Friday, March 12, 2010

Latin Artist Harnesses Power of Social Media

Laz Marquez, an up-and-coming graphic artist and art director, is taking the web by storm with several groundswell projects. Marquez, on his latest blog initiative reimagined four iconic Hitchcock movie posters including the Vertigo one seen here on Cultura-Tech. On Face It, the artist posts images from everday life that serve as emoticons to express how he feels on any given day. And, the artist is an active Twitter user - sharing his thoughts on everything from art and design to cinema and music. No doubt, Laz Marquez is a social media maven and artist that we all need to follow. Next up - he's reimagining movie posters from classic Steven King films.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hispanic Agencies: It's time to invest

With the US Census in full swing - Hispanic media and marketing agencies are salivating at the potential boondoggle of new clients and a surge in spending from existing players. Yet, I ask myself: is the Hispanic market resting on its laurels? What innovations have been made in the past decade?

The days of saying, "trust us, we are experts," is over. The industry needs to invest in tools. Here are three that the industry desperately needs:

1) Multidimensional segmentation w/ overlay of acculturation
We need to stop treating the US Hispanic market like one big segment. We are all different - just like the general market. We need to leverage those differences and customize messages to the "right" audience. We also need to understand how acculturation impacts Hispanics interaction with different categories. What role then does language play in this mix and how can we use different channels (both Hispanic-targeted and general market placements) to reach this more qualified audience.

2) Channel-Neutral Planning Tools
If I see one more media plan with 100% TV - I'm going to shoot myself. The general market multicultural "experts" are the biggest offenders, but there are several Hispanic agencies that do the same. There is this thing called the internet and Hispanics are totally flocking to it. Crazy idea - perhaps you should include it in your next channel mix? Think about it. A channel neutral tool would help justify these investments if it is properly calibrated with actual data.

3) Culture-O-Meter
This one is related to #1. We constantly talk about the need for "cultural relevance" in order to effectively reach the US Hispanic market. But, we all know that there are cultural insights and then there are just bad stereotypes. Shy away from the latter. Cultural insights should represent how cultural heritage impacts how a person interacts with a specific category. But, all too often - we let clients bully us into a sombrero or a "upbeat" salsa rhythm. Develop a qualitative tool that demonstrates how culture impacts their business. Then leverage that nuance in communications....but spare us the sombrero unless of course you are selling sombreros.

I look forward to seeing how the industry evolves - hoping that it starts investing in its future before the general market agencies do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why Hyundai Should Buy Saturn

So GM is in bankruptcy and it has definitively noted it will be shedding the Saturn brand. Apparently there are up to 16 suitors. I hope one of them is Hyundai.

Hyundai and sister brand, Kia, have long struggled to make a name for themselves in the US market. They have tried to position themselves as the car for the smart buyer - one who understands quality and good value. The problem - consumers don't think that way in spite of all of those consumer reports and meaningless industry accolades. Trusted brands sell cars - sometimes crappy ones. But if your brand doesn't have any real equity or simply holds a terciary role in the mind of consumers - you're sunk.

Despite Hyundai's best efforts, snazzy marketing campaigns and developing some truly spectacular cars which have won countless awards - they still sell fewer cars than many luxury brands without the profit margins to match.

Perhaps it's time to shed the Hyundai brand and help revive a name that actually means something to Americans? The Saturn brand stands for great value, affordable cars for young people who don't want to deal with sleazy car dealers or silly marketing speak. When GM launched Saturn - they asked then agency, Hal Riney, their opionion of the name for their new sedan, the Aura. Hal Riney's response - call the damn thing the Saturn Sedan. Enough with the stupid naming conventions.

This and many other innovations developed a brand with a strong following. While GM has certainly let Saturn slide, Hyundai would be smart to pick this puppy up and truly establish the Koreans as players in the US market.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu on the Web

I've been monitoring the news coverage on the swine flu outbreak and have noticed signs of panic on the web as chatter touches on a potential pandemic. No one is more concerned than Mexican-Americans - folks that not only are concerned about their health here in the U.S., but also for relatives back in Mexico. MySpace Latino has seen an increase in talk within its forums on the subject and no doubt thatMexico’s national newspaper, La Reforma, and its site, are seeing an increase in traffic as people try to stay abreast of the developments.

This is really scary stuff, but I'm thankful the web provides access to information at our fingertips to stay informed, and dispel myths or clarify misinformation. I think about the early days of HIV and imagine how frightening it must have been to not know what the disease was, how one contracted it and not have any place to find out info.

What an amazing time we live in to be able to share information and track developments in real time. I hope that this sickness is contained and those affected, recover. Certainly, the web will continue to be my destination for the latest and greatest.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hispanic Behavioral Targeting

As the Hispanic online audience has grown to over 20 million, so too have the methods for reaching them. The level of sophistication for behavioral targeting increased rapidly over the years.

Today, several networks, including AOL’s Platform-A, have introduced several options for advertisers to reach Hispanics via content type, language and geotargeting. Not to mention, there are ways for these ad networks to get as granular as identifying purchase intent for various categories like auto or finance.

While certainly this is a positive for advertisers who want to avoid wasteful, untargeted investments, what about those who are being targeted? Many of us online go about our business without giving much thought to the recording of our actions online by cookies. Yet, the more one sits to think about the level of data being recorded about our activites, it becomes a bit scary.

On one side of the debate, you could argue that this recorded information will make our lives easier. We'll have an online experience that is more customized, personalized to our interests and needs. On the other side, you could argue that big brother watching over us is nothing short of a police state.

As the law struggles to catch up to the realities of today's technology and the promise of more advanced methods tomorrow, how will the world's governments address the growing concern over consumer privacy?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

iPhone App Gives Apple an Ethical Headache

Apple pulled a controversial iPhone application just two days after the software designer, Sikalosoft, put the app on sale for .99 cents. The problem: the application, "Baby Shaker" gave users the opportunity to shake a gerber-esque baby so harshly as to put a stop to its crying.

This is straight from the promotional materials: "Babies are everywhere you don't want them to be! They're always distracting you from preparing for that big presentation at work with their incessant crying. Before Baby Shaker there was nothing you could do about it."

Apple's decision comes after harsh criticism from several organizations including the Shaken Baby Syndrome Foundation. Certainly, the slack from this will weigh heavily on Apple over the coming weeks.

Apple may have to decide to put limits on its extremely democratized application development software. The ethical dilemma persists, to be free for all or limit the freedom to monitor and control?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Social GPS Convergence

Over the past 2 months, I've been tracking my friend, Heidi, on Google Latitude. We've opted in to see where each of us are at throughout the day via our mobile phone and online. Just the other day I texted her to find out why she was in Southport, CT. (She was outlet shopping.)

Loopt is another service that offers folks the opportunity to see small profiles of friends and strangers alike and connect with them. Imagine spotting an attractive guy/gal within a two block radius and asking them out for coffee? Unlikely? Not really - my roommate did just that. Certainly this is a dangerous technology - you may not want everyone to see where you are at all times.

But I thought, given Hispanics' propensity to socialize - maybe this technology will find huge adoption amongst Latinos? Does that data exist? No. But impromptu connections and a fluid idea of personal space make Latitude and Loopt interesting social enhancers for Hispanics. It will be interesting to see how the use of social GPS application evolves and how multicultural audiences adopt and adapt these technologies in the future.