Azteca America, the newest national Spanish-language network, is using the fact that it produces and controls its own programming to its advantage in its sales pitch to national advertisers.
“We’re telling agencies and their clients if they come up with any creative advertising or marketing ideas, we want to be your first call,” said Phillip Woodie, the network’s president of sales and marketing. “Nine times out of 10 we can execute an idea because we control our programming.”
The Mexican-owned network’s strong point to national advertisers is its multiple integrated advertising capabilities besides spots, including product placement, advertiser interviews to explain its products, electronic logo displays on the screen and capsule taped interviews using network talent.
This approach at the network’s first upfront resulted in Hispanic ad agencies placing clients Bank of America, MCI, Western Union, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Volkswagen, Chrysler, Mervyn’s, Wal-Mart, Target, Tecate beer and the “Drink Milk” campaign on the fledging network, which debuted in fall 2001 with one station, KAZA-TV in Los Angeles, and now boasts 24 affiliates across the country,
Mr. Woodie anticipates 42 national advertisers signing up by September.
Among its additional upfront selling points: Since the parent TV Azteca’s programming has been available in Mexico and Central America for the past 10 years, immigrants to the United States are familiar with it. And many of its shows skew to a young demographic, notably “La Academia,” a Spanish version of “American Idol” plus weekend soccer matches and novelas.
While four of the participants from “La Academia” performed at the upfront, players from the company-owned championship soccer team, Monaracas Norelia, appear in commercials on other shows, according to Mr. Woodie.
Three advertisers using product placement include McDonald’s in the novella “Enamorate,” Unilever’s instant soup in “La Academia” and car manufacturer Seat from Volkswagen inserting its Ibiza model in the morning variety show “Cada Manhana,” which is similar to ABC’s “The View.”
Other programs that are prime locales for integrated advertising include the live variety show “Con Sello De Mujer” and the live magazine show “Ventaneando,” which Mr. Woodie calls an “`E.T.’ in Spanish.”
“We’ve been doing product integration in Mexico for the last 10 years, so we know how to execute it here in the U.S. No other Hispanic network has this flexibility,” stressed Mr. Woodie, who joined the company in May of last year from Univision, where he’d been VP, national sales since 1996.
The network opened a New York office in May of last year and began meeting with agencies in January. “Before we signed up stations in New York and Miami in December, the majority of our affiliates were on the West Coast,” Mr. Woodie said.
Since it’s the new kid on the block, the network’s costs per thousand “are 50 percent below Univision and Telemundo,” Mr. Woodie said. With one evening newscast, “Hechos America” produced in Mexico City exclusively for the U.S. audience and two newscasts, “Hechos A.M.” and “Hechos Noche” from the Mexican network also airing on Azteca America, Mr. Woodie said the company tries to bundle ad sales for all three, but advertisers naturally favor the American-aimed newscast. “We do blend news topics which are relevant to the U.S. with stories which interest Hispanics who want to be in touch with things back home,” he said.
With the network’s splitting 12 minutes of avails per hour with its affiliates, Emilio Nicolas Jr., general manager of Houston’s full-power KAZH-TV, has no problem signing up local advertisers. “Our biggest ad categories are automotive, furniture, supermarkets and restaurants. Paid infomercials run mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. We have a new show, `Estrenando Casa,’ which is aimed at first-time home buyers, and several homebuilders are its sponsors. It airs Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Salvadoran businesses sponsor our Salvadoran show, `Salvadoreno’s del Corazon,’ Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.”
In addition to these two shows, KAZH has five other local programs encompassing religion, entertainment, music videos, special interviews and the just begun “El Zoom TV,” featuring a combination of backstage interviews with Latin stars in the city and music videos. Mr. Nicolas said the station’s first local half-hour news at 10 p.m. is slated for either a 2004 first- or second-quarter start.
Salvadorans total 150,000, or 10 percent of the city’s Hispanic population and are the next-largest group after Mexican Americans. What’s unique about the Houston market, explained Mr. Nicolas, is that “78 percent of Hispanics arrived during the last census period and that benefits our station as well, because they arrive familiar with Azteca’s programming, which they’ve seen in Mexico or Central America.”
Mr. Nicolas notes that because Nielsen has a problem placing meters in Spanish-language-dominated households, “I can’t sell ratings, but I do sell instant recognition and instant results.”
The network’s soccer telecasts are sold out and a one-time rate for a spot goes from $250 to $300. Rates for packaged shows, national and local, range from $150 to $200 for a 30-second spot. Noted Mr. Nicolas: “Advertisers are expanding their budgets to add us, like the Fiesta Marts … and Gallery Furniture, another major company.”
Among the station’s 80 local advertisers are: American Latino furniture, Gomez Western Wear, Clear Channel Entertainment, Davis Chevrolet, Mi Tierra Auto, Randal Reed Ford and Optica Latina and Marina Tours.