NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- During the eight years Graciela Eleta headed multicultural marketing at Procter & Gamble Co., she presided over the biggest ad budget in the U.S. Hispanic market, at over $100 million.
Now she's working with marketers who often are still figuring out which brands should target Hispanics, and how to do it. That's why Ms. Eleta can be found enthusiastically leading a dozen Kraft Foods execs, none of them Hispanic, on a market-immersion tour in New Jersey that includes a Hispanic grocery store and lunch at a Cuban restaurant.
Spanish-language-media giant Univision Communications grabbed Ms. Eleta in early 2008 after she left P&G, when the company moved its U.S. multicultural-marketing headquarters from Puerto Rico back to Cincinnati. A voluble whirlwind, Ms. Eleta is from Panama and has spent most of her career in Puerto Rico.
"I was brought in to help transform Univision from a media vendor to a strategic partner," said Ms. Eleta, 46, senior VP-brand solutions*. She leads a unit called the Brand Solutions Group that essentially functions as a separate, 15-person consulting practice within Univision. "You'd be surprised how many brands out there are not part of the [Hispanic] marketplace."
With Kraft, she works with brand teams on products including Kool-Aid, Kraft Singles and Crystal Light to help them understand the Hispanic consumer, build the business case within their own company for targeting Hispanics in Spanish, review products and packaging, and help determine creative.
"Graciela has played a key role in helping Kraft Foods' brand teams better understand the Hispanic consumer based on her vast experience as a marketer and deep consumer insights, and she truly brings passion and energy to her work," said Christine M. McGrath, senior director of the Marketing Cohorts Group at Kraft Foods.
Although Univision boasts of being the fourth-largest TV network in any language among young adults 18 to 34 and owns the most-watched TV station in Los Angeles, a big Spanish-language TV buy is not a natural first step for companies relatively new to the Hispanic market.
"We've been on a journey in this consulting practice," Ms. Eleta said. "We've found out how to successfully conduct a consulting session, to understand clients and their doubts, questions and issues, and how to develop tools for them and then value-added solutions."
"Because we're in a great recession," she said, "Hispanics become more attractive as one of the few places clients can look at growth and be associated with it."
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified Ms. Eleta as VP-brand solutions. She is senior VP.