100 Most Influential Women in Advertising

Tere Zubizarreta's Compassion Made Her Crown Jewel of Hispanic Ad Industry

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Tere Zubizarreta

Founder, Zubi Advertising Services

When Tere Zubizarreta became the first Hispanic woman -- and only the second Latino -- inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Fame earlier this year, her former Ford Motor Co. client and current Leo Burnett exec Rich Stoddart said, "With Tere, everything was personal, and everything was about people." He noted she taught Ford it's "not enough to advertise in Hispanic media; we had to become part of the Hispanic community."

Known even to her clients as Mama Zubi, Ms. Zubizarreta opened Zubi Advertising Services in 1976, 16 years after fleeing Cuba as a young wife and mother to settle in Miami with her family. Her first job was as a secretary at McCann Marschalk.

She was part of a generation of pioneros who started the first agencies targeting Spanish-speaking immigrants at a time many marketers either saw little value in Hispanic consumers or addressed them using stereotypes. She educated her clients, and sometimes simply told them, "You'll just have to trust me." And they did.

Zubi's big leap was winning Ford, still the agency's biggest client, in 1995. At the pitch, Ms. Zubizarreta didn't just promise to open regional offices to handle the nationwide account; she turned up with leases in hand for those cities. And she put Ford on a conference call with her other clients, and left them alone to talk about her agency.

"She was a woman of incredible faith," said her daughter Michelle.

Mama Zubi was president-CEO, with son Joe as chief operating officer and Michelle as chief administrative officer. Zubi is the seventh-largest U.S. Hispanic agency, with 140 staffers and 2011 revenue of $19 million; it is the third-largest independent Latino shop.

One of the best-loved figures in the Hispanic ad industry and a true community leader, Ms. Zubizarreta lost a battle with cancer in July 2007, age 69. When Zubi moved this year from its old offices, where a portrait of Ms. Zubizarreta hung in the lobby, a mosaic of the portrait was commissioned as a piece of art for the new lobby.

See more: Most Influential Women in Advertising: The Pioneers
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