Are We Witnessing The End Of The Hispanic Advertising Agency, As We Know It?

All my professional life I've been listening. Not just to the message, but also to the context, clarity and efficiency of it.

And now, a very important phenomenon is occurring which has me with my best listening ears in place. Recently, I conversed with Sergio Alcocer, president of LatinWorks, about the state of Hispanic advertising, and I learned a few things.

Advertising as a global industry is undergoing an enormous transformation. I think that we will not be able to recognize it in a few years. To think of Hispanic advertising as separate from global advertising implies a backtracking of sorts, an undermining of who we are.

With social media, the platforms to deliver a message have multiplied. As an advertiser, you have to contemplate the fact that your message can now transcend beyond the traditional platforms such as TV, radio and printed media. Now you are part of the brand's biography. In some way, brands now live in terms of the personality people attach to them.



Another way in which the influence of these new mediums is evident and very significant, is the speed with which an advertiser has to be able to adapt to the changes in consumer trends. It's indispensable that now the clients and the agencies have much more flexible and nimble structures that are less comfortable by having a niche. Now, more than ever, there is the need to switch from a service industry model to an industry of ideas. Thus, to generate ideas and solutions can't be the sole responsibility of the creative department anymore. The whole agency has to become a company of ideas and solutions for its clients that are creative in all aspects.

If you have been paying attention to what's happened in the industry over the last two years, you'll know that the global obsession is in coming up with new work models.

We have also realized that TV, per se, is not going to die or that what is needed now is the new "Digital Agency." I think that we are witnessing the triumph of what some call the "Tra-Digital Agency" which transcends the media barriers and can maintain, across all of them, a congruency with the story that the brand wants to communicate.

We have to be aware of how important it is for Hispanic agencies to transform, even faster, into a flexible partner who understands the needs of the ever-changing market we deal with. Hispanic agencies do have an advantage due to their flexibility to adapt rapidly.

What I consider to be the biggest challenge is that our industry has to stop relying on the Spanish language as their strategy or the justification for their existence as an agency.

In the first place, the immediate growth of the Hispanic market will not be due to immigration, but to birth. Then, the language has to stop being a strategy and become a simple tactic. We need to bring to the table solutions that have a point of view and a sensibility that are more diverse and ad-hoc with what is currently happening in the United States.

We are "Marketers" first and then "Hispanic Marketers."

We have to bring to the table solutions that go beyond race. First we have to focus on understanding the brand and the client's needs in depth. Then bring forward the ideas that succinctly generate solutions.

I don't see what is happening in the industry so much as a problem, but as an opportunity to create the media, the programming and the platforms that will allow us to have a more effective dialogue with the bi-cultural, bilingual consumer. And with a little bit of luck, we will be able to get ahead of the trends.

4 comments about "Are We Witnessing The End Of The Hispanic Advertising Agency, As We Know It? ".
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  1. Yuriy Boykiv, February 17, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.

    Dear Juan:
    thank you for the article. I agree with you 100% about what you mentioned. One thing we need to stop doing is departmentizing everything - tra-digital is a great way to describe of where the ad agency business is going. I also agree with the marketer first and Hispanic marketer second idea.
    It is critical for all multicultural marketers to understand that we should not be selling a language or the fact that the country has many immigrants, and instead, we should concentrate on the "multicultural niche" that many companies are not leveraging because the niche does not find the company's message culturally relevant (be it in English, Spanish or Chinese).


    Yuriy Boykiv

  2. Jackie Bird from Redbean Society, LLC, February 17, 2011 at 3:55 p.m.

    Juan, most of what you say is correct, but your headline is terribly misleading to major marketers that are out there precisely, looking to find a Hispanic agency to help them navigate their brands through a culture, mindset and yes, a language, that they are unfamiliar with. Language is NOT all, but there are excellent "Hispanic agencies" who have a much deeper understanding of what drives and engages this target market.

  3. Ivonne Kinser from First Choice Power, February 18, 2011 at 10 p.m.

    Well said Juan!

    I couldn't be more in agreement with you. It is definitely not the end of the Hispanic advertising agency by any means, rather, as you well said, it is the end of the advertising agency "as we know it", and that is not a bad thing at all. On the contrary, it is a tremendous opportunity for all those Hispanic agencies able to recognize it. Thank you for sharing your perspective.


    Ivonne Kinser

  4. Hugo Lembert, February 20, 2011 at 11:43 a.m.

    I totally agree with you in that Hispanic advertising agencies should not rely on the Spanish language to set themselves apart from the rest as a good % of the market is US born. The perception of what is Hispanic today may be quite different from what it may be in the next 10 years or so. Having said that, Spanish will remain key as long as the current Latin American migration pattern continues.

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