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Bocage Revs Multicultural Programs for GM

Jan 23, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The importance of multicultural marketing became obvious to Linda Bocage early in her career.
Starting out as a media planner, some research she was given about her client, Wrigley, led her to develop marketing programs directed at African American and Hispanic consumers. Now, as VP and multicultural investment director for GM Planworks, Ms. Bocage is in the driver’s seat for one of the nation’s largest advertisers.
Ms. Bocage notes that General Motors is hardly a newcomer to multicultural marketing. The function has been with the agency since Planworks was formed by Starcom MediaVest Group. She will be working closely with her predecessor, Lia Silkworth, who as a VP and director for GM Planworks handles the activation end of the multicultural assignment from Seattle, where she moved after her husband landed a new job there.
“It’s very exciting to work on such a large and frankly pretty progressive account in terms of the type of things they’ve done,” Ms. Bocage said. “We’ve been involved with a lot of great new programs.”
As Ms. Bocage came on board, General Motors was working with Jennifer Lopez’s production company on the telenovela “La Flor Palida.”
“We had several different models that were part of the production,” Ms. Bocage said. “We overuse the word ‘organic,’ unfortunately, but I’ll drag that out one more time here. I think they did it in a compelling and appropriate manner so the vehicles didn’t look out of place” when they were part of scenes.
The show had a five-week run on Univision starting in October. “We’ll see what the next steps are in terms of working together in the future,” she said.
About her days in minority marketing on the Wrigley account at BBDO, Ms Bocage said, “They had a lot of very rich data that pointed to the fact that this was an opportunity. As a planner you’re looking at what opportunities you can direct your clients to that might grow their business.”
She helped develop Wrigley’s first African American program and its first Hispanic program.
“It was exciting stuff,” she said, recalling meeting John Johnson, founder of the publishing giant.
Since then, multicultural marketing has always been part of her brief.
Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Ms. Bocage became interested in marketing, taking classes at DePaul. A friend tipped her off that a low-level position was available in the media department at BBDO’s Chicago office and she got the job.
As an assistant media planner working at BBDO, she was also given executional assignments, buying radio, print or out-of-home.
“What was great about that was you had the ability to see the strategy executed into the marketplace,” she said. “As I moved on in my career and joined Mindshare and got more into the investment side, I love the fact that my planning background really forced me and my group to be very cognizant of what we were really trying to achieve here, versus, ‘I’ve got to quickly negotiate this buy and get on with it’ type of thing.”
Ms. Bocage joined MindShare in 2000 and was named senior partner there in 2002. Previously, she was with OMD, which grew out of the media departments of BBDO and other Omnicom agencies.
In her spare time, Ms. Bocage and her husband are busily planning their salsa garden.
“We grow everything, the tomatoes, the cilantro, the peppers,” she said. They’re deciding on whether to experiment with some new pepper varieties this year.
She’s also working on her Spanish-language skills. “I’m lamenting my decision to take French in school instead of Spanish. What was I thinking?” she said. Her husband, who lived in Chile as a child, is helping her out.
The couple also golf together, although there has been a hiatus on that activity. “Our golfing styles were diverging,” she said. That means, in part, that one was scoring much lower than the other, and it wasn’t her.
“I wish I could say that. He is the natural athlete; yours truly, not so much.”
Who knew: Ms. Bocage and her husband both horrified and delighted their teenage nieces and nephews by demonstrating surprising skills with Nintendo’s Wii system. The kids were glad to see their aunt had the game when they visited over the holidays, but were less happy after they got beaten in video bowling and golf. “It was beautiful. We got some newfound respect,” she said.

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