GE Aims to Capitalize on Growth of Hispanic Market

When General Electric launched its “We bring good things to life” campaign in 1979, Hispanics made up 7 percent of the U.S. population and the effort had no component targeting that group.

Today, Hispanics make up almost 13 percent, and that number is expected to grow to 17 percent by 2020. In an effort to capitalize on that growth, GE’s new “Imagination at work” campaign, by general-market agency BBDO in New York, will have a Hispanic element, part of what the client says will be a more aggressive Hispanic marketing strategy.

“We are specifically looking at investors, customers, employees and future employees with this new campaign,” said Judy Hu, GE’s general manager for corporate advertising and marketing communications. “As the Hispanic population grows, we expect them to be a part of the groups we’re looking at.”

Fairfield, Conn.-based GE ranked 37th in 2002 corporate Hispanic ad spending with a $5 million spend; Procter & Gamble topped the list with a $70 million spend, according to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. But the GE figure is slated to grow now that the company has added two Hispanic specialty shops to its roster. Omnicom-backed Dieste Harmel & Partners in Dallas handles corporate work, and Zubi Advertising in Coral Gables, Fla., creates ads for one of GE’s subsidiaries, GE Financial Assurance in Richmond, Va.

Dieste and Zubi picked up the accounts last month following a review that included The Vidal Partnership, New York, the client confirmed.

The agencies’ GE business could grow. “I think Dieste or Zubi might both pick up other units as we move forward,” Hu said. “Right now we’re looking at year one and are focused on using [the shops] on specific products for corporate and GE Financial.”

Hu said details of Dieste’s account, including the ad budget, have not been decided.

“There’s a huge opportunity to make this brand relevant to Hispanics,” said president Tony Dieste. “For years they haven’t had that exposure.”

For the estimated $2-3 million GEFA account, Zubi will “position the brand name and product portfolio,” said Victor Perea, GEFA vp of diversity marketing. “We want them to provide us with the expertise they have already collected in this market.”

Following an analysis of Hispanic consumer behavior regarding financial planning, Zubi will create a print and TV campaign that trades on GE’s well-established brand name.

“There’s not a lot of financial services targeting Hispanics now, but there will be a glut of information soon,” said shop evp Joe Zubizarreta. “We want to position GE in a way that makes it relevant and urgent before anyone else does.”

GEFA competes with Prudential, Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab and most banks. Among competitors, Bank of America, at $15 million annually, spends the most on Hispanic ads, according to the AHAA.

“The category is one of the hottest for new Hispanic development out there,” said Zubizarreta. “We’ll create awareness that GE has financial services and explain the services and why GE is the right company.”

Perea pointed to GE-owned NBC’s 2002 purchase of Hispanic broadcaster Telemundo as evidence of GE’s commitment to the Hispanic market. “We started looking for different ways to start servicing the U.S. Hispanic market a couple of years ago.”