Planning to Market to Hispanics? Part 3

Planning to Market to Hispanic’s? Part 3 by Melissa Adams

Hello Readers,

As I continue my series titled Planning to Market to Hispanics? This post will focus on:

Al Aguilar Co-Founder, Chairman/CEO at Creative Civilization

Al Aguilar is the Co-Founder, Chairman/CEO of Creative Civilization and he is a nationally recognized Marketing Executive and considered a trailblazer among his peers in advertising. Mr. Aguilar has worked with many of Americas biggest brands including Coca-Cola, American Airlines, ING, the San Antonio Spurs, General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Anheuser-Busch, and Sprint.

The most important thing you should know about Al Aguilar is that he is a visionary who used creative strategies to advance the Hispanic marketing industry. He is considered a pioneer of Hispanic marketing, and he is a founding member of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA). He is also the founding chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (AAAA) Hispanic Committee.

He has also led his teams to be recognized with numerous achievements in advertising through the receipt of many awards such as, CLIOS, Addys, and Imagen Awards and twice named Southwest Agency of the Year by Adweek Magazine. So it came as no surprise when Al Aguilar received the National 2012 Hispanic Marketing Achievement Award at the 16th Annual Hispanic Marketing Midwest Conference on July 19 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Al Aguilar earned his degree from the University of Texas, and begin his career in marketing. Al is considered a trailblazer because he paved the way. He was part of the first-ever Hispanic marketing department for Coca-Cola USA, and eventually a principal of Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates, the largest Hispanic advertising agency in the U.S. (

Foto de David MacKenzie Ogilvy

Foto de David MacKenzie Ogilvy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Al told us he read a book by advertising legend David Ogilvy titled “Confessions of an Advertising man” and how his fondness for David Ogilvy sparked his interest in Advertising.

Al Aguilar’s presentation was titled Survive or Thrive? Confessions of A Hispanic Ad Man. Al Aguilar covered four points, Inspiration, Exploration, Actualization, and Redefinition in his presentation.

Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes and it is “All Around us” according to Mr. Aguilar “to motivate endless creative possibilities through the vast stimuli we consume every day”. He points out great achievements made by Hispanics in the areas of entertainment, sports, politics, music, and business, as well as science and medicine as Inspiration to the Hispanic community.

Al Aguilar says one thing he noticed is there are misconceptions regarding the U.S. Hispanic community. He says, “The misconception that Hispanics are resisting acculturation into the American mainstream is incorrect”

Mr. Aguilar says “Hispanics want to enjoy the best of both worlds, English language and Spanish language. Hispanic culture and American culture are becoming a fusion. The American mainstream is being redefined by Hispanic influence. The same way it is influenced by other cultures. In America the acculturation process works both ways.” Al explained to the attendees of the conference that U.S. Hispanics, who use of Facebook, Twitter and other Social networking cites, are at an all- time high and he expects usage to increase even more in the coming years. So as marketers you should be inspired by all the things around you…Hispanic’s are.

Exploration: Mr. Aguilar used an example of his time at Coca-Cola USA as an example of how being willing to explore was very successful for him. He actually did something that had never been done before. Mr. Aguilar and his team at Coca-Cola in the “Hispanic” marketing department convinced some producers at a major network to air a Spanish language Coke Classic commercial on an English channel. It was the first Spanish language crossover commercial to run on an English TV Network.

Mr. Aguilar is also very proud of the fact that his was the first Hispanic owned and operated ad agency to go “total Market”.

Total market is a marketing term used to express Audience Measurement; it means Mr. Aguilar’s Agency not only created Hispanic Marketing Materials but his agency also created great ads for mainstream America. Mr. Aguilar’s agency Creative Civilization is uniquely different offering a full range of creative solutions to the general market, the Hispanic market, and the business-to-business market.

Actualization (Authenticity): Mr. Aguilar says “The biggest challenge continues to be in getting invited to participate in the strategic planning process from the beginning, versus being handed a general market campaign and being asked to simply translate it.” Mr. Aguilar said “we are not just ‘Hispanic Marketers’ we are marketers who happen to be Hispanic.”

Redefinition: Mr. Aguilar says “a funny thing happened when the advertising industry discovered that Hispanic advertising budgets had grown to a level that could help their bottom line…” Can you guess what happened? Well if you can’t I will fill you in, he says “a new advertising agency model was born-the holding company owned Hispanic advertising agency.

A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies’ outstanding stock. The term usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies.

According to Mr. Aguilar “today, general market agencies are taking away Hispanic advertising agency duties and budgets from both independent Hispanic ad agencies and wholly owned Hispanic ad agency division. They call it ‘consolidation and cost savings.’”

It’s unfair to the consumer and it’s unfair to the Hispanic marketing agencies. Mr. Aguilar posed the question:

“So, what are Hispanic ad agencies to do, survive or thrive?”

To survive is to defend out sacred Hispanic advertising territory:

‘We do it better because we are Hispanic and we don’t just translate general market campaigns.’

To thrive is to play offense in a new way

‘If they can play in my sandbox, I can play in theirs.’

I really liked Mr. Aguilar’s “Four Pillars of Change”:

Demography- Hispanics population boom

Psychology- Beyond language preference, in-culture relevance

Technology- Mobile everything

Economy – CFO Reigns over CMO

So how are agencies thriving vs. surviving?

Mr. Aguilar says agencies can thrive by:

Seeking new revenue: In fact he says that general market agencies are promising in-house Hispanic marketing for less cost and Hispanic ad agencies are promising in-house general market advertising for less cost

Acquiring talent to deliver and make that claim with credibility

Making digital a basic agency service (internet, online video, mobile, apps, social media, etc.)

Mr. Aguilar offered the room of clients, agencies and media industry leaders from around the country some solid tips and advice on how to thrive in today’s market. The tip that stood out the most to me was

“Focus on understanding consumers and creating powerful ideas” I also think one of the biggest take a ways for me was his mantra “Inspiration is All Around Us.”

The marketing environment is constantly changing and like Mr. Aguilar I believe as entrepreneurs we also need to be agents of change. 

If interested in being an Agent of Change but you not sure where to start? Learn more

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