Al Aguilar was presented with the national 2012 Hispanic Marketing Achievement Award at the 16th Annual Hispanic Marketing Midwest Conference in Minneapolis on July 19.
Aguilar, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of the Creative Civilization advertising agency, began his career in marketing at an early age when he became inspired by advertising legend David Ogilvy and his "Confessions of an Adman."
HispanicBusiness was able to catch up with Aguilar after he received the prestigious award, which recognizes leaders who advance the Hispanic marketing industry. Aguilar presented interesting insight into the industry, including a particular obstacle he and his peers continue to face.
"The biggest challenge continues to be in getting invited to participate in the strategic planning process from the beginning, versus being handed a general market campaign and being asked to simply translate it," Aguilar told HispanicBusiness. "We are not just 'Hispanic marketers' -- we are marketers who happen to be Hispanic. Our true value comes from the strong marketing intellect that we offer our clients."
Aguilar pursued his advertising education at the University of Texas at Austin, and embarked on a career that led him to become part of the first-ever Hispanic marketing department for Coca-Cola USA, and eventually a principal of Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates, the largest Hispanic advertising agency in the U.S.
In 2007, the American Marketing Association (AMA), San Antonio chapter, recognized him as one the first three inductees of the Godfathers of Hispanic Marketing. He is a founding member of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA), where he led the successful "VOTO" outreach campaign in building Latino voter registration and participation in the U.S. Aguilar also served as the founding chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' (AAAA's) Hispanic Committee.
Aguilar offers some straight advice to marketers targeting U.S. Hispanic consumers. "All marketers should understand the value contribution the Hispanic market represents to their sales goals. It is always underestimated and undervalued. The unfortunate reality is that Hispanic advertising receives less than 1 percent of total ad spending," he says. "In many categories, the Hispanic market over-indexes consumption versus the general population. Advertisers who invest 5 percent of total sales to marketing should apply the same formula to their Hispanic marketing budget."
Hispanics and Social Media
It's been reported on many occassions that U.S. Hispanics are "liking," "following," "retweeting" and blogging at a pace on par with that of other cultures, if not more frequently. In fact, Aguilar points to a recent uSamp study that said 90 percent of Hispanics are likely to be on Facebook.
"When you imagine the reach of a group that large, it is incredible to think of the influence and impact they have on the consumer market today," he said. "We must continue to be active in this realm, to educate ourselves on new technology, and to follow patterns of where and how varying demographics utilize social media each and every day."
He also points out that social media has changed the way marketers must think about connecting with consumers.
"Contributing factors such as peer sharing, social change, anonymity and accountability have taken new form and multiplied over the past decade as social media has progressed from a phenomenon to a powerful, lasting reality," he said. "The critical element to remember is that social media isn't stagnant; what we find today may be different in six to eight months."
Related: Marketing to US Hispanics -- Social, Demographic, Economic and Cultural Intricacies
A Marketing Guru
During the awards presentation, co-workers from Creative Civilization played a video in honor of Aguilar and his portfolio of work. Included in the video were comments from former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisnero and current San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
One of Aguilar's career highlights is becoming the first Hispanic-owned and operated agency to lead total market responsibilities for an NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs. The Texas team honored him by giving him 2005 and 2007 NBA World Championship rings. Aguilar also held a position at the first-ever Hispanic marketing department for Coca-Cola USA and was the first recipient of the Advertising Executive of the Year award by HispanicAd.com.
When asked what his proudest achievements are, Aguilar zones in on two.
"Bringing a vision to life at Creative Civilization of mainstreaming and evolving Hispanic marketing into total market responsibilities," he says. "While general market agencies have seized Hispanic marketing budgets and responsibilities, we have countered with our own strategy and product offering.
"Creative Civilization is a new breed of agency, uniquely qualified in the Hispanic market, general market and business-to-business market," he continues. "I'm also proud of being a part of a team that pioneered Hispanic marketing during its emergence in the 1980s and 1990s at the former Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates."
Through his years of experience in the marketing industry, Aguilar has found that there are misconceptions regarding the U.S. Hispanic community. For one, the misconception that Hispanics are resisting acculturation into the American mainstream.
"The fact is, Hispanics want to enjoy the best of both worlds," he said. "English language and Spanish language. Hispanic culture and American culture. Tacos and hot dogs. Soccer and basketball. And on and on. The American mainstream is being redefined by Hispanic influence. The acculturation process works both ways."
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