Monica Gadsby

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As the first and still foremost U.S. Hispanic media expert, Monica Gadsby anticipates what marketers will need to know to reach that market effectively.

The CEO of Tapestry, Publicis Groupe's multicultural media unit, noticed recently that her major clients were all struggling with one very big question. "How do I allocate my dollars?" she says. "How do I know how much is too much and how much is too little, for the general market vs. Hispanic vs. African-American?"

To help answer that question, Ms. Gadsby developed a budgeting tool called Fair Share to help marketers determine their multicultural budget allocation.

"It takes all the variables into account, [like] demographic trends, cross-cultural consumption of media, contribution to revenue, relative cost, competitive pressures," she says.

Then she presented Fair Share to her accounts-Procter & Gamble Co., Kraft Foods, Masterfoods USA, Miller Brewing Co. and Walt Disney Co. "Fair Share is defining a new next level for clients," she says. "They're not all ready to fully embrace it, but it gives them the direction they're heading for. My job is to be an agent of change."

"Monica's a pretty brainy individual," says Gilbert Davila, VP-multicultural marketing at Disney. "She takes time to analyze things. ... Monica's a real student of the multicultural marketplace, in addition to all the obvious media knowledge."

Ms. Gadsby, 39, says she became a pioneer U.S. Hispanic media expert by accident. She joined Leo Burnett Co. in 1987. Within a year P&G was calling on its agencies to develop expertise in marketing to U.S. Hispanics, prompting Ms. Gadsby's boss to recall that she spoke Spanish. As a Brazilian who was raised in Brussels, Ms. Gadsby wasn't an obvious Spanish-speaker. But she went to college in Texas, hanging out in a dorm full of Mexican-American girls who watched novelas and picked up a language that is similar to her native Portuguese.

In 1998 Ms. Gadsby started Starcom Hispanic, embedded in Burnett's new Starcom media agency. In 2001 Starcom Hispanic evolved into Tapestry, adding African-American and then Asian-American media expertise. As CEO, Ms. Gadsby splits her time between clients, new business and managing a staff of 35 that controls 15% to 20% of national Hispanic media spending.

As Hispanic media proliferate and demographic changes accelerate, Ms. Gadsby's job becomes more complex. Continued immigration fuels use of Spanish, but the growing number of U.S.-born Hispanics speak English and often go back and forth between languages, a duality that marketers also need to recognize. "And how does Spanglish fit in?" Ms. Gadsby asks. "To some it's unacceptable, and to others it's a cultural phenomenon."

Most of her Tapestry clients are shared with Starcom Media Group. Unlike the general market, there aren't really separate pitches for multicultural media. Media tend to be assigned as part of either a multicultural review for a creative agency or a general-market media pitch. About 90% of general-market media reviews now ask a few questions about multicultural capability, she says.

"The future is more units like ours embedded in mega-media entities," Ms. Gadsby says.

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