Why are we still being given lip service?

Advertising Week misses opportunity to lead the discussion on the future revolution.  By Chiqui Cartagena is the SVP of Multicultural Marketing at Story Worldwide.

Next week is Advertising Week in New York, a week-long extravaganza that covers every aspect of the media, marketing and advertising worlds. In its program guide, the organizers say they put together a program to help us all “stay a step ahead of shifts and evolutions – before they become revolutions.” And yet this year, when the Census is expected to reveal a huge demographic shift from the graying and the browning of America, the Advertising community continues to just give lip service to what is no doubt a multicultural revolution upon us.

You’d think that after seven years the organizers of Advertising Week would want to be considered thought leaders in this subject which everyone acknowledges will “be a game changer” and affect everything we do and yet, looking at the schedule of events, I counted only 4 events that seem to address the multicultural space.

All together, when you count “other” events that are happening that week covering multicultural markets, I count a grand total of eight, including the Mosaic Awards, the GLAAD Media Awards in Advertising and the Hispanic Television Summit.

I will try to make it to as many events as possible, but the one I don’t want to miss is the Hispanic TV Summit organized by Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News, at the Hilton New York Hotel on Wednesday, September 29.

In case you missed it, just a few weeks ago, Univision ranked #1 in prime time for all Adults 18-49 (regardless of language) for the whole week of August 30- September 5th. However, not many people realize this was the 14th time Univision was #1 in prime time among all Adults 18-49 in the network’s history, cementing its rightful place among US broadcast networks and television viewers. The truth is that Spanish-Language television is strong and growing and that is important to celebrate. They are clearly serving up programming that continues to attract a growing Hispanic population.

NBC/Telemundo have also been doing a great job of increasing its viewership in Spanish…. and in English through the various networks that they own. MUN2 did a wonderful one-hour special about the importance of the Census which also aired on CNBC this summer and more recently a coordinated effort across NBC news channels surrounding the coverage of the Arizona Immigration bill resulted in significant increases in Hispanic viewership (according to Nielsen) across all of NBC/Telemundo properties, according to Ramon Escobar, EVP of Network News for Telemundo and one of the Keynote Speakers of the Summit.

The day-long conference will also feature top executives from P&G, Levis Strauss and Cox Television who will share their thoughts and strategies on marketing and advertising to the Hispanic market in BOTH English and Spanish. As I and many others have been saying for a while, culturally relevant programming is what matters, not the language it is delivered in. Broadcast and Cable networks have not done a good job of really understanding how to create programming for Hispanic audiences.

Last week, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Pedro Blanco of Blanco Lorenz, the leading company helping Television companies and Hollywood studios figure out the right strategy for targeting Latinos for the past ten years. According to Blanco, networks have failed to really hit the mark with Latino audiences because they still make assumptions based on ignorance and stereotypes, don’t do research or listen to what the market really wants and ultimately fail to deliver something that Hispanics want to watch because it isn’t entertaining, regardless of language!

For a while there ABC was the exception, with hit shows like Desperate Housewives, George Lopez and Ugly Betty. Their strategy was one of embedding Hispanic talent, subplots and themes and yes, even creating entire shows with culturally relevant entertainment. But now that Gilbert Davila is gone from Disney ABC and all those shows have run their course, nobody else seems to be picking up the Hispanic banner.

As content creation moves exclusively from media companies and brands in this post-advertising age, I sense a huge opportunity for brands to tell stories that are entertaining and culturally relevant to Latinos, like Levis is doing with the Discovery channel. So much opportunity….so little time!

About the author: Chiqui Cartagena is the SVP of Multicultural Marketing at Story Worldwide. She is also the author of Latino Boom! Everything You Need to Know about the US Hispanic Market (Random House, 2005) Follow Chiqui on Twitter @chiquicartagena

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