Americatel Seeks More U.S. Reach

Chilean telecom Americatel is talking with several Hispanic shops about its $25 million consumer ad account as it seeks to gain a greater share of the U.S. market, sources said.

Hispanics in the U.S. spend about $20 billion on telecommunications, more than 40 percent of the category’s ethnic market, according to a study by telecommunications-research and analysis firm Insight Research. According to Hispanic Business, category leader AT&T spent $45 million on targeted efforts last year.

“The category is so large, there is so much money to be made, the expenditure [proposed by Americatel] is totally in line with the potential,” said George San Jose, president of Chicago’s San Jose Group.

A company representative could not be reached. A subsidiary of Chile’s Entel, Americatel provides Internet access and long-distance services to Spanish speakers in Central America, Peru and the U.S.

Americatel’s pitchman is Chilean-born TV star Don Francisco, host of Sábado Gigante. Francisco holds huge influence for the products he promotes, San Jose said.

“There are a lot of people who live here [in the U.S.] who recognize the brand and will use it,” said Jim Flanagan, president and director of account services at Miami’s Tinsley Advertising, which has handled the client’s b-to-b account.

Sources said five to six semifinalists delivered presentations to client executives last week. A decision is expected in two weeks.