When Haiti was struck with the worst earthquake in 200 years, Rudy Ruiz and his team at Interlex got busy. As agency of record for the Pan American Development Foundation, Interlex helped mobilize domestic and international communities, including Hispanics in the U.S. and Latin America, to support the relief effort via a branded campaign.
“We bridged traditional media with digital and social to accelerate the response,” Ruiz says. The agency also produced TV, radio, print and online PSAs featuring Haitian actor Jimmy Jean Louis, co-star of NBC’s Heroes, Rainn Wilson of NBC’s The Office and Univision anchorwoman Teresa Rodriguez. In addition, Interlex matched its own team members’ financial contributions.
That kind of response is nothing new to Ruiz. “Our focus is cause marketing,” says Ruiz, co-founder, president and chief creative officer of Interlex. “We are passionate about engaging, educating and empowering people by branding behavior.”
For instance, Interlex helped Tracfone Wireless launch a cell phone program for low-income families via the SafeLink brand. It also provided media planning, public relations and partnership development.
“In these tough times, successful brands recognize that consumers want to align themselves with companies that do good for others,” says Ruiz, who has been called “a cultural visionary” by the National Hispanic Institute. “A good example is American Express, which is focused on making the world a better place, not just on financial services. As a multicultural advocacy agency for OPEN by American Express, we have developed successful partnerships to ensure their outreach has a strong appeal to Hispanic and African American-owned businesses.”
Ruiz notes that Interlex doesn’t limit itself to advocacy work and assists some for-profit brands to promote products and services that have an intrinsically positive benefit on multicultural communities. It has helped clients to promote health insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, adoption of new technologies and financial literacy.
Ruiz founded Interlex in 1995 with his wife, Heather, the agency’s award-winning creative director. Initially focused on serving government and nonprofits, Interlex now serves a growing roster of clients from offices in San Antonio, New York, Washington and Los Angeles.
The two founders share a commitment to the important causes of our time. “I have always been interested in how public policies are transformed into social action and how relevant communications can change behaviors in multicultural communities,” says Ruiz, whose first book, Adelante! was published by Random House Español in 2003.
Heather Ruiz, while leading the agency’s creative department, takes a hands-on role as an art director and graphic designer on the agency’s cause campaigns. “In a cluttered environment, the visual imagery of our campaigns must resonate culturally and emotionally in order to trigger a response for the causes we support,” says Heather Ruiz, who has created and designed campaigns on topics ranging from infant immunizations, human trafficking and breastfeeding to smoking prevention and cessation, disaster relief and economic development.
Along with its expertise in cause marketing, Interlex brings a deep level of knowledge and research to its programs, including proprietary models, tools and techniques to shape the right strategy for a brand.
“You need to have layers of measurement to create a full portrait of the impact of campaigns,” Ruiz says. “It’s not just the response, but also advertising metrics for brand awareness, perceptions and intent to use. On the public relations side, you need to monitor media coverage and tone. You can’t rely on one metric alone to get an accurate picture.”
In recent years, Ruiz has seen major companies shift their marketing strategies to reflect the growing diversity of the U.S. audience, in some cases making Hispanics a primary focus rather than a secondary one. But he cautions that brands can’t rely on traditional general market advertising to connect with Hispanics, even in the “fully acculturated” segment. “There is value in having a lead agency that can integrate the Hispanic segment into the overall strategy to create a general market brand that is multicultural at its core.”
One of the largest Hispanic-owned agencies, Interlex provides global and national clients with seamless general and multicultural marketing services within an integrated full-service agency model while creating messages with meaning. For more information, see www.interlexusa.com