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Mas Promos Aim to Widen Latino Base

Sep 8, 2003  •  Post A Comment

For NBC Cable Networks, it’s all about mas appeal this fall.

The NBC division responsible for the broadcast network’s cable channels is launching Mas, a branding campaign designed to help cable operators expand and retain their Latino customer base. Mas, which means “more” in Spanish, marks the first time a cable network has launched a promotional effort that seeks to increase the number of Latino cable customers.

The $1 million promotional effort begins Sept. 22, coinciding with National Hispanic Heritage Month. It will rely heavily on three 30-second spots produced by NBC Cable to run on the Telemundo Spanish-language network and on mun2, a cable channel that caters largely to younger, English-speaking Latinos. NBC Cable plans to make the ads available to cable operators as well. Plans are also under way to run ads on Spanish-language radio stations and in Spanish-language newspapers.

“This is something that has not been done before,” said Mark Hotz, NBC Cable’s senior VP of marketing. “Eighty percent of the population growth in this country is driven by Latinos, and we wanted to use our brand equity to leverage that.”

In one television spot, a woman is driving to pick up her daughters from school as a male voice-over says the woman used to love to go to the movies on Friday nights but doesn’t these days because the cost of taking her husband, three kids, grandmother and uncle is prohibitive. The voice-over notes that cable television can provide her family with a plethora of programming at a monthly cost less than the price of taking the family to the movies once.

In another, a young man sits down at the kitchen table and opens a laptop while his mother looks on. The voice-over describes how the young man’s sister has married and moved away and says that cable, in particular high-speed Internet, enables him to send and receive photos and videos easily.

At the end of each spot is the tagline, “Quiero mas. Quiero cable,” which translates to “I want more. I want cable.”

The spots will be considerably toned down, compared with the traditional commercial spots that run on Spanish-language television, which tend to be aggressive and effusive. NBC Cable officials hope the low-key nature of their ads will grab viewers’ attention.

The effort will be tied to several programs on Telemundo and mun2, including Telemundo’s morning show “De Mananita” and mun2’s technology news briefs.

The campaign is designed to chip away at some of the misconceptions held by some in the Latino community about cable and to introduce cable to people who might not be familiar with the service, said Lynette Pinto, NBC Cable’s VP of marketing and Telemundo’s former VP of marketing and promotions.

“We wanted to show that cable has a wide offering of programming” to Hispanic viewers, she said, adding that she believes Telemundo’s and mun2’s strengths in the Latino community will go a long way toward convincing potential customers to sign up for cable service.

The stakes are huge. According to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, the Hispanic population grew 61 percent between 1990 and 2003 to hit 35.3 million and is expected to triple in size by 2050 to account for 24 percent of the total U.S. population. Yet, according to Ms. Pinto, just 54 percent of the 15 million Latino households in the United States are wired with cable.

Part of the reason is that many Hispanics have become satisfied with the three or four Spanish-language broadcast stations in many markets. Plus, for many recent immigrants, the concept of cable TV is unfamiliar, particularly if cable was available to only the wealthy in their native countries.

However, with a growing number of Hispanics beginning to migrate into even smaller television markets, Ms. Pinto believes the need for cable can only grow, especially if there are no Spanish-language broadcasters in those markets.

At NBC Networks, officials said the upside of the effort is less about ratings for its Spanish-language networks than it is about broadening cable’s appeal among a segment of the population that is quickly gaining the attention of advertisers and television programmers.

Yet laying the groundwork now could pay off in ratings later. As part of its Olympics coverage, NBC plans to telecast Olympics events on its Spanish-language networks, starting with next year’s Games in Athens, Greece. Getting a few more eyeballs to watch events on Telemundo can’t hurt.