By Teresa Talerico
Ad firm Montemayor y Asociados has entered into a strategic partnership with Web-Hed Technologies Inc., a Web development and hosting firm also based in San Antonio.
"It's a joint venture," says Janie Martinez-Gonzalez, CEO and president of Web-Hed. "It's an opportunity to become a top multimedia powerhouse."
Both companies stand to gain – Montemayor from the younger firm's ease with all things online, Web-Hed from the older agency's traditional advertising and public relations expertise.
Carlos Montemayor founded Montemayor y Asociados in 1983. Today, it has annual billings of $38.8 million and is one of the largest independently owned Hispanic advertising agencies. Accounts include the DaimlerChrysler Corp., Continental Airlines, Taco Cabana, and Mary Kay Cosmetics.
The partnership, announced in March, enables Montemayor y Asociados to offer clients a wide range of Web-Hed's interactive services, including Web site design, Internet marketing, e-commerce solutions, digital press kits, and multimedia development.
"Obviously, more clients are looking at the Web as a vehicle for their messages," Mr. Montemayor says. "We had to either hire someone ourselves or form an alliance with someone who's already experienced. Some of our larger clients, like DaimlerChrysler, already have Web sites. The point is, what can we do to utilize this new medium?"
The answer was simple: Team up with Web-Hed. Founded five years ago by Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez and her husband, director of development Bill Gonzalez, the company specializes in Internet services – everything from Java programming to online promotions. Texas Monthly Biz magazine recently named Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez one of the state's "Multimedia Whizzes Under 30."
For Web-Hed, the partnership means a chance to link with a well-established and respected company. "This is an opportunity to work with not just a Hispanic firm, but a top Hispanic firm," says Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez.
She believes her clients need exceptional offline advertising – just as much as slick Web sites – to compete. "I believe both offline and online marketing are crucial to success. If they're done well, your chance of succeeding is that much greater."
Different from a merger, the partnership unites the two companies' resources yet allows them to operate as separate entities. Mr. Montemayor says they will work together on projects and refer clients to one another.
Both he and Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez say they are a tapping a crucial market in cyberspace. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that Hispanics in this country will number 41 million by 2010. Meanwhile, 50 percent of Hispanic households are currently online, according to Forrester Research. And Hispanic spending power is expected to rise to $276.1 billion (1997$) this year, according to HispanTelligence, the Research Division of Hispanic Business Inc.
Experts say it's imperative to reach these consumers via cyberspace. Hooking up with interactive companies is not uncommon for firms such as Montemayor.
"That is a smart move for many traditional media agencies – to form a strategic alliance with interactive agencies," says Horacio Gomes, a board member of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies and CEO/president of HeadQuarters Advertising Inc. in San Francisco.
"There's no doubt that interactive media is the new media of the 21st century," he says. "This will grow exponentially from here, and the Hispanic marketplace will be no exception. We're going through a media revolution brought on by the Internet. It compares to the introduction of television in its magnitude."
The Internet, Mr. Montemayor says, offers a chance to pioneer in a new medium.
"The book hasn't been written on Hispanic marketing as a whole, and especially on the Web," he says. "It's exciting because you're establishing the precedents as you go along."
Mr. Montemayor says partnering with a minority-owned firm made sense, given that almost 90 percent of his business involves the Hispanic market.
"We saw that as a winning combination," he says. "It can be more seamless than if you worked with someone who had no feel for the Hispanic market."
But they won't stop there.
"The Hispanic population has a lot of potential, has a lot of buying power," Ms. Martinez-Gonzalez says. "But we want to meet the needs of not only the Hispanic market, but the general market. The Web is global."
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