publishers, which represents 200 African-American weeklies and dailies, as well as LPN.


According to Mr. Whisler, these types of deals increase overall exposure for the industry.

For every dollar in advertising sold by the Latino network, another $3 to $5 are sold directly by individual member newspapers through leads generated by the network, he says.

"People are realizing the need," says Mr. Whisler, but acknowledged, "We're still laying the foundation." What the deals also will do is possibly drive national ad sales to local ethnic newspapers, he notes.


Miller had similar success reaching young Latinos using local newspapers like La Opinion or New York's Diario La Prensa, Mr. Gonzalez says.

The company also is preparing to move into the Miami market later this year.

"Most people would be amazed at how well Hispanic publications attract the 21-to-34-year-old reader," Mr. Gonzalez says.

Thanks to these initiatives, awareness of Spanish-language print is growing among marketers.


"Print is quickly gaining a lot more attention as a way of reaching Latino consumers," says Mr. Gonzalez. "For a long time, Hispanic TV has gotten away with a clear advantage. Hispanic ad agencies have been very biased in terms of TV. From our perspective that is something good. Going after the young Latino consumers, we know we don't necessarily have to reach him through TV. Print and radio are extremely good tools."

Still, marketing executives are looking for more Spanish-language dailies. Though popular general-market magazine titles are debuting Spanish-language versions, such as People en Espanol, Glamour en Espanol or even National Geographic, "We definitely are limited," says Mr. Gonzalez.

The lack of dailies also hamstrings media buyers, says Carlos Cintron, president of MediaWorks, a San Antonio-based media buying shop. When Mr. Cintron was placing ads for Liberty Media and Pueblo Financial Corp. in major markets in the last quarter of 1998, he was forced to tap weekly Hispanic publications to achieve market penetration, he says.


In recent years, improvements have been made in the design, creative and print quality of ethnic publications, Mr. Cintron says. Still, most are weeklies based in markets where strong general market publications serve bilingual, acculturated Hispanics who move freely between both segments, he says.

"The Hispanic press does have a difficult time establishing itself," he says. "There are few newspapers available on a daily basis that truly target Hispanics. I don't see that changing soon. It takes a mass quantity or threshold for a newspaper to become viable."

Hispanic print is facing a "real need" to grow the business, and the papers are making changes, Susanna Whitmore, director of display advertising with La Opinion in Los Angeles.

The paper is styling itself after counterparts throughout Latin America, where dailies are strongly positioned. Papers are improving editorial quality, and are becoming more attuned to their advertisers' needs, says Ms. Whitmore.

Some Spanish-language publishers complain that the need comes also as general-market newspaper organizations capitalize on the segment's growth and bring aggressive marketing programs to the industry.


La Opinion also has taken a more aggressive role to change its advertisement programs.

Along with its peers in the industry, it's providing more promotional packages, community event sponsorship, pre-prints, inserts and ROP alternatives, Ms. Whitmore says. Newspapers are letting marketers tap their prominence in the Hispanic community to garner credibility at a grassroots level, she adds.

"It's not just an ROP ad. We can offer branding opportunities now. This isn't what print media traditionally did," Ms. Whitmore says. "Obviously to get our fair share of the pie we need to be a little more practiced. We need to be more

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