Multicultural Media Shops Carve Out More Roster Space

Even Split in Two, Tapestry Units Top Ad Age Rankings List That Includes Eight Full-Service Shops

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Almost every major media-agency network now has its own multicultural unit, a big shift from just a year ago.
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Monica Gadsby, CEO of SMG Multicultural,

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Who's Buying
Top Hispanic agency billings from media planning and buying

The market is changing fast, but eight of the top 15 Hispanic media buyers are still full-service Latino agencies, according to the second annual ranking compiled by Advertising Age. Almost all the Hispanic media buyers, whether media specialists or full-service agencies, saw major growth in 2006.

Since last fall, MindShare Multicultural, ZO Multicultural and Mediaedge:cia's MEC Bravo have joined the market.

Making room for multicultural
And the behemoth of the business, Publicis Groupe's Tapestry, split into two units in March to give Starcom and MediaVest their own multicultural media specialist.

Even operating separately, the two units -- now called Tapestry and 42 Degrees at MediaVest -- take the No. 1 and No. 2 slots. Their combined 2006 billings of $530 million are up 38.7% from 2005. Adding in African-American media billings, the 2006 total reached $750 million.

"The key driver for us is one of integration," says Monica Gadsby, who oversees both Tapestry and 42 Degrees at MediaVest as CEO of SMG Multicultural, which will include Tapestry's digital-innovation unit and an insights operation that invests in proprietary research. "To continue to be true to that model of integration and total marketing solutions, we need two brands embedded in the general-market [brands] MediaVest and Starcom for the multicultural market."

On a smaller scale, Publicis' ZenithOptimedia started ZO Multicultural last September, headed by Ilia Leon as director-multicultural media.

Leaping forward
WPP Group's three media agencies have been the most aggressive in the past few months. MindShare in February set up MindShare Multicultural, headed by Halim Trujillo, a former MindShare client in his native Mexico who was most recently media director at a small Omnicom Group-backed Hispanic shop called Cultura, Dallas.

In a more gradual evolution, Alejandro Clabiorne, who split his time between his media-director role at Grey Worldwide Group's Hispanic agency, Winglatino, and MediaCom Latino, has moved full time to WPP's MediaCom as VP-multicultural director.

Mediaedge:cia is behind the most ambitious start-up. Late last year, the company formed MEC Bravo, folding in the media department from WPP's Bravo Group, one of the largest Hispanic agencies. To run the operation, Gonzalo del Fa, managing director of MEC Argentina, moved to New York from Buenos Aires. (MEC Bravo will enter the media-buying rankings next year).

Joining in with general-market pitches
For Hispanic media specialists, the key to new business is being included in the general-market agency's pitches as marketers increasingly ask about multicultural capabilities. That's why Mr. del Fa moved MEC Bravo into Mediaedge:cia's New York offices.

"If you're sitting with a client and he says the word Hispanic, you have to call me, and I have to be there," Mr. del Fa tells Mediaedge:cia executives.

"Perhaps the most important thing is we go as Mediaedge and present ourselves as the Hispanic division of Mediaedge, and we're 100% integrated," he says. "If I go with Bravo, I'm the media department of Bravo."

In the future, he says, clients will say, "Here's all the money I have. What are the options for general market and Hispanic? You tell me how to split it."

Full-service agencies' media departments are still major planners and buyers in the multicultural area. After the top two slots in the rankings, the next three agencies -- the Vidal Partnership, GlobalHue and Dieste Harmel & Partners -- are full-service shops that saw their 2006 Hispanic media billings grow 17%, 38% and 28%, respectively, over the previous year.
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