Marroquin Seeks to Make Name for Himself

Mar 4, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Rick Marroquin is working on coming up with a name for his new company.
Mediabrands, a division of Interpublic Group, recently appointed Mr. Marroquin managing director of a yet-unnamed new business unit that will focus on Hispanic media and marketing.
The name isn’t the highest priority; staffing up is. After 25 days on the job, Mr. Marroquin, a former director of Hispanic marketing for McDonald’s, is the unit’s only employee.
“Ultimately the agency’s No. 1 asset is its people. I have to go out and really seek the top-level talent in the marketplace,” he says.
Top on his list is an experienced strategic planner.
“I need a very strong personality in that role because I have a strong personality,” he says. “I think divergent points of view and divergent thinking on the marketplace lead to stronger thinking and better end results for our clients.”
The company also has no clients yet.
Mr. Marroquin has spent much of his time so far introducing himself to Interpublic’s media agencies, Initiative and Universal McCann, and figuring out which of their clients could benefit from better thinking about the Hispanic marketplace.
He doesn’t expect to be handed business, however.
“I know if I’m sitting in [Initiative’s] Tim Spengler’s shoes or if I’m sitting in [Universal McCann’s] Matt Seiler’s shoes, just because this guy walks into the building and says he’s an expert in Hispanic marketing and media, I can’t in good conscience turn over business just because this guy talked a good game,” he says. “I really need to be able to understand who it is, what they’re doing and what their philosophy is before I’d put any of my clients in their hands, right?”
The key to the unit’s approach will be what Mr. Marroquin calls “total market planning,” which means planning multicultural media at the same time general market plans are being formulated.
“You don’t do planning for one market and then add on Hispanic, African American and Asian once you’re done planning for the general market,” he says. “It’s got to be done in totality to reach the efficiency and to have significant impact with consumers and to be as effective as you can with the dollars you’ve got at hand.”
Mr. Marroquin also wants his company to stand for innovation.
“The Hispanic media space has been one that has been very slow to adopt innovation and slow to adopt change, and I believe I can bring change,” he says. “Innovation is something the Hispanic consumer is starving for and seeking out. There’s still opportunity to do more, and I think media can drive a lot of the growth for clients in this type of environment.”
Mr. Marroquin’s mother and grandmother came to the United States from Guatemala in 1953 and settled in Chicago. He was born in 1971.
“I was raised by two very strong Latina women, taught Spanish in the home, told that Spanish is so important to me,” he says.
That conflicted with some attitudes at the time in Chicago.
His grandmother never learned English, and one day when he was 8 or 9 years old, he was shopping with his grandmother, speaking to her in Spanish.
“I had a woman come up to me and she said: ‘You’re in America now. Speak English,’” he recalls.
“I’ve seen the dynamic change in this country, where being Hispanic is something to take pride in,” he says.
Helping to change people’s minds in the business world were the numbers from the 2000 census, which made marketers realize the importance of the market.
Mr. Marroquin attended the University of Miami, where he studied political science, international finance and marketing.
His wife worked as a media planner at Leo Burnett in Chicago and said there was a job there as a government affairs associate that he might be interested in. After a year, they moved back to Miami, where he took a job at what is now Alma DDB, the national Hispanic agency for McDonald’s.
He says he rose through the ranks there but after five years became impatient. When the client got wind of his plans to move, he was offered a job at the burger chain. He started at McDonald’s as a brand manager. Then the job of director of Hispanic marketing opened up.
“They did a national search, and I guess they found the right guy five steps from where the guy that was doing the job before sat,” Mr. Marroquin says.
He spent three years in that position before getting restless again and moving to Batanga, which he describes as the largest online site dedicated to Latin music.
Mr. Marroquin had a passing acquaintance with Batanga’s CEO and had provided him with some names when the site was searching for a VP of marketing.
One day he asked about the search, and told the CEO, “I’m going to be jealous of whoever gets that job.” The CEO quickly asked Mr. Marroquin if he could interview for the post, and he was named chief marketing officer shortly thereafter.
His goal was to find a path to a position in which he could run something. Now he’s getting the chance with Mediabrands.
Most of his time away from the office is spent with his two sons, ages 6 and 8.
Mr. Marroquin says he also runs, and has recently gotten more serious about it.
“Six months ago I had never run more than three miles at once in my life. Five weeks ago, I did my first half-marathon here in Miami,” and he plans to run another one.
Why the increase?
“Someone told me I couldn’t do that,” he says. “I have this innate want to prove people wrong.”
Who knew?
Mr. Marroquin was a cheerleader in college. He says before he became a cheerleader, he’d wanted to date one; she took a look at his fire-hydrant build and suggested he’d be a good cheerleader himself. He never got the date, but he did to travel with Miami’s football team to bowl games and a national championship.


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