Comcast Hires Maya for Hispanic Campaign

NEW YORK Comcast Cable, the nation’s largest cable company with 21.5 million subscribers, has hired Hispanic shop Maya Advertising & Communications to handle public relations for its On Demand en Espanol ad campaign running through January.

The Washington, D.C.-based agency, which did not disclose financial details of the transaction, was selected after Comcast considered several shops over the past few weeks, said Luis Vasquez-Ajmac, president of Maya.

Maya’s campaign includes pitching the new service to Spanish- and English-language media outlets such as CNN en Espanol. The agency said it has sent background footage to local CNBC and ABC news stations in the top 10 Hispanic markets to persuade them to run stories about its new service. Comcast’s Spanish-language ads were produced in-house and will run on Univision and Telemundo.

Unlike satellite television, which offers the same dozens of channels to Hispanics nationwide, On Demand is marketing its ability to offer programming that can be localized to the markets it serves. In Miami, for example, that means offering more Caribbean and Brazilian channels; in New Mexico, a package with a Basque channel for the northern Spaniards who live there.

The service will let Hispanics see multiple channels and shows from all over Latin America, and also will include free on demand music videos and a pay-per-view option for movies, “similar to what you get at hotels,” Vasquez-Ajmac said.

It will also help Comcast sell specific, segmented advertising slots in one swoop from its national headquarters, said analysts.

“They can synchronize ad spots in different cable systems, and they can centrally manage their ad sales,” said David Joyce, a cable and media analyst with JB Hanauer in Miami. “They want to sell a lot of local and regional advertising.”

Comcast, which launched its first Spanish-language service last year, has 3 million Hispanic subscribers in all of the top 10 Hispanic markets, except New York.

Though the cable giant spent $114 million on advertising in 2003 and $94 million through July of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, the company did not spend on external Hispanic media last year or through August 2004.

Hispanics are a crucial market for the cable giants, because they tend to watch more TV than general-market consumers, a study this year by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute showed.

Cable companies find they have to expand and market their Spanish-language offerings to pull Hispanic viewers and the advertisers away from satellite TV companies such as DirecTV and EchoStar, which have spent heavily on advertising to court Hispanic customers in recent years.

Time Warner, the No. 2 cable company with 11 million subscribers, spent $192 million in 2003 and $132 million through July on general market ads, but devoted only $1 million to Hispanic advertising, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Maya, an independent agency with $5 million in anticipated billings for 2004, had handled local Hispanic campaigns for Comcast before being selected for the national effort.