April 05, 2011

By Chiqui Cartagena

Next week's NGLC conference promises to elevate the conversation

The Census reported data on the last eight remaining states at the end of March. And although the data that has already been released over the past several months has garnered plenty of media coverage, the real story on the impact of the 2010 Census has yet to come.

Over the next several months, researchers and marketers will have the opportunity to really digest the data and analyze it to see how it should impact marketing efforts. For the first time ever, the Census will be using the American Community Survey data to release small area data, which will allow marketers to really see the impact of the census on the local level.  To nobody's surprise, Census officials are saying that one of the big stories the 2010 Census is the growth of Hispanics.

Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau recently summed it up like this: "This is the big headline of the Census, in both size and scope: the Hispanic population has dispersed throughout the country. Second, we are starting to a see growth in suburban areas of minority populations. Finally, the continuation of a huge demographic pattern, the gradual movement from Northeast and Midwest to the South and West."

Next week NGLC will host its fourth conference on the New Generation Latino. The event is already sold out, but you can still sign up to view the webcast. I commend David Chitel for shining the light on a very important point that often get's lost in the conversation about the Hispanic market. No, it's not the issue of language; it's the issue of fair share.

Let me address the language issue first. What NGLC has effectively done over the years is to say, “hey some Latinos, especially younger ones, are more bilingual, so in order to attract them media companies must create more culturally relevant programming.” The knee jerk reaction is: “aha, we need to do more in English! The reality, however, is that cultural relevance must happen in both languages.

There have been English-language programming options in the Hispanic market for at least a decade (SiTV - or should I say Nuvo, Mun2, etc…) and we can expect more options in English targeting Latinos in the years to come. That should surprise nobody either. But how do you explain the huge growth of young, bilingual viewers both on Univision and Telemundo? Good, culturally relevant and engaging programming. Period. So we who toil in the Hispanic market must stop bickering over Spanish vs. English issue. The truth is that it should be both!

Now we should focus our attention on the real problem facing Hispanic marketing, which is the issue of getting our “fair share” of advertising budgets in the United States. And this is the issue I hope gets a lot of attention next week at NGLC. Mr. Chitel argues that currently about $6 Billion is allocated to US Hispanic marketing efforts (90% of which are spent in Spanish-language media). That figure, however, represents only 5% of the total advertising spend in the US, which was about $117 Billion in 2009.

“Rather than focusing on how the $6 billion pie is going to be divided up and doled out, our position is that we should focus on the much larger $117 billion pie and question why more dollars are not earmarked for U.S. Hispanics as a whole. At last check, we've been short-changed about $12 billion to get our total market 'fair share,' says Chitel.”

You can question the numbers, but you can't question the point: Hispanic media companies are not getting their “fair share” of advertising dollars in the US. And the only way we are going to get closer to what we deserve is by working together to “elevate the conversation” about the whole Hispanic market.


Excellent points! It's not a matter of English vs Spanish but rather a matter of culturally relevant content that's most important. The messages we send... Are those really resonating with our audience? That's the question!

:"Fair Share" seems to imply that all the Hispanics in this country would seem to "need" to be reach in their "own language". Or their own culturally "sensitive" message, but there is one question which no one has address: Why? Is it presumptious of us to "assume" that anyone who has the temerity of calling themselves a "Hispanic" needs to be spoken to in Spanish? Unfortunately, from a media standpoint, the Spanish-language media is just not capable of delivering Hispanics across the language strata. It seems "fair share" would lead one to much larger Spanish-language media budgets, a far cry from the historical 4% share, but the Spanish-language media has got to demonstrate their capabilities of attracting more "English-preferred" Hispanics. The historical Spanish-language television's audience composition of 85% Spanish-dominants, just will not justify an increase to "fair share" levels of say, 10-15%. Let's keep the rhetoric about "fair share" on the sidelines until the Spanish-language media can show a decided attraction to the "other" Hispanics in the language strata. I'm convince there are so many "media mavens" in your audience, they can dispel my theory. George Ortiz

Well said. You know, the Hispanic advertising industry has over 20 years of marginalizing and ignoring the bilingual or bicultural Latinos. The easiest path to accounts, billings, and media buys has been Spanish. But not so much now. All around us are industries that are dying because they refused to adapt and kept their narrow focus. Borders was once a powerhouse. Blockbuster was the king. Look where they are now. It will not be easy turning around 20 years of business practice, but it has to be done for the survival of this industry.

Chiqui, as an African American marketer, I echo the same sentiments about focusing on the overall media dollars, not necessarily the Census numbers, but the new Census numbers will hopefully help us get more dollars targeting minority media. Hispanics now total 50 million and African Americans some 40 million...combined, we make up almost 30% of the nation's population. When you toss in Asian, that makes up another 14 million minorities. The numbers are nebulous when it comes to the overall dollars spent in media natiowide....I quote $125+ billion, which comes from TNS Media and Nielsen MonitorPlus. The spending on media targeting African Americans is a paltry $2.3 billion, almost a third of the $6 billion+ spent on Hispanic media. Both African American media companies and Hispanic have been relagated to second class citizens. If we combine forces at the media, advertiser and agency levels and share the power of our buying power (about $1 trillion for AA and $1 trilliion for Hispanic), that could be a start. We've started some initiatives in the Southwest and would love to share our thoughts with our Hispanic brethren.

Chiqui: Part of the problem with the disproportionate spending patterns is that our media has become highly segmented (or segregated), especially at the local level. English-language media rarely covers any stories on Latino consumers and their economic behavior, preferring instead to cover the usual topics of crime, immigration, poverty and underachievement (CIPU). The advertising community, which predominately reads English-language media, sees a narrow portrayal of Latinos as a social burden, not desirable consumers. It will be a challenge to change the spending patterns of advertisers unless English-media shops are encouraged to change this pattern. A related problem is the near absence of Hispanic marketing courses in business and mass communications schools, which appear largely indifferent to the Latino presence in the U.S.

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