Researcher Esther “E.T.” Franklin has changed the way the advertising industry looks at multiculturalism. By encouraging brands and marketers to take what she calls an “inside out” perspective—hearing directly what a group says is meaningful, not what outsiders believe to be the group’s norms and values—she’s helped them get a clearer picture of cultural identities and media consumption habits around the world. “If you look at individual identities, you can see things that might be overlooked or invisible,” she says.
A good example is Franklin’s work on Beyond Demographics, a trailblazing 2008 study that uncovered 12 distinct identities within the African-American community. “No one had paid much attention to the ‘metaphysicals’ who embrace eastern and western philosophies and are concerned about health, wellness and food choices,” she says. “Another intriguing group is the ‘thrivals,’ who are young, well-educated, have a diverse network of peers and don’t accept the status quo.”
A Chicago native, Franklin, 54, earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a master’s of management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School. While working for a field service organization, she saw a TV special about Burrell Advertising. “I didn’t know there was an ad agency serving the African-American market,” she says. “I called the head of research on Monday and got the job.”
Now EVP, director of cultural identities at Starcom MediaVest Group, Franklin specializes in Hispanic, African-American, Asian and emerging market consumers. She spearheaded the start up of the cultural identities practice, helping clients grow their brands across a wide variety of demographics. “We have created another discipline here, adding the concept of identity to multicultural marketing, and applying that level of understanding to media behaviors and influences,” she says.
Today, Franklin believes advertisers must adopt an insider’s perspective to figure out how subcultures are using brands. That’s something Franklin is doing personally, having spent several weeks this past summer in Santiago, Chile, immersed in a Spanish-language South American culture. As she says, “There’s no better way to challenge your assumptions and perceptions than to be part of the everyday experience.”
Growing up in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Aldo Quevedo dreamed of being in TV. Then, as a student at Monterrey Institute of Technology, he discovered the advertising industry and never looked back.
He started his career at Ogilvy, but six years later followed his future wife to Dallas, and joined Hispanic agency Dieste Harmel & Partners. Today, he is president and chief creative officer of the agency, now known as Dieste and part of Omnicom.
In the past 15 years, Quevedo has built Dieste into a leading multicultural agency with a strong reputation for creativity and a long string of awards. He was the first Mexican to win a Lion at Cannes, and in 2004 he was inducted into the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Hall of Achievement.
To achieve clients’ goals, Quevedo focuses first on understanding the subtleties of multicultural audiences and then developing relevant creative concepts. Pointing to the important, but often unnoticed, differences in Hispanic markets, Quevedo says, “Mexico is very aspirational to the U.S., so the tone for a McDonald’s commercial, for example, would be very different in the two countries.”
Quevedo believes that digital and social platforms allow marketers to learn more about the different mindsets of the U.S. Hispanic market—such as recent immigrants versus those born here—and develop appropriate creative concepts. “You have to anticipate where the audience is going, rather than chase the market,” he says. “And you have to be willing to fight for your ideas.”
For example, for Levi’s, Quevedo’s team recently created Norté a Sur, a 10-episode series Discovery en Español about five Latinos exploring the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. The campaign included digital and social components in support of Levi’s retail partner JCPenney. “It was a very successful example of non-traditional engagement,” says Quevedo.
But Quevedo’s favorite creative accomplishment comes on a personal level, making up bedtime stories to read to his four children. “My family, like my agency, is an inspiration to me,” he says. “One of my greatest rewards is helping young people take that next step on their journey through life.”
Over his two-decade-long career, Mauricio Sabogal, president of world markets at UM and Initiative, has seen Latin America move from terra incognita for Madison Avenue to a critical element of their global growth plans. And many believe he can take a good portion of that responsibility. “Mauricio has accelerated the transformation of the media agency space in Latin America,” says Nick Brien, chairman and CEO, McCann Worldgroup. “He leads by example, inspiring the diverse members of his team to do their best.”
A native of Colombia, Sabogal started his career at Nielsen Colombia in 1990, and soon became a leader at global agencies in Latin America: Andean region president at MindShare, CEO of OMD Network in Latin America, CEO of Omnicom Media Group for Latin America. In 2009, Sabogal moved to IPG, and today he is responsible for 52 reporting offices and another 50 affiliated offices across six continents.
“I am a symbol for the people in Latin America who think they don’t have any opportunities in the media business,” Sabogal says. “I have shown them that they can build an international career. I believe that everything is possible as long as you work hard enough.”
With his background in media research, Sabogal believes brand strategies should reflect the differences in Hispanic audiences in the U.S. and Latin America. “Some U.S. Hispanics can best be reached by Spanish-language media,” he says. “But there is a larger segment that speaks English and feels totally connected with the U.S., but still responds to content that reflects their Hispanic heritage and culture.”
It’s the same story in Latin America on a larger scale, Sabogal adds. “Hispanics in Mexico and Argentina think and act very differently, but both can be reached by the pan-regional media, including U.S. television, outdoor and digital.”
Sabogal says he continues to get fresh ideas on media and technology from young people who are leading the way in social, digital and mobile media. Tapping their insights and energy, he serves as a mentor and career guide. “When I discover talent, I try to show them how to succeed,” says Sabogal. “My teams are full of young people who have great skills and fresh ideas. I put them in high positions and they deliver.”