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Advertisers aiming dollars at Hispanics --Companies target Spanish media, community events

MIAMI - -- Halfway through Univision's top-rated variety show, "Sabado Gigante," host Don Francisco yells out: "Vamos a cantarle a State Farm! Musica, maestro!" -- "Let's sing to State Farm! "The audience swings into a snappy rendition of a song that praises State Farm Insurance -- part of the company's marketing strategy that is pumping more dollars into Hispanic marketing than ever before.

An increasing number of advertisers, especially consumer-product companies and financial-services firms, are reaching out to U.S. Hispanics and putting a larger share of their ad budgets into Spanish-language media and community-event sponsorships.

Earlier this month, video-game publisher Sega announced its biggest Hispanic marketing campaign with the launch of its latest Wii title, Daisy Fuentes' Pilates. Kellogg is adding "a touch of honey" to its Corn Flakes cereal to court Hispanic consumers who prefer honey as a natural sweetener. Fifth Third Bank, based in Cincinnati, is expanding its reach to Hispanics in seven markets -- including four in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Naples and Ft. Myers -- with radio, print and online ads. The bank is also sponsoring local workshops to help consumers with their finances during the recession.

More than $5 billion was aimed at the Hispanic market in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence, an advertising market research firm.The amount was down slightly (0.08 percent) from the 2007 figure -- far less than the 4 percent drop in overall marketing spending, from $126.7 billion in 2007 to $121.8 billion in 2008.

As for State Farm, the Bloomington, Ill., company is spending more money to reach U.S. Hispanics this year than it did in 2008, says Mark Gibson, assistant vice president for advertising for State Farm. State Farm, regularly among the top 10 marketers to Latinos, spent nearly $58 million in advertising in Spanish-language TV, magazines and newspapers in 2008, doubling what it had spent in the prior year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Though the insurer has marketed to Hispanics for the past decade, it accelerated its efforts three years ago when it began to sponsor "Sabado Gigante." Last year, it added the Fiesta del Jonron (a traveling home-run derby and Hispanic baseball hall of fame) and added the Latin Billboard sponsorship. State Farm agents sponsor bike-safety fairs and local baseball and soccer teams. This year's increased dollars will go toward traditional TV, print, online and radio advertising as well as event and sponsorship marketing."Consumers are savvy today. They understand when they are being advertised to," says Gibson." But you can take a relationship deeper when you can connect with consumers in ways they don't necessarily expect."

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune


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