Hispanic Advertising Goes Digital ... Sort Of

I was watching the Copa de Oro finals match between the US and Mexico on Univision a few weeks ago (as were many millions of other Hispanics). Besides a great game, it was a unique opportunity for me to watch more than four hours of Univision programming and about 40 minutes of Spanish TV advertising.

The advertisers were many of the usual suspects you would expect to see during a big sporting event -- beer companies, automakers and big consumer goods companies.

The spots were generally great -- effective, culturally relevant and entertaining. Many of them were developed specifically for the Copa de Oro tournament, or at least soccer themed. So they were even contextually relevant, something rarely seen in TV spots outside of the Super Bowl.


What struck me the most, however, was how heavily they played on and integrated "digital" themes. Most of the ads incorporated elements of the digital lifestyle in their concepts. The ads take for granted that digital media is a big part of the U.S. Hispanic reality, whether it was people using the Internet, connecting on Facebook, or using their smartphones. I would assume the account planners at the agencies that created the spots were looking at the same data we see all the time in writing their creative briefs -- the data on Hispanic digital media behavior throughout all the trades showing that Hispanics are heavy users of all kinds of digital media.



Watching all these "digitally" themed Spanish language TV ads reminded me of the 2010 AdAge Hispanic FactPack. I wrote a blog post a year ago about how the annual report on Hispanic advertising was full of ads emphasizing digital media -- whether by the Hispanic ad agencies or Hispanic media companies. However, the irony of the Fact Pack was it had statistics showing that only 4.8% of all Hispanic media spend went to online media.

Obviously the folks planning and developing all this traditional creative felt digital was an important theme to incorporate into their ad concepts. Yet the overwhelming majority of Hispanic media dollars continue to go to traditional media -- 95.2% to be exact. That is the irony and contradiction.

A cynical view would be that the key parties involved -- i.e. the Hispanic ad agencies and the big Hispanic media companies -- have a huge incentive to keep most Hispanic advertising programs going to traditional media, specifically TV. The costs per thousand are much higher for the media companies and the production budgets are many magnitudes larger than they would be for digital ads. Moreover, for most Hispanic ad agencies, big TV productions are still their cash cows, and one they are not interested in "putting to pasture." Add in the fact that many Hispanic ad agencies still outsource digital creative concept development and production, and it's clear going "too digital" would hurt their bottom lines.

A less cynical assessment would be that Spanish TV delivers larger U.S. Hispanic audiences, at scale, and without overlap with the general market, than any other medium. Therefore, it makes sense for the bulk of Hispanic media and production budgets to be allocated to this more expensive channel.

However, it's clear there is some major inefficiency in how most Hispanic advertising is being executed and allocated by channel. Depending on your view of the situation, there is clearly a market opportunity for fresh thinking on the Hispanic ad agency side or for new business models in the media business.

3 comments about "Hispanic Advertising Goes Digital ... Sort Of ".
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  1. Ken Muench from Draftfcb, July 7, 2011 at 9:58 a.m.

    I love those digitally themed ads. They make you feel like you're actually doing

    By the way, the one reason you missed: TV ads are just easier. Most traditional agencies are set up like assembly lines for TV ads. Ask for a digital thingamabob and people on the line start freaking out.

  2. Kevin Walker from CultureLab, July 7, 2011 at 5:51 p.m.

    Jose, great observations and a look at opposing views for the slant towards traditional. The Black agency world is facing some of the same dynamics and the reason why many Black agencies have not morphed to more digital is that they would have to alter their whole cost structure and operating model as budgets are smaller for digital work. I think you answered your own question here. Great job!

    Kevin Walker

  3. Susan Morgan from Gorilla Nation Media, July 8, 2011 at 12:31 p.m.

    Nice article.

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