Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hispanic Advertising Ready to Take off Market Growing Fast

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hispanic Advertising Ready to Take off Market Growing Fast

Article excerpt

The message is simple when Victor Ornelas tells a prospective client about the need for Hispanic advertising.

Look ahead to Texas in the year 2010.

"Do you want to be in business that year? Are you willing to only market to half of your consumer base? Because if you're not marketing and building a foundation now within the Hispanic community, you won't be in business."

"It's a strategic imperative," he says. "So now is the time to start to build a foundation."

It's a message Ornelas has sold with great success in the six years since he founded Ornelas & Associates, a Hispanic advertising and marketing agency based in Dallas. The agency has grown to 35 employees, 12 blue-chip clients and $20 million in billings last year and an estimated $25 million this year.

"Everyone in this agency is bilingual and bicultural," Ornelas said. "We feel we can walk in both worlds very, very capably. . . . We're positioned as the agency of the future."

Ornelas, 46, who was named National Hispanic Business Entrepreneur of the Year by Hispanic Business magazine, sees plenty of room for growth. Although Hispanics make up some 10 percent of the U.S. population, Ornelas estimates less than 1 percent of all advertising dollars are spent on the fast-growing segment.

Diane Crispell, executive editor of American Demographics magazine, says targeting Hispanics makes sense because they tend to retain much of their culture.

"There's enough difference definitely in terms of culture and ethnic identification to merit targeting them. They also happen to still be very highly geographically concentrated in this country, which means that it's a manageable process - it's actually physically able to target them geographically," Crispell said.

"They're a viable market because they identify themselves as a type of market, they see themselves as a market, and they're easy to reach," she said.

According to Hispanic Business magazine, some $721 million was spent on advertising to the Hispanic market in 1993, a 14 percent increase from the year before.

The magazine's managing editor, Hector Cantu, said Ornelas & Associates is part of a five-year boom among Hispanic advertising agencies.

"As more and more corporations maneuver to penetrate the Hispanic market, businesses like Mr. Ornelas' are taking off and seeing fast and rapid growth," Cantu said.

"I think he represents . . . the marketing efforts being directed at this growing market, and he's in the pack of Hispanic advertising agencies that have popped up to cater to this market. He's shown tremendous innovation, a lot of ideas and insight into how to reach the market. I think it's paid off in the bottom line," Cantu said.

Not everyone agrees with Ornelas. William Mitchell, marketing professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, thinks there may be a certain amount of faddishness in the rapid growth of Hispanic advertising. …

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