Spanish Daily Set to Make Pitch to Readers in Dallas

The Dallas Morning News is looking for a shop to tout its new Spanish-language daily, a vehicle its parent, Belo Corp., hopes will capture readers and advertisers from the area’s Hispanics, about a quarter of the total population.

Contenders for Al Dia’s creative and media duties are independent Ornelas & Associates, Publicis Groupe-backed Moroch Latino/Leo Burnett USA and Omnicom-backed Cultura, all Dallas, according to sources.

The paper is scheduled to launch this fall and will initially be free. There are 800,000 Hispanics in the Dallas metropolitan area, a number that has grown 325 percent since 1980, according to the Center on Urban & Metropolitan Policy and the Pew Hispanic Center.

The Morning News projects an initial circulation of 40,000 for Al Dia through home delivery and single-copy sales. The paper will target Spanish-dominant speakers, with bilingual speakers a secondary target, according to Morning News vp and executive editor Gilbert Bailon, who is heading the launch.

Although the number of Spanish publications nationwide has grown over the past decade along with the country’s Hispanic population, Al Dia will be one of only a handful of Spanish-language dailies in the U.S., Bailon said. Others include Tribune Co.-backed La Opinión in Los Angeles, Knight Ridder’s El Nuevo Herald in South Florida, Tribune’s Hoy and the privately owned El Diario/La Prensa, both in New York.

Like those dailies, Al Dia will not be a translation of a general-market paper. “We’re putting a lot of resources here, and it’s being taken very seriously,” Bailon said.

“[Latinos] are the fastest-growing population in the area, and [the Morning News] is not hitting them as consumers or advertisers,” Bailon said. “This is a different model that advertisers are asking for. For some advertisers, having pre-print coupons or run-of-the-paper advertising is hard to find on a regular basis.”

The paper will compete with 19 local Latino publications, including La Estrella, a twice-weekly publication of the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas. It marks the second attempt of the Morning News to launch a Spanish venture. La Fuente, which Bailon calls an “advertorial” publication, closed in 2001 after a five-year run.

Douchka Lecot, a media buyer for Cinco Media Communications in Dallas, said a daily Spanish-language paper by a reputable publisher may be a draw to Anglo advertisers, who often are surprised they have few daily-newspaper options for that audience. She said she is waiting to see Al Dia’s content before pitching the paper to her clients.

“I need to make sure they’re covering the right topics for our community and are reflecting the clients’ needs,” she said, adding that although “[La Fuente] wasn’t always reaching the right people,” Al Dia should be distributed in all the Hispanic communities in the Dallas area.

The paper is not a compelling vehicle for Kim Chance, group media director of Publicis’ Bromley Communications, San Antonio. She said the subscriber target is still too low to interest many of her national advertisers.

“That’s a problem we’re having with a lot of these [Hispanic] publications,” she said. “You can only hit the same 40,000 people over the head unless they increase the distribution.”

According to Western Publication Research, 85 percent of advertising in Spanish daily newspapers was local in 2002.

Ad spending on Al Dia was not disclosed.