Absent. Missing. Unavailable. Off Duty … Where were the US Hispanic Ad Agencies?

  By Christopher Campos

I attended the NGLC conference just over a week ago and was thrilled to see a packed room turnout. Fact is, we need more forums like this one where we engage with like-minded individuals and actively discuss the evolution of our US Hispanic industry. I can’t think of another forum that exists where people willingly and openly gather to talk about reaching the totality of the US Hispanic market, not just the Spanish-dominants.

Ok, so let’s keep it real. Although the attendee list was extensive – including Senior level Clients (across multiple categories and products), broadcast media partners, digital and mobile companies, researchers, service providers, vendors, General Market media planning and buying agencies – the US Hispanic ad agency presence was a mere sprinkling.

Why? Why is our industry absent when it comes to non-traditional conferences or events? The vacuum was very evident … and as my mom used to say, “Actions speak louder than words”. On that Monday April 5th, our Hispanic ad agency actions spoke loudly about our thought leadership and total market stewardship; NGLC even offered AHAA agencies a special discount to attend. Problem is, I counted the number of Hispanic agencies that attended with one hand (go ahead, check online at www.nglc.biz and click on the guest list, see for yourself!)

I do have to give credit where credit is due; and our current AHAA Chair, Gisela Girard, was scheduled to address the conference participants. Unfortunately a family emergency prevented her from traveling that day. However, beyond the justifiable events that precluded Gisela from attending, I believe AHAA should have delivered Gisela’s keynote speech with another board member. Showcasing our industry’s commitment and position regarding New Generation Latinos and emphasizing how we, as an industry, have the insights, expertise and experience to reach the total US Hispanic market (beyond just the Spanish-dominants) is critical for our continued growth and … yes, our survival.

So … about keeping this real, this is not about AHAA; it is about us – the collective industry. It is about taking action and showcasing leadership. Our industry is changing and continues to change. Change requires evolution (survival of the fittest notion). The most recent events that have our industry debating and talking are just the tip of the iceberg. In a short 2-3 weeks we’ve seen major accounts that once resided at leading Hispanic agencies shift to General Market agencies with Hispanic capabilities and expertise. We’ve also seen “new” agencies pop up backed by General Market conglomerates. So . . . yes, let’s keep this real. Let’s face it, accept it and act as the experts in our space. Ignoring this new environment is not going to make it go away. And ignoring actionable forums that foster open conversation about how to reach the totality of the US Hispanic market is a sure way of speaking with our actions, not our words.

In the end, LEADERSHIP is defined by action, and (as a collective whole), we have not shown significant leadership in venturing outside our protective Spanish-dominant world. Don’t misinterpret this open editorial piece, I’m not advocating moving away from reaching our market in-language . . . not at all! This is not a language debate — what I’m talking about here is “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk”.

What does this mean?  It means putting a stake in the ground, challenging the status quo and truly embracing the total market. It means breaking out of the Spanish-dominant box. It means actively leading the discussion on how to steward our clients and their brands in today’s dynamic and ever changing marketplace . . . which includes New Generation Latinos that embrace culture and are language AGNOSTIC.

The Total US Hispanic business opportunity is there . . . ripe for the taking (not just for us, but for anyone who wants it). Let’s be proactive, not reactive. That’s keeping it real.

By Christopher Campos

Christopher Campos is VP, Managing Director of The Bravo Group’s New York flagship office. Throughout his advertising career, he’s rallied teams and individuals to experiment and push the boundaries across all disciplines to achieve success for clients such as Verizon, Sears, Miller, Campbell’s, Ford, AT&T, Pfizer and Kraft –among many others.

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