Uva Looks to Build a Kinder, More Approachable Univision

CEO's Merchandising Plan, High-Profile Style Take Net in New Direction

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One of the first things Joe Uva did as the new CEO of Univision Communications was present every employee of the Spanish-language TV, radio and online network with a black "I heart Univision" T-shirt shrink-wrapped into a heart shape, with a note from Mr. Uva saying, "I heart Univision, and I hope you do too."
Joe Uva was onstage at Univision's upfront presentation; his predecessor tended to keep a lower profile.
Joe Uva was onstage at Univision's upfront presentation; his predecessor tended to keep a lower profile.

Huge change
That's a huge change from the way Univision was run before Mr. Uva arrived in April. A. Jerrold Perenchio, Univision's septuagenarian former CEO and a major shareholder, kept a low profile. At the annual upfront presentation, he sat in the audience. Mr. Uva was onstage this year, barely a month after joining Univision from OMD Worldwide, where he was CEO.

Since taking over a company perceived as aloof and inflexible because it was the undisputed market leader in U.S. Spanish-language media, Mr. Uva has opened up Univision. He's signed up the network to be a sponsor of Advertising Week, and is offering to partner with agencies and advertisers to do research. He's started a leadership council of about 20 executives across the group who meet monthly to look at challenges and opportunities, which had never happened before at Univision.

He's also taking the company into merchandising."It will be very aggressive," he said. "You will be able to buy merchandise online and in physical locations. We'll probably be testing it in the next couple months."

One of Mr. Uva's challenges is to bring more marketers into Spanish-language TV.

"A Simmons study showed that a Univision viewer between 18 and 34 who gets spoken to by a marketer in Spanish is three times more likely to be influenced by an ad that will motivate their purchase behavior than a viewer to an English-language broadcast," he said. "The underlying theme of our upfront was that we have this connectivity to our consumers in a way the other networks don't."
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