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All In La Familia: CSA Marketing Woos Giants Well


January 12, 2004
Copyright ©2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

As the executive vice president of a small but fast-charging marketing and promotions company in Doral, Jorge Fusté is unafraid to stalk the halls of corporate giants like Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble to solicit new business. But when the time comes to close a deal, he brings in a secret weapon, his business ace-in-the-hole: his 68-year-old mom, Martha Mestril, the founder and president of their 10-year-old firm, CSA Marketing.

''We work really well together,'' he said.

CSA Marketing is gaining a reputation as a leading marketing company when it comes to direct promotions to Hispanic consumers. It creates and produces events, promotional material, in-store promotions and audits, and it counts Bayer Cadbury Adams USA, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson among its major clients.

The firm chalked up $13 million in revenue in 2003, up from $9 million in 2002, and Fusté projects 2004 revenue will reach $15 million.

This month, CSA Marketing, which Mestril founded out of her Kendall home in 1994 and named after three of her five children -- Claudio, Sebastian and Andres -- opened a Puerto Rico office. It joins the company's four other offices in Miami, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The move to target Puerto Rico's estimated $41.7 billion in household buying power came on the heels of the company's recent success attracting business from blue-chip companies, Fusté said.

''It's a natural progression in the development of our agency,'' he said.

After nearly two years of courtship, Procter & Gamble, maker of such consumer brands as Mr. Clean, Charmin and Old Spice, named CSA Marketing an ''MVP supplier for marketing and promotions services,'' one of only four Hispanic marketing firms nationwide with such a designation. And Wal-Mart named CSA Marketing one of only seven companies authorized to do store demonstrations of products and produce infomercials for its in-store TV channel.

Also in 2003, candy-maker Cadbury Adams tapped CSA Marketing to develop promotions targeting Hispanic consumers for its new spicy cinnamon gum, Dentyne Fire.

Fusté said part of his company's mission is to ''educate'' the consumer giants on how to better persuade Hispanics to buy their products.

Hispanic buyers vaulted to the forefront of Corporate America's consciousness after the 2000 Census confirmed the surging Hispanic population was growing even faster than had been suspected, accounting for 13.5 percent of the entire population.


The University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth estimates that Hispanic buying power will grow by 315 percent from 1990 to 2007. In 2003, Selig estimated Hispanics had buying power of $658 billion. Karen Benezra, editor of Brandweek, said corporations have markedly increased their marketing budgets for Hispanics.

''If you're not putting money aside for the Hispanic market today, you're missing out on a crucial market,'' she said.

Added Fusté: ``Usually, when the economy got bad, the Hispanic marketing budget was the first thing companies cut. Now the budgets are stable.''

Mestril said the company didn't set out to be a Hispanic market specialist. It arrived there after suffering painful lessons learned while trying to go national too quickly.

The inspiration for the company came accidentally, she said. The Havana native came to Miami in 1962, and when she retired from Johnson & Johnson after 17 years, spent mainly in the company's Florida and Louisiana marketing departments, she intented to stay retired.

But her boss at J&J asked her to consult and help coordinate some of their marketing projects. Eventually Fusté and her former boss suggested she start her own marketing and promotions company.


With a Johnson & Johnson account in their pocket, Mestril said they tried to extend the business nationally immediately and almost lost their shirts.

''We tried to help introduce a Johnson & Johnson baby cologne in Hispanic markets in Texas and California,'' she said. ``We did it, but we lost a lot of money. We realized we needed more experience.''

The company barely broke even for much of the '90s, she said, and in 1997, after four rejections, CSA finally secured a $50,000 bridge loan from a Miami bank.

''The banker told me I reminded him of his mother,'' she said.

Of the 43 people on staff, four are her children, and Fusté runs the company's day-to-day operations. He and Mestril attributed their recent success to diligence and patience in pursuing clients, as well as some intensive corporate training.


Procter & Gamble, for example, put them through 18 months of competition and then a training program. After similar competition to win Wal-Mart's confidence, the executives are set to begin a Wal-Mart training program.

The know-how acquired through this competitive experience has strengthened CSA Marketing's business practices.


Hillary Schubach, Cadbury Adams assistant brand manager for Dentyne Fire and Dentyne Ice, said her firm has learned a lot about marketing to Hispanics since it began working with CSA Marketing.

''They've been a great partner for us in developing our Hispanic marketing content,'' she said. ``We're putting our full trust in them to advise us on the best way to reach Hispanics in the markets in which we're focusing our efforts.''

Mestril, who said her management style drew from lessons learned as a mother of five, said she was proud of the company's ability to manage relationships.

''I have been a good manager because it's similar to being a mother,'' she said. ``When my daughter became a manager at the company, I told her she had to be 10 times nicer to her colleagues now, like a mother.''

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