Radio campaigns rarely win "Best of Show" awards, but Heineken's cleverly written U.S. Hispanic advertising from the Vidal Partnership sparkles over all ad media with its wordplay and cultural nuances (see Page S-6).
"One of the challenges we give Vidal is that everything should contain a unique Hispanic insight relevant to the brand," says , Heineken brand manager at Heineken USA.
The winning "Traducciones" ("Translations") radio campaign was born out of the twists and turns of Mexican slang, juxtaposed with a deadpan, sentence-by-sentence translation into standard Spanish of a happy-go-lucky Mexican beer drinker's party tale.
"We liked it so much we said, `Why don't we do it as different nationalities and talk about a beer drinking moment?' " Ms. Riancho says.
The campaign quickly grew to include spots featuring incompre-hensibly colloquial Dominican, Puerto Rican and even Argentine, typical of the unusually close and collaborative relationship Ms. Riancho, 33, has with her agency. She was an account director at New York-based Vidal for more than three years before Heineken hired her a year and a half ago to spear-head its fast-growing Hispanic efforts as a brand manager at the company's White Plains, N.Y., offices.
Before that, Ms. Riancho, who was raised in Puerto Rico by a Cuban mother and a Puerto Rican father, worked at agencies in San Juan and spent a year in Argentina with BankBoston, communicating the bank's new corporate identity throughout Latin America following a merger.
This year, Heineken increased its Hispanic budget, including production, retail, sponsorship and promotions, by 200% to 300%, says Steve Davis, Heineken's VP-marketing.
"It's been a real learning experience," Mr. Davis says. "We were impressed with Marime when she was working with Vidal. Having her here to drive this has been great."
Up to 25% of Heineken's U.S. sales are to Hispanics, but it's a tough market because the Dutch brew barely exists in Mexico, the country of origin for two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics or their families. Current TV spots in party settings play up a popular Mexican bingo-like game called Loteria and "top Mexican lies" like "I'll have another one and then I'll leave." And when a trendy slang expression popped up in Mexico describing Thursday as the day for drinking by dubbing it juevebes (a contraction of "Thursday" and "drink"), the word soon appeared on Heineken out-of-home ads, followed by more U.S. Hispanic ads with Heineken-invented words for other days of the week.
Meanwhile, Ms. Riancho is plotting strategy for 2003. She keeps in mind that a radio DJ she's heard about in Houston keeps playing the "Traducciones" spots simply because he likes them.
"How can we top that?" she asks. "Maybe it will live next year and we'll create new stories."
Advertising and Marketing Planning
In American Airlines' latest Hispanic campaign, titled "Brazos" ("Arms"), TV viewers see a polished sequence of people, from a yoga practitioner to a man gazing happily up at rain, with arms outstretched in warm gestures of comfort and welcome (see Page S-6).
But what Rob Britton remembers is a Zubi Advertising creative executive he had never met before turning up in his Dallas office without a storyboard or research and performing his idea for a spot.
"He said he didn't like storyboards and asked if it was OK to act it out with music," says Mr. Britton, describing his first meeting with Hector Prado, Zubi's exuberant new associate creative director.
"I put on the music and I started doing the commercial," Mr. Prado recalls. "I opened my arms and changed my character."
Then there was a long silence.
"It was so memorable and touching," Mr. Britton says. "In my 20 years of airline marketing, it was one of the coolest moments."
Those 20 years began after Mr. Britton got a Ph.D. in geography, taught college, then went to business school "to recycle myself as an airline guy." After varied American Airlines jobs, he took charge of the carrier's U.S. and international advertising, media, and direct marketing-three weeks after Sept. 11.
While the tenor of its U.S. general-market advertising was more influenced by the terrorist attacks, the airline's U.S. Hispanic work addressed research showing that Latinos understood that American is a major carrier to Latin America but found the airline somewhat aloof.
Besides adding warmth to the brand, the open-arms imagery of the "Brazos" commercial and related print ads is regarded as a springboard for future development.
"It's the first in a series of spots playing off the theme of raised arms," Mr. Britton says. "It demonstrates figuratively the breadth of our network, like a child saying, `So big.' And it's an opportunity to express the idea of space-we're the only airline that has taken seats out of coach to give more room."
Since the advertising began airing, calls to American's Spanish-language call center have increased, he says.
Zubi's Mr. Prado says American wants to run the campaign in Mexico, and is researching it for Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela.
Before landing at the Coral Gables, Fla., agency and embracing the "Arms" theme, Mr. Britton says, American "jumped around on an annual basis. We're committed to `Brazos' for at least two or three years."
He adds: " `Arms' has legs."
VP-Marketing and Creative Director
MTV Latin America
A lifelong multitasker, Cristian Jofre is both the head of marketing and the creative director at MTV Latin America.
He has had less compatible dual roles. Back in his native Chile, Mr. Jofre, 30, had a series of overlapping jobs that included newspaper reporter, magazine editor, agency creative director and consultant to a national TV channel trying to change its image from voice of the former military dictatorship to advocate of democracy. Mr. Jofre was creative director at Ammirati Puris Lintas in Santiago when he moved to Miami Beach, Fla., in 1996 to join Viacom as creative director of MTV's and Nickelodeon's Latin American operations, adding the VP-marketing role a year and a half ago.
At MTV, Mr. Jofre was troubled that the daily video show "Los 10 Mas Pedidos" ("The 10 Most Requested") was airing too much bland popular music like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. He hired La Comunidad to create commercials to inspire viewers to make more and edgier online requests for videos. The agency created some 20 spots of people doing revolting things, with the tagline "We don't judge what people like. We just show it." Requests did triple, according to La Comunidad, but Mr. Jofre admits that viewers were still asking for Britney.
"It was more of a philosophical statement, to put on the street that this is your show," he says.
Besides the ad campaign, Mr. Jofre also turned over to La Comunidad the task of creating the whole look of the show, including bumpers and credits.
"We don't have an agency-client relationship," says Mr. Jofre, who hangs out with agency Director Jose Molla at La Comunidad's Miami Beach office, a poolside villa by the beach. "Because I'm in charge of marketing and creative, I understand things can change during a shoot. I don't need a detailed storyboard, and I know where creative people are going when they present an idea."
Although MTV Latin America doesn't air in the U.S. Hispanic market, which is covered by MTV en Espanol, Mr. Jofre says "Los 10 Mas Pedidos" and its ads have run on the digital platform of MTV en Espanol, reaching some U.S. viewers that way.
In the not-too-distant future, Mr. Jofre-who started working at 18, juggling college with a full-time copywriter job at Young & Rubicam-says he wants to experience the more carefree life he missed back then. He says he hopes to travel and end up with "a very simple job."
Mr. Jofre is strangely drawn to the idea of running an orange juice stand in Indonesia and has even checked out the country's supply of inexpensive oranges. But keeping it simple may be hard for him.
"I know I'd start to add [fruit like] strawberries, and then I'd franchise it," he says. "I'd do commercials for my orange juice factory."