Opportunities: Beefing up Hispanic

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Faced with hardly any brand awareness among Spanish-dominant consumers who regularly eat at rival McDonald's and Burger King outlets, Wendy's International is the latest fast-feeder to commit a national advertising budget to reach Latinos.

In late February the No. 3 burger chain broke two Spanish-language spots by Vidal Partnership, New York. Before hiring Vidal, Wendy's did local Hispanic efforts through the Miami office of general market agency Bates Worldwide, part of Cordiant Communications Group, to learn about the market.

fourth place

This year Wendy's will spend an estimated $10 million, about 3.5% of its total media budget, on Spanish-language TV, radio and in-store displays. That leaves Wendy's fourth in spending after McDonald's Corp., the ninth largest Hispanic advertiser with a $27 million budget last year, Burger King at $20 million, and Tricon Global Restaurants, parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. And McDonald's and Burger King work with two of the most creative Hispanic ad agencies, Del Rivero Messianu DDB, Coral Gables, Fla., backed by Omnicom Group, and Bromley Communications, San Antonio, backed by Bcom3 Group.

Wendy's first Hispanic spots have some fun with the fact that the Wendy's name is virtually unknown to Spanish-dominant consumers. In one spot, a suspicious wife learns who Wendy really is after jealously attacking her businessman husband for writing another woman's name into his planner every day at lunchtime. The Spanish-language tagline "En Wendy's comer es mas rico" translates roughly to: At Wendy's eating is more enjoyable/tastes better.

"We couldn't pick up where we were in our general market advertising," said Don Calhoon, Wendy's exec VP-marketing. "[Brand awareness was] so low that the opportunity becomes extremely large."

Wendy's has a lot of catching up to do. According to a Yankelovich Hispanic Monitor poll of 1,206 Spanish-speaking consumers, 61% of respondents said they had visited McDonald's in the past 30 days, 45% ate at Burger King and 23% mentioned Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and Domino's Pizza.

McDonald's, after marketing to Hispanics for decades, is working to differentiate itself from growing competition through Latin music sponsorship and talent competitions in addition to targeted brand messages. Diageo's Burger King Corp. is also preparing a new Hispanic campaign as part of the chain's overall relaunch. Even smaller fast food players have Hispanic campaigns. In April, Subway Restaurants, for example, will break its second Hispanic effort from Havas Advertising's MVBMS Hispanic, New York.

"Telling the story about Wendy's and introducing the concept is only part of a bigger picture," Mr. Calhoon said. Future media buys will align with specific properties, including the World Cup and Latin award shows, he said.

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