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Damn the Quasars!

June 25, 2012

– By Henry Gómez | Director of Strategic Insights –

*This article was first published on*

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Iconosphere 2012 in Miami Beach a couple of weeks ago. Among the interesting breakout sessions was one entitled: Generational Quasars: Exploring the Boomer-Millennial Hot Spot. I was intrigued because one of our clients is doing a lot of exploration into Millennials. As it relates to Alma’s field of expertise, the Hispanic market, I think the topic is very complex because Hispanic Millennials are extremely heterogeneous but that’s not what piqued my interest about the breakout session.

The premise was that there is a marketing hot spot within these two generations, boomers mainly being the parents of Millennials. The speakers, Iconoculture’s Corinne Asturias and Nancy Robinson explained that, when combined, Baby Boomers and Millenials number more than 150 million in the US. Furthermore they explained a series of shared values between the two generations that marketers could potentially exploit.

What really struck me however, was what wasn’t mentioned during the presentation: the role of Gen Xers, those 54 million Americans sandwiched between their much-ballyhooed predecessors and their equally ballyhooed successors.  Maybe it’s because I was born right smack in the middle of Generation X (1969) but I felt slightly left out, and then my feelings morphed into (I’ll admit it) resentment. To add insult to injury, before the presentation even began the speakers asked the audience to raise their hands if they were Boomers, then Xers and then Millenials.  It looked like 2/3 of the audience were Xers like me.

So here we are, Generation X, in the prime of our careers and our lives as consumers and it’s our job to cater to the tastes of Boomers and Millennials.  The former won’t leave the stage and the latter are screaming, “look at me” (well, actually they are tweeting it).

I have to say that my feelings were validated when I recently saw the viral video of David McCullough Jr.’s commencement address to the graduates of Wellesley High School in Massachusetts:

You are not special. You are not exceptional.

 Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.

 Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…

But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.

Yes, that’s what I’m talking about!

Seriously, I wonder if marketers, in their desire to detect the next big thing, have neglected the thing that’s right under their noses. If there’s a common bond of values between Boomers and Millennials then it stands to reason that Xers have some different values.  And as I said, there’s 54 million Xers out there that aren’t living in their parents’ garage or sheltering their children in the garage.  Xers are the here and now.

At the end of his speech McCullough concludes:

The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.

Just one question: does “everyone include Xers like me?”

Henry –


Hispanic Boomers: A Missed Opportunity?

May 24, 2012

– By Angela Rodriguez | Director of Strategic Insights –

We at Alma, recently participated in an AARP/AAF Panel on Boomers and Millennials and it got us thinking, given all the attention lavished on younger segments across ethnicities, but especially among Hispanics given that they tend to be so much younger overall, are Hispanic Boomers being overlooked? And if so, what are the unique challenges facing a marketer who wants to target them?

Boomers are becoming increasingly attractive to marketers across many categories. They are a generation with many uniting traits including a sense of rebelliousness and the rejection of many “traditional” norms. They are redefining aging just as they redefined the moral framework of equality in this country with the civil rights movement that they championed in their youth.

As they enter retirement or in many cases semi-retirement, marketers have found that this cohort isn’t moving away from the consumption mentality that has shaped their lives. They are spending more than ever in many categories, from the obvious like healthcare and financial services, to the less obvious like toys for grandchildren and novel experiences.

But what about Hispanics, where do they fit into this evolving group? Sure, there are similarities like the need for more focused healthcare but there are many differences; especially in their worldview, what drives them and how they view their place in the world.

The defining ideals of Boomers are driven by a shared history, and that is one that Hispanics of the same age don’t share. They did not grow up in America in a time of increasing affluence, practically guaranteed jobs for all, and of youth participating in the social movement that Hispanics now benefit from.

During those same years they were growing up in countries where the economies and political systems were unstable and they were the original pioneers who came to America searching for more. More opportunity, more stability and a system they could believe in.  This alone, is reason enough for a nuanced approach when targeting Hispanic boomers as messaging celebrating the ideals of independence and counter-culturalism… or the idea of holding on to a sense of self that includes those ideals won’t resonate.

Marketers must also consider that Hispanics approach retirement differently. From the financial perspective, they count on their children to be there for them in a much more active way than non-Hispanics do… and their children deliver. Multi-generational families are the norm and seniors caring for grandchildren and contributing to the household to a degree are common.

But that’s not the only difference. Hispanic seniors don’t typically approach their golden years with the goal to reinvent themselves and try new things and face new goals. They want to enjoy the time they have with their family and loved ones and relax from their years of hard, and in many cases, physical work. They want to focus on staying healthy and active, but even there differences abound since Hispanics approach to healthcare isn’t about prevention but avoidance. In an interview, an older Hispanic gentleman summed the mindset up: “Why would I go to the doctor? He’d only find something and say I am sick.” So even in a category which seems universal, nuance again, is required.

These are only a few examples. But it seems clear to us, that there is plenty of room for a savvy marketer to speak to the approximately 7 Million Hispanic Boomers in a targeted and resonant way.

Angela –

– Footage shot at AARP headquarters in Washington, D.C. and simulcast to satellite locations in Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. –

Hispanicize 2012: The Experience

April 24, 2012

– By Silvina Jover-Cirillo | Social Media Community Manager –

I don’t think many people will be able to say that they have had the chance to see #HISPZ12 from every single angle: As a blogger, as a Social Media professional, as an agency correspondent, and as a volunteer. Although exhausting, it was a truly rewarding and well-rounded experience. If we add to the equation the fact that I wasn’t the only one from the agency around, tenemos cartón lleno.

So, where could Alma be found at #HISPZ12?

(Yes, we like to talk… a lot!)

As an Agency’s Correspondent –

At times, “divide and conquer” was our motto. When an event offers 5 simultaneous sessions, even if you want to absorb ALL this knowledge, you simply can’t clone yourself! Nevertheless, when the final stats show that your hashtag was among the “Most Popular” ones, you know your performance as a digital communicator was accomplished.

On the clients’ side, many of ours were sponsors and/or presenters. Clorox offered visitors a nice relaxing space in the exhibitors’ hall, and its announcement of “Red de Enfermeras Hispanas” was a true accomplishment. McDonald’s presented a session related to its excellent education endeavors and, best of all, took all VIP bloggers to a Yacht Party on Wednesday night. What’s not to love! Cricket encouraged attendees to “build the perfect music playlist for the VIP screening of ‘Scarface,’ which was so much fun. State Farm left its footprint during the conference by offering a “case study” session, as well as the participation of yours truly in a panel to talk about how we engage with fans in the State Farm Latino Facebook page.

Our CCO, Luis Miguel, had several good insights about our industry, which translated into great learnings:

  • Agencies have become more selective at the time of accepting projects, no matter how big or small they are.
  • Multicultural agencies are constantly evolving like the consumer.
  • Agency pitching system is almost like speed dating. (This should be kept as a classic, appearing to have been rather popular among “listeners.”)
  • Advertising is the mirror of society, so we should reflect the reality.

And topping it with the fact that:

  • Hispanics were the original social networkers.

As a Social Media Professional –

From a tablet (a Kindle Fire, in my case, and very proud of it!), phone (yes, an Android), computer (an Apple because that’s what I got at the office)… whichever device has an Internet connection is always good enough to connect. Even during lunchtime, people were looking down to their gadgets, typing like if there was no tomorrow. That’s what it’s all about, getting a relevant message out, learning and engaging! An added value was witnessing how Alma’s Social Media team comes together, and the numbers speak for themselves:

As a Blogger –

From Twitterland to Facebook, and everything in between, my alter ego is known as @LatinaComm. The feeling of meeting in person those people with whom you have been networking for months, in some cases even years, is simply priceless. The [virtual] urban legend of bloggers being their own impenetrable little club is completely false. The welcoming could have not been warmer. It was encouraging and even energizing knowing that people truly appreciate your message and they simply wanted to stop by and say hello; people wanted to put a tangible face to those Twitter handles and Facebook profiles. This fact supports the overly used argument that social media will never replace that face-to-face relation. No need to add here that ROR (Return On Relationship) is obviously the new ROI!

As a Volunteer –

Having served as a “Time-keeper” on a couple of sessions wasn’t a big deal –except for the fact that people can give you pretty mean looks every time you raise that “10 minutes left” banner-. Olimpia, our Communications Manager, was sitting from very early in the morning until the end of each day at the Media Check-In table. Hard but rewarding job, indeed (she got THIS close to Emilio Estefan!)

Overall, both the quality of the sessions and the organization were impressive, so kudos to the Hispanicize/Manny Ruiz team.

Any learnings you want to share with us? Feel free to leave us some comments!

See you at #HISPZ13!

Silvina –

Not An Ordinary Time

April 4, 2012

– By Olimpia Del Boccio | Communications Manager –

In 1997 I attended Se Habla Español, one of the first conferences dedicated exclusively to the U.S Hispanic market. It was there that I first remember witnessing the frustration of our industry leaders. There was a lot to be done and they knew it.

More than fifteen millions Latinos later (we were only 35 million in 2000) we are a grown up industry with bigger challenges, opportunities and risks than ever before.  But big challenges can be good news. That’s why I see April 2012 as the beginning of a very special period.

Starting April 10th the third edition of Hispanicize promises 4 days and 60+ sessions jam-packed with conversations about social media, marketing, entertainment and innovation, where marketers, brands, media, bloggers and even celebrities gather in one event right here in Miami.

At Alma we are very enthusiastic to be part of Hispanicize. Our very own Luis Miguel Messianu, President – CCO, will be debating in Reaching for Relevance: The Future of Multicultural Agencies (April 12 @3:10PM). It is sure to be one of the liveliest panels of the conference.

Additionally, Diego Yurkievich, SVP Executive Creative Director, will be a panelist in the Selling Breakthrough Latino Creative session (April 11 @ 12:45PM) discussing the challenges of selling great Hispanic ideas. Then, on April 12 @ 1:30 PM he, together with the Alma team and Kelly Thul, CPCU at State Farm, will share best practices in their case study Get to a Better State.

Last but not least Silvina Jover-Cirillo, Alma’s Community Manager for State Farm Latino will be evaluating how to keep a community engaged in Building La Comunidad: How to Successfully Manage Online Latino Communities for Your Brand. (April 13 @ 1:30PM)

But wait, hay más, on April 30th Miami also welcomes FIAP (Festival Iberoamericano de Publicidad) for the first time in 43 years.  We are excited to have the best creativity from Latin America right here in nuestra ciudad. The festival goes through May 2nd and there is a lot of anticipation about the conferences, awards and presentations including the FIAP Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring our partner and good friend Bob Scarpelli (DDB Worldwide) on Tuesday May 1st.

Y como si fuera poco and right when FIAP is concluding, the AHAA (Association of Hispanic Advertising Agency) and the Circulo Creativo Latino de Estados Unidos get together to celebrate the annual AHAA Listen Up conference which includes the first edition of the USH Ideas Awards.

The USH Ideas Awards is like un sueño coming true for Circulo members and creators whose primary vision from its foundation back in 1999 was to promote creative excellence among professionals working in this advertising market… buena suerte.

It seems like fifteen years ago we were only talking to ourselves, probably because we needed it. Today we are not only talking to others outside the segment, but most importantly the mainstream is talking more and more to us. Se volteó la tortilla.

Welcome to a not so ordinary time and follow us @AlmaAgency to keep the conversation going.

Olimpia –

Tuki-Tuki | Miami Film Festival

March 26, 2012

– By Danilo Lauria, Copywriter & Alex Ohannessian, Art Director

Tuki-Tuki es la expresión que hemos acuñado para connotar velocidad e inmediatez, genialidad expeditiva. Es una expresión que lo dice todo, cuando las palabras no alcanzan. Que describe lo excelente sin tener que entrar en detalles.
“Ponle colores más alegres y tuki…”
Así es el Miami Film Festival. Un maratón fílmico de 8 días durante el cual Miami respira genialidad.  Salas de cine llenas de público con las retinas sedientas de historias nuevas. Son tantos los adjetivos que podríamos usar para describir tal evento, que nos quedamos con el más descriptivo: Tuki-Tuki.
El concepto de ir a ver una película, se amplifica al poder conocer a los actores, los directores y/o los productores. Saber de primera mano cual es el verdadero significado de cada escena, que es lo que realmente querían transmitir. Discutir con ellos las escenas y saber de sus futuros proyectos.
¿Qué vimos?  Películas como “180 segundos” “Las Acacias”, “The Deep Blue Sea” o “Un cuento Chino”… Cada una con su propia magia, su propio tuki. Vimos de todo, desde películas de largas tomas llenas de vida real (“Las Acacias”, “The Deep Blue Sea”), que refrescan altamente nuestra noción de cine tipo Hollywood, hasta películas que retratan un pedacito de nuestra querida Latinoamérica, las relaciones entre amigos, familias, el fútbol, pero desde puntos de vistas mucho más novedosos (180 segundos) con una velocidad y frescura pocas veces vistas antes.
Conocimos a Terence Davies, hombre que refleja la pasión de un director que cuenta historias porque las vive como nadie. Su discurso inspirador nos hizo reflexionar acerca de nuestra profesión.
Personalmente fue especial poder hablar con Sebastián Borensztein,  director de “Un Cuento Chino”,  ya que ha pasado del lado creativo de una agencia de publicidad a dirigir un largometraje. (A más de uno de nosotros nos gustaría seguir sus pasos).
Esta ha sido una semana de película, en la que renovamos nuestro deseo de seguir haciendo grandes cosas, de ser cada vez más relevantes, de seguir creciendo. Una semana en la que vimos en 8 días como Latinoamérica avanza a pasos agigantados en el mundo de las comunicaciones, y es un orgullo poder acompañar y ser parte de ese progreso.
Tuki, Tuki.

Danilo y Alex –

Advertising: A Rookie’s Take

March 20, 2012

– By Liz Dikinson | Jr. Digital Project Manager –

Advertising has always been an interest of mine; more like a deep curiosity. At one point, my intrigue made me consider switching my major and making it a career choice. Never did I think that I would be lead to an opportunity to work in an ad agency! As anyone looking from the outside in, I wondered if it would be anything like “Mad Men” (which I am a huge fan of).

Turns out it is that…and more. At first the industry seems terribly intimidating. There are so many deadlines, so many logistics, and so many pieces that go into creating the message that our clients’ brands wish to voice. After months of observation and endless learning, I continue to be amazed by the things this industry has the power to do both for their clients’ benefit and for pop culture as a whole.

Advertising is the perfect blend of stunning creativity, deep-rooted human connections, and crisp analytics. Beyond that, with a little global cultural revolution called social networking, it turns out that unlike Mad Med, it’s no longer about talking at consumers but rather about communicating what a brand is about through surprise and engagement. Where before we would simply put a message out there hoping that it resonates with our audience, now we can very well (and very quickly) measure how much it does resonate by how willing they are to share it.

In the past months I’ve been impressed by many things, but none have mesmerized me like the case study from Droga5 New York where they brought clients Bing and Jay-Z together in a fantastic worldwide collaboration. The video really does say it all…

It is exciting to me that the world is linked through social connections and that digital creations of this magnitude are possible. The creative/ social/ digital/ everything envelope is being pushed in a big way, and this campaign is proof. Our job is to continue challenging ourselves to create work that is far beyond what we think is possible. That way, not only our work, but our audience, will speak on behalf of our brands.

Things are getting very interesting, and I’m ready to be a part of it all!

Liz –

Antonio’s Terruño

March 5, 2012

– By Michelle Headley | VP of Operations –

Last Friday I attended the presentation of Anta Banderas wines, as part of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. I went in expecting to taste a new Spanish wine and hear a typical celebrity endorsement pitch, but I walked away impressed by the true commitment to the brand demonstrated by the actor. He quickly confessed that the name Anta does not come from his mother Anita. In 2009, Antonio Banderas became a partner in the original company Anta Bodegas and the winery was renamed Anta Banderas.

Using celebrities as spokespersons is nothing new, of course, as is creating products that capitalize on the image of a celebrity (Donald Trump ties or Jennifer Lopez perfume.) But the latest trend has been naming a celebrity as a “creative director” of a brand, and it’s here where authenticity comes to play.

Does anybody really believe that Will.I.Am is helping computer scientists at Intel develop their latest chip, or that Lady Gaga can spearhead the rebirth of a troubled and outdated brand like Polaroid? What can Victoria Beckham bring to Land Rover, other than her ability to ride and own multiple ones? Justin Timberlake is credible as the creative force behind the William Rast clothing line, but who buys that he’s designing exotic metal-alloy heads for Callaway clubs?

Most of these “creative director” appointments are transparent PR efforts by these brands, eager to connect with a new generation of consumers. Since this is a more informed, cynical and hands-on interactive generation, a typical spokesperson or endorsement is seen as insufficient, so the celebrity is given an augmented role which is supposed to make us believe it went beyond cashing a paycheck.

Not Banderas. He was obviously very involved in his role in Anta Banderas, and approached it with humility and good humor. In an audience filled with foodies and wine aficionados, he didn’t try to pass himself for an expert. Instead he admitted he was little more than a wine drinker, but one with enormous passion for the art of wine making and of his love for his Spanish roots – his “tierra.”

In short, he made an authentic connection between his celebrity persona and the brand. During the closing Q&A several women asked if he remembered them, creating a blank uncomfortable stare on Antonio’s face. He obviously didn’t know them but he does recognize the art of wine making!

Michelle –