Stepping down from her recent 18-month stint as the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) chairwoman, Gisela Girard, COO at Creative Civilization in San Antonio, reviewed with HispanicBusiness a multifaceted big picture of another year of recession and the potential for recovery.
Ms. Girard has more than 20 years of experience in the advertising and research marketing business. She co-founded Creative Civilization, a full-service advertising and public relations agency, with her partner, who also happens to be her husband, Al Aguilar.
Ms. Girard took some time away from her busy schedule and gave an overall positive outlook about the advertising industry.
"The ad agency industry is one which I am proud to be a part of. I am proud to have had the opportunity to work alongside many of the best marketers in the business as a board member of AHAA, and I am honored to have served as its chairman for the past 18 months," she said.
In her comments ahead, Ms. Girard talks about the challenges ad agencies face, in particular with regards to the recession and immigration.
She also touches upon the recent situation in which The Home Depot left its Hispanic-specialized agency for a general market agency.
Ms. Girard also offers an interesting perspective on advertising agencies and reviews how AHAA is an integral component of the industry's success.
What's the biggest challenge for ad agencies as a whole?
The biggest challenge for ad agencies currently is how to adapt to change. In 2008, at the onset of the economic slowdown and eventual downturn, advertisers began to examine overall marketing efforts in their attempt to address a slowing economy. By then, advertisers had already begun to implement different nontraditional forms of agency compensation, including value-based compensation and other creative "skin in the game" models.
These financial opportunities sounded intriguing, but the reality is that few advertisers actually agreed to such creative compensation models. It was quite a departure from the days of agency fees being based on media commissions or markups, and the optimal scenario of monthly retainer fees. It could have been revolutionary, but instead, it has simply eroded the agency compensation model.
How about those agencies marketing to the U.S. Hispanic market?
Their challenges are compounded by the fact general-market agencies are professing to being able to do Hispanic marketing.
One may ask, how? And the answer is quite simple. As general market agencies saw their budgets being reduced, they also saw how clients were paying attention to opportunities in the Hispanic marketplace. This is the challenge. In an effort to boost their value with the clients, they offer their clients the ability to do Hispanic marketing and media--free. Well, as the saying goes, "Nothing in life is free."
They are doing this at the expense of our largest and best Hispanic ad agencies, and this is where we need to draw the line. AHAA earlier this year publicly denounced the tactics of The Home Depot and Burger King, as well as others.
In regards to the ongoing recession, is the Hispanic advertising industry staying afloat, suffering, or coming up on top?
During the economic slowdown, it was the Hispanic consumer market that helped to sustain many categories of advertisers. Our Hispanic marketing industry across the country is on the minds of many advertisers, as it should be. The real question is what are they doing about it in proportion to general market budgets?
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