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El Sentinel

Advertisers Tap Hispanics

By Walter Pacheco

Dec 22, 2001
Copyright © 2001
El Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

Despite shrinking advertising dollars prior to and after Sept. 11 and in the wake of the war in Central Asia, Hispanic advertising expenditures have continued to grow.

Demand for Spanish-language programming also is on the rise, indicating that Hispanics, which dominated the news after Census 2000 numbers were released, still are commanding attention.

One of the clearest signals of that increased clout is NBC's pending buyout of Telemundo, the second largest Spanish-language network, for more than $2 billion.

In addition, the Weather Channel created a Spanish version of its original Web site this month for weather, sports and educational tools for the Latin American market. Discovery Channel launched a Spanish-language cable channel as well earlier this year.

In other English-dominated media, Spanish radio ads promote salsa nights at downtown Orlando hot spots, and on television, the popular Power Puff Girls cartoon showcases the ability to speak Spanish as one of the little superhero's special powers.

Analysts credit the sudden interest in advertising in the Hispanic market on the population boom of the last decade as well as the expanding Hispanic middle class.

"It's a bit of a mystery really how the [Hispanic] market continues to grow despite other markets," said José Villaseñor, a vice president at Ketchum Inc., of Houston, a top-ten international public relations firm.

Census 2000 results revealed that the United States' Hispanic population swelled 58 percent to 35.3 million, compared with 1990. Central Florida witnessed a 152 percent jump in the same period.

"The trick is to be able to capture the Hispanic market and keep it as a long-term investment," said Villaseñor.

In the last decade, the number of Hispanic households that earn between $40,000 and $140,000 jumped from 1.3 million to 2.5 million.

"As more Hispanics integrate into the middle class, advertisers have to come up with better ways to reach that market," said Villaseñor. "If advertisers are targeting the more educated and affluent middle class who are also more bilingual, but more comfortable with English, they must create campaigns in English that cater to that market. That is something some advertisers have had difficulty doing."

Strength is in numbers, and it is increasing nationwide for Hispanics. National Hispanic buying power is poised to top $500 billion in 2002, and some advertisers are picking up on that beat.

A total of 2.7 million Hispanics live in Florida, or 17 percent of the state population. Florida's purchasing power ranked third in the nation at $44 million, according to the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth, which each year conducts purchasing power studies for the nation and each major ethnic group.

Overall projections show that Hispanic purchasing power is expected to double to $1 trillion by 2010, perhaps sooner.

"The rising number of Hispanics who are successfully starting or expanding their own businesses also helps increase buying power," said Jeffrey Humphreys, director of the Selig Center. "The immense buying power of Hispanic consumers will energize the U.S. consumer market as never before," he said. That dynamic is evident in other recently-announced partnerships. AOL Time Warner recently teamed with Univisión, the nation's largest Spanish-language network, to increase Internet advertising and services. Procter & Gamble led the market this year as the industry's top spender in Hispanic media, with more than $55 million.

Its campaign to reach Hispanics includes product coupon inserts and television ads in Spanish-language publications and television. Last year, Procter & Gamble spent 20 percent less.

National and local television and radio networks, as well as newspapers and magazines, spent more than $2 billion this year in advertising aimed at the Hispanic consumer, according to HispanTelligence, the research division of Hispanic Business Inc.

"The Hispanic population is growing more rapidly than the total population, a trend that is not expected to abate," Humphreys said.

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