Three decades ago, only one Spanish-language network was on the air (Univision, then known as Spanish International Network), and it was a huge deal for them to land a national advertiser like McDonald's or Kraft, because the majority of national advertisers didn't see the point of representation among the population of U.S.-residing Latinos at the time.
That population now stands above 50 million, the fastest-growing population in the country and a big reason why we're on the verge of a multicultural majority republic in the U.S. That population now has a variety of Spanish-language channels to view, plus English-language and bilingual networks aimed squarely at them, and more on the way. Studies show this audience's buying power is in the trillions and shows no sign of slowing up.
So this makes me wonder… why, in 2012, for all the progress Univision, Telemundo and company have carved to get national advertiser support, does it appear that the majority of national advertisers still don't see the point of buying national ad time in their ballparks?
As Skip Bayless would pine weekdays on ESPN First Take, “Are you kidding me?!” Especially when on any given night, Univision and Telemundo beats The CW in Nielsen household viewership, and Univision comes close to – or beats – ABC, NBC or Fox in that category, depending on who the fourth-place broadcast net is? That's households, people. In various viewer demographics, the night-after-night results last TV season were greater, and show no signs of backing off this young season.
You want some examples of ad apathy? Try these:
***State Farm and Allstate remain the only companies in their category to regularly run messages on these networks. Where's Geico, Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Pacific Life, Travelers, etc.?
***Beyond the three fast-food hamburger giants--McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's--where's everyone else in the burger game? What say you, Arby's, Hardee's and Sonic? Subway is there, but not Blimpie's or Quiznos. How about all those speciality restaurant chains from Applebee's on down?
***Where's all the financial services firms--Fidelity, Scotttrade, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade?
***T-Mobile and Verizon are big Spanish-language players, but the smartphone makers from Samsung to Nokia don't follow their lead. While we're on a tech roll, where are Microsoft and Apple? Where's IBM? And where are all the Web destinations from Yahoo and Google to Angie's List and eHarmony who spend millions everywhere but Spanish-language TV, in spite of all the research showing Latinos are first among Internet adopters and heavy users?
Pick a product category beyond the ones above, from auto parts to health foods, and I'll bet the number of advertisers on the sidelines of Spanish-language/Latino TV is greater than the number of advertisers engaged in this corner of the medium.
Things got vocal when I raised this topic last week at the 10th annual Hispanic TV Summit in New York, offered by the publishers of Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News (one of my former employers). Some of the responses add up to corporate politics inside the advertising agencies, advertisers or both. Example: the media planner at an agency recommends a Latino TV buy, but the media buyer division declines.
For others, how an agency functions can be a barrier to landing sponsors. Some agencies adopt a silo approach where Spanish-language buys have to compete for dollars with campaigns targeting other audiences of color. Other agencies take a holistic "total market" position where campaigns are developed, which take every avenue, including Latino, into account off the bat. Still other agencies go silo by medium--broadcast, cable, print, radio, etc.
What counts in some people's minds as corporate politics comes off here as corporate shenanigans or worse. The losers are Latino viewers who could have an even greater variety of programming to watch if more national advertisers were spending.
It’s time to transform this environment and make it uniform, any which way possible. Advertisers: if the agencies will not comply, take the ball and score with it.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!