Media diversity: Ethnic buying breaks out

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Before the April 16 opening of the U.S. Hispanic romantic comedy "Chasing Papi," about a trio of women who pursue the same hunky man, Chrysler began running a Spanish-language spot starring three women who go see the movie, then pursue in their Jeeps a driver they think is the film's star. On closer inspection, they realize he's not and lose interest-leaving him tied to his own Jeep.

What's unusual about the spot, though, isn't its plot but the agencies that handled it. Creative was done by GlobalHue, a multicultural agency negotiating to buy back Interpublic Group of Cos.' 49% stake. Media planning was handled by GlobalHue's New Perspectives Media and buying by Omnicom Group's PHD, Chrysler Group's media agency for the general market.

In the multicultural market, it's less common than in the general market to use separate agencies for creative and media. Sensing a trend, more and more companies are trying to develop expertise in Hispanic or multicultural media, although some are little more than a name on a door.

who was first?

At least three different groups all claim to be the first true multicultural media planning and buying entity: Publicis Groupe's Tapestry; MPG Diversity, a unit of Havas' Media Planning Group; and the GlobalHue entry, New Perspectives Media.

"The trend is moving towards what we do," said Ed Irons, president of New Perspectives Media.

U.S. Hispanic unit MPG Diversity split off from MPG's Latin American unit about two years ago, and added an African-American capability with Yum Brands' KFC as its first client.

"Multicultural media on its own is kind of a new concept," said Jorge Percovich, MPG Diversity's senior VP-managing director. "MPG is probably the first to identify an opportunity and create this division."

Tapestry is the most controversial, having started with great fanfare as an agglomeration of Starcom's Chicago-based Hispanic media unit, the media department of then-Bcom3 Group-backed Hispanic agency Bromley Communications, San Antonio, and a non-equity relationship with Unity Media, a mostly African-American media buyer. Now Tapestry is largely the former Starcom Hispanic unit with a recent African-American capability. Bromley operates on its own and Unity dropped out, citing a lack of business from the Tapestry connection.

In January 2003, two Grey Global Group companies, MediaCom and U.S. Hispanic agency Wing Latino, formed a partnership called MediaCom Latino. So far, it works only on clients the two agencies already shared, like Unilever's Slimfast and Diageo, and staff work in the same offices they always have at MediaCom and Wing Latino. But Jose Aybar, VP-managing director, MediaCom Latino, said it is a way to aggressively pursue new business together.

For now, the biggest multicultural chunk of business is still Hispanic shops buying Hispanic media.

Sometimes Hispanic agencies, especially independents, work with media buying services. Miami's Zubi Advertising handles creative for M&M/Mars and Americatel, working with Bromley's media department and Tapestry, respectively.

Sometimes there is a general-market connection. Volkswagen works with Arnold Worldwide and MPG, both part of Havas. Creative on Demand, VW's first U.S. Hispanic agency, works with MPG Diversity. Going beyond VW, the two are pitching together in H&R Block's Hispanic review.

One of the hottest debates, on the creative and media sides, is whether agencies should aim to be broadly multicultural or be Hispanic, African-American or Asian-American specialists.

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