First Mover: Roberto Orci

The new AHAA chairman on the dollars and sense of spending in the Hispanic market


Age 55 

New gig Chairman, Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. He continues as president, CEO, Acento

What is a key take-away for marketers in the 2010 Census results?

In virtually every key demographic, general market growth was in the low-single digits while Hispanic growth was in the double digits. If you look at women 18-49, in the non-Hispanic population, there was a minus 1 percent drop while in the Hispanic market it increased 14 percent. With men 18-49, there was a 4 percent rise in the general market while Hispanics showed a 20 percent increase. With Generation C, which is the 18-49 demo, the general market rose 1 percent compared to a 15 percent increase among Hispanics. These are huge numbers and dramatic growth rates when you consider a Hispanic population of 50 million people.

America now has a large second-generation of English-dominant Hispanics. How are they balancing the desire to acculturate without losing ethnic traditions?

Balancing acculturation is and has been an issue whether you’re a recent immigrant or U.S.-born Hispanic. For marketers, it’s more important to understand our culture than our language because they can reach us in Spanish or English or even Spanglish.

Why do Hispanics overindex in all things digital?

Technology reflects our cultural traits and magnifies them. We’re communal, we have large extended families, we’re more engaged with each other, and we thrive with all these touch points that give us choices in language, how content is delivered, and the content itself.

How are marketers spending to reach Hispanics, and how has that spending held up through the downturn?

Six percent of measured media is spent in Hispanic channels, and 16 percent of the population is Hispanic. While general market advertising in these tough economic times had some downticks, Hispanic spending showed modest growth. If you look at key spending categories, Hispanic consumers overindex in categories like telecom, food and apparel. It just doesn’t make good business sense to not be heavily invested in the market.

How has your general market agency experience at Ogilvy and stint at P&G influenced the kind of agency you want Acento to be?

I’ve learned there are smart people everywhere, so when we took over Acento three years ago, I made a point of growing it as David Ogilvy advised, by hiring people who are smarter than me. We have people who come from general market agencies, the client side, other Hispanic agencies, and it’s given us a really strong culture that is focused on doing the best possible work.

Your son, Roberto, is a successful Hollywood producer and writer, a co-creator of Fringe who also was a producer on films like Star Trek, Mission Impossible III and Aliens & Cowboys. Did you influence his career choice?

As Bob was growing up, he was very much exposed to marketing and advertising. He interned at the agency when he was a kid. He understood a lot of the things we do, like storytelling, and he chose to express that by going into film and television. My other son, J.R., is also a writer and producer who writes for Fringe and before that, Alias. Bob and I are doing some interesting projects together now. One is developing online content with some half-hour series. There is opportunity for brand integration, but the main focus is to have great storytelling on the third screen. We’re also working with him on content to promote two films he’s making: Now You See Me, about a group of magicians that pull off an amazing heist; and Ender’s Game, based on a sci-fi future warfare graphic novel.