Melisa Quiñoy

Dieste Harmel & Partners

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Melisa Quiñoy, the new CEO of the biggest U.S. Hispanic agency, Dieste Harmel & Partners, spent the past nine years at MTV, in Miami and then London, and before that ran package-goods accounts such as Unilever for international agencies in Argentina, Australia and Mexico.

Her Latin roots, by way of Puerto Rico, are clear when Ms. Quiñoy talks about moving up the closing on her new home in Dallas last month by a day to avoid buying on Tuesday the 13th, a notorious bad-luck day that's the Friday the 13th of Latino culture.

Ms. Quiñoy, 45, started her career at a U.S. Hispanic agency and is returning to a much-changed Latino market two decades later.

"The exponential growth in the Hispanic market continues to be mind-boggling to me, and the biggest change is how the growth is shifting," she says. "The biggest growth is going to be coming from Hispanics born here, and their media-consumption habits are completely different."

Until recently, knowledge of the Spanish language and Hispanic immigrants was the stock in trade of traditional Hispanic agencies. Ms. Quiñoy is one of the new leaders in a market that's increasingly complex and bicultural -- and also more appealing to general-market agencies. The Hispanic shop of the future must be as good as any general-market agency eyeing its business.

"The lines are going to start blurring because of dual consumption of [English- and Spanish-language] media and language usage," Ms. Quiñoy says. "Knowledge of consumers is going to be more in-depth and psychographic than about demography and sheer numbers."

She has those tools. At MTV, Ms. Quiñoy headed a Viacom brand-solutions division, working on sales and marketing for MTV and Nickelodeon in Europe. Her group created customized solutions for major marketers including content production and digital products, and she oversaw teams specializing in consumer insights, media and creative.

"Dieste has always been about blazing the trail, innovation and leading the pack creatively," says Carmen Baez, president of Omnicom Group's Latin America Diversified Agency Services division, who hired Ms. Quiñoy. "Melisa, with her strong pedigree in all that is youth, digital, holistic business solutions, etc., is the perfect fit for the agency."

For Ms. Quiñoy, "It's more about evolution than revolution. We have exactly the people we want [at Dieste]. Now, we have to get together so the wheels are all moving in the same direction."
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