The upfront is looming, or at least it's in the pre-looming stage. With it come the usual questions: Will it be a buyer's or seller's market? Will Les Moonves predictions be correct – double digit increases again? Will the new shows be any good? Will there be enough shrimp at the parties? And that old standby, is the upfront outdated?
The answers, in order: who knows, it's tough to bet against Les, some will and some won't, probably not, and stop already.
But there's one question about this year's upfront marketers absolutely must ask themselves: Am I spending enough on Hispanic television?
Answered correctly, you have a direct route to 56 million Americans (and climbing—fast) who spend in excess of $1 trillion annually, demonstrate the kind of brand-friendly consumer behavior we haven't seen in more than half a century, and who index well above the total population in critical categories like entertainment, QSR , consumer electronics, movies, digital media usage and more.
Oh, yes, and one out of every three of them are 18-34 years old.
Now that's what I call a target.
Media dollars have always followed the consumer and the impressions - think the growth of cable, and more recently, digital. Now the smart money in a wide range of categories is being allocated to making Hispanic a priority and ensuring that media plans have sufficient Spanish language media.
Hispanics constitute probably about 20% of any given marketer's sales today and this segment's growth will continue to outpace overall purchasing growth. But beyond the numbers is the even more enticing truth that Hispanics are, in many ways, ideal consumers.
I think Ad Age's Peter Francese said it best in a column on the 2010 Census when he noted that "perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Hispanics in America is how closely they exemplify our idealized concept of 1950s America. They are young (their median age is about where the whole nation was in 1955) and more often live in large, traditional, married-with-children families with lots of participation from grandparents … In sort, they are the sweet market for consumer goods and services that the entire nation used to be when baby boomers were young."
Yet unbelievably, we still hear marketers declare that because of assimilation and acculturation, they don't need much if any Spanish TV. English will do, they say. Well, no, it won't. Univision had 42 of the top 50 programs in 2011 among bilingual Hispanics.
The Spanish-language network offers a massive unduplicated reach as some 66% of its audience doesn't even watch English broadcast networks. In fact, last year Univision beat NBC more than half the nights of the year in prime with its blockbuster novelas – at prime time rates20%-30% lower than its English broadcast competition. And for a truly refreshing change of pace, 94% of Univision's audience watches prime live, compared to only 75% of U.S. viewers who watch English-language broadcasts in real-time.
How's that for a welcome blast from the past?
One of my journalist friends covered Hispanic marketing for many years, and he likes to tell the story of when he asked the head of one of the most successful and well-respected Latino ad agencies in the country, a fully acculturated, completely bilingual marketer with decades of experience, to give him the truth about the English versus Spanish question.
"Let's say I'm looking to buy a car," the agency leader said. "I'm comfortable learning all the technical details about that car, how fast it goes from 0 to 60, its torque and so on, in English. But if I want to know how driving that car will make me feel, that I can only get in Spanish."
Sounds like a pretty convincing razonamiento to me.
Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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