Hispanic Marketing World Insulated From Economy?

The stock market’s continued its journey to hell in a handbasket for a fourth straight week, executives in the Hispanic marketing world were fairly blase, considering themselves fairly insulated from the economy’s gyrations.

Because the market is still growing-the U.S. Latino population is expected to rise from 41.7 million in 2008 to 43.4 million in 2009-and because the media targeting them is magnitudes cheaper than traditional vehicles, execs say they are well-placed to get through the maelstrom.

At the halfway point of the year, spend across all Spanish-language media was running ahead of 2007 by 1.5 percent, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, putting it on course to arrive at somewhere round the $5.2 billion mark for 2008. That compares to a shortfall of 1.4 percent for the same period in the general market.

Nevertheless, some marketers are pulling back on their Spanish-language spend: Domestic automotive brands in particular have slashed dollars they previously directed toward Spanish-language TV. And some execs said cuts may come later, in 2009, as the recession filters through clients’ budgeting process. But right now, for every budget heading south, there’s a new one popping up, they say.

An example: General Motors recently called a sales exec at Fox Sports en Espanol to say that is fourth-quarter budget would be cut by 50 percent. As the man put the phone down it rang again, with a call from Prudential, the insurer, placing a new budget with the channel. “It completely offset the money,” said Tom Maney, the channel’s svp sales.

Most execs expect 2008 and 2009 to see either flat or low-single-digit growth. On the TV side, it is too early to gauge the effect of the crisis. Upfront deals are contracted through the second and third quarter of the fiscal year, so cancellation options will not mature until 2009.
“Everybody is looking at the second half of the fiscal year to see whether they can cut costs,” Maney said.

There are three other reasons why the Hispanic market may be relatively insulated against the downturn: