Advertisers begin deciding where to spend more than $7 billion for commercial
time ahead of the fall television season, some networks are feeling less anxious
than their competitors, and not because they have prescriptions for extra-strength
Executives from the two big networks that cater to Spanish-speaking viewers
Telemundo and Univision say they think that new demographic data
and a revamping of how the Latino TV audience is measured will help them outperform
their English-language counterparts in what is known as the upfront market.
Wall Street analysts estimate that the two networks could sell $800 million
to $900 million in commercial time before the 2002-03 season starts, far above
the estimated $700 million to $725 million they sold during last year's upfront.
That would equal the estimates for upfront ad sales for the two smallest mainstream
broadcast networks, UPN and WB. The expected increase between 12 and
28 percent would significantly outperform the increases of 3 percent
to 6 percent anticipated by the English-language broadcast networks, which also
include ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.
"Some may still continue to ignore the market, but there are enough who
could stand to spend more on advertising to Hispanics: retailers in larger markets,
makers of packaged goods, companies that sell to younger families," said
Michael J. Russell Jr., an analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in New York
who follows the advertising and broadcasting industries.
"Hispanics have a tendency to be more brand loyal," he added, referring
to research findings, "so advertising to them could be more effective."
That is an important consideration in tough times, when ad dollars are scarce.
Marketers are increasingly getting the message about Hispanic purchasing power.
"We have been, I guess you could say, a little bit slow to the gate, but
our goal is to build a long-term relationship with this consumer," said
Michelle Fedurek, vice president for media services at Wendy's International
in Dublin, Ohio. For the first time, Wendy's is devoting part of its national
ad budget to campaigns in Spanish.
"We are involved in the upfront as we speak," Ms. Fedurek added.
"Conversations have begun with both the big networks."
Previously, Wendy's advertised to Hispanic consumers by running ads in 27 local
markets. Now, the company is spending an estimated $10 million on national television
and radio commercials as well as on ads in stores, all created by the Vidal
Partnership in New York.
Wendy's is sponsoring two campaigns for the Hispanic market. One serves "to
introduce our brand to this consumer," Ms. Fedurek said, "because
research showed us Hispanics don't really know who Wendy's is, but once they
do they're willing to try us, and like us." The other campaign is centered
on the 2002 World Cup and the matches to be broadcast by Univision.
Telemundo and Univision, however, still face formidable obstacles in grabbing
a larger share of ad dollars. Many mainstream national advertisers remain reluctant
to speak directly to a market that they perceive as linguistically and culturally
complicated. And the overall upfront market, which will begin in earnest as
soon as this week, could prove to be a sluggish one for all networks as they
worry whether the uneven economy will discourage marketers from spending more
than they did last season.
This year, the Spanish-language networks have three new negotiating chips.
The 2000 census has provided their sales forces with detailed analyses of demographic
data elaborating on the rapid growth of the Hispanic population, which increased
to 12.5 percent of the total from 9 percent in 1990.
In addition, the company that measures TV ratings, Nielsen Media Research,
is putting in place methods that are meant to measure the Latino viewership
more effectively. The hope among executives at Telemundo and Univision is that
the refinements will increase ratings for their shows, making them more desirable
Finally, the recent acquisition of Telemundo by NBC, which is part of General
Electric, is expected to stimulate interest among advertisers that until now
confined their pitches to English-language networks.
"There is still a need for learning about what the market is," said
Steve Mandala, executive vice president for sales at Telemundo in New York,
because "the only way our market gets percentage and dollar-volume growth
is through that educational effort being successful."
"There are no guarantees," he added, "but we feel very confident"
about the fall season.
NBC is seeking to interest its client roster in Telemundo with cross-network
ad packages and promotions. For instance, María Celeste Arrarás,
a well-known personality on Hispanic television, was hired as the anchor of
a new newsmagazine show on Telemundo, "Al Rojo Vivo," and is being
asked to contribute to NBC News programs like "Dateline."
Ms. Arrarás and her show are "a focal point" of the Telemundo
upfront sales initiatives, Mr. Mandala said.
Joe Mandese, the editor of Media Buyer's Daily in New York, a newsletter published
by Primedia, said: "The Hispanic market is still somewhat of its own market,
but it is making a bridge into the general marketplace." That shift would
substantially help Telemundo and Univision, he added.
"Agencies were not used to buying this because they didn't know how to
evaluate Spanish-language television alongside `Anglo' television," Mr.
Mandese said. "But the Hispanic networks have done a great job marketing
themselves by saying, `These are the demographics who buy your clients' products,
and in some instances they're more important than the general market' "
because many Latino families tend to be younger and larger than other American
Univision, which is the leader in both ratings and revenue in the Latino TV
market, is intensifying its efforts to counter Telemundo's aggressive game,
aiming at categories like computers, financial services and prescription drugs
that have spent relatively little for Hispanic television.
"Our job is to deliver the information, to prove what we're saying,"
said Tom McGarrity, co-president for Univision network sales in New York for
Univision's owner, Univision Communications.
"We've had upfronts in the last four or five years where we've been able
to outperform our English-language counterparts," he added. "We don't
see any reason why we won't be able to do that this coming year."
In addition to the Univision network, Univision Communications also owns a
smaller broadcast network, TeleFutura, and a cable network, Galavisión.
The company also operates online media and a music division, the Univision Music
Group, which "we may be putting into our upfront deals," Mr. McGarrity
One sign of the growth in the Spanish-speaking consumer market is that 5 of
the 30 pages in this week's issue of the trade publication Brandweek carry articles
describing Hispanic campaigns by marketers like American Honda Motor, the California
Milk Processor Board, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Wal-Mart.
"The Hispanic consumer is important for all of us going forward,"
Ms. Fedurek at Wendy's said. "Now that we have begun this relationship
on a national basis, we're looking to continue."
STUART ELLIOTT, New York Times
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