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AHAA Calls for Bigger Media Budgets

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CORAL GABLES, FLA. Only 62 of the top 671 advertisers spend 9 percent of their ad budgets on Hispanic TV and print media as recommended by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, according to a study released yesterday at the organization's 16th semi-annual convention here.

Among those that do are Bally Total Fitness, which allocates 67 percent of its budget to Hispanic media, Sears (21 percent), McDonald's (14 percent), AT&T Corp. (25 percent) and PepsiCo (11 percent).

While fitness clubs, consumer electronics stores, audio and video manufacturers and non-governmental organizations put more than 15 percent of their budgets behind Hispanic media, a number of categories spend less than 1 percent, the research found. Pharmaceuticals, computer products and games and toys fall into that group.

The Santiago Solutions Group in New York conducted the study by analyzing data provided by TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

In a discussion about recent Hispanic mergers, Telemundo president and CEO James McNamara encouraged media outlets to go after bigger media budgets by banding together like cable companies did years ago, rather than attacking each other. "We need to make sure that media budgets reflect this tremendous growth [in media]," he said.

Even as participants were calling for even more media outlets geared towards Latinos, some expressed concern that mainstream agencies may be tapped to create ads for English-only networks like SiTV and the future Voy Network.

"Your strategic advantage is that you know the Latin consumer better than mainstream agencies," said Fernando Espuelas, chairman and CEO of Voy, which will launch a cable channel in July. Still, he acknowledged that the response from Hispanic ad agencies "has been very guarded and very 'Oh my God, this is going to change the landscape and what we are doing.' "

In a separate panel about Hispanic print, Richard Perez-Feria, editor of People en Espanol, took issue with the fact that some ads in his publication do not look as good as those in general-market periodicals. "I think we have to go and demand the best, or at least the same. You need to push your clients and say, 'Is this really the best visual for the brand?' " he said.

Keynote speaker Jeff Hicks, CEO and partner of MDC Partners-backed Crispin Porter + Bogusky, outlined ways his agency operates in an environment in which clients cannot rely simply on the 30-second spot or half-page ad.

Among the tips: Look within a client's business for additional message distribution. Burger King's beverage cups are seen by a vast number of people, for example, which is why this summer CP+B will try to engage consumers with entertaining copy on the vessels. Similarly, for Virgin Atlantic, the Miami-based agency will redesign safety cards and videos and create "signature vomit bags" that passengers can take home and use as containers for outdoor candles.