Ford, NFL Stick with Hispanic-Aimed Campaigns Despite Modest Results

Ford Motor Co. has been attempting to get American Latinas behind the wheel for a test drive, while The National Football League wants to get their male counterparts to root for Tom Brady as much as Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo. But both companies admitted this week they have experienced a growing pain or two while looking to sink their brands into the consciousness of the emerging online Hispanic demographic.

“There is definitely a little bit of a leap of faith to it,” said David Rodriguez, multicultural marketing manager at Ford. “What was particularly encouraging about this whole process, though, was the amount of information…as it relates to the activeness of this demographic online.”

Along with Rodriquez, Alberto Ferrer, director of digital and direct marketing for The Vidal Partnership, which helps run the NFL’s Hispanic campaigns, presented two intriguingly different case studies during the Latin Vision Digital and Social Media Conference in New York City Wednesday.

First off, Ford sought to build brand awareness among 18-to-49-year-old Hispanic women, which is one of the fastest-growing demographics among new small business owners according to many research reports. In May, the carmaker partnered with AOL to launch a standalone Web site, dubbed “Tu Voz,” meaning “Your Voice.” Content on TuVozEnTuVida.com has been anchored by four well-known female Hispanic media personalities: medical expert Dr. Aliza Lifshitz, motivational speaker Maria Marin, self-help book author Mariela Dabbah, and actress Maria Ines.

They provide regular blog posts and videos, while supplying expert pieces on health, money, and lifestyle-related issues. The personalities have also regularly responded to comments from viewers on the site.

Tu Voz has been pushed with spots on ABC en Espanol radio (home of Maria Marin’s talk program), while print and online ads have run in People en Espanol, AOL Latino, and the flagship AOL site, among others. The team also utilized online promotional contests featuring prizes like a trip to New York for a one-on-one consultation with one of the site’s personalities, or an iPod Touch. A Facebook Fan page and a Twitter account were also launched.

In five months so far, online ads have received a varying click-through rate, from .3 percent up to 1.77 percent. More than half of the people who signed up for the contests opted in for future communications from Ford, said Olivia Maloney, a director for AOL Latino.

The two-brand site has shown steady progress in other areas as well, according to its proprietors. Since this was new territory for Ford, Maloney said, she and her team established baseline data to measure progress by looking at stats from similarly virgin AOL efforts of the past.

Based on those predetermined expectations, she said, unique viewers have bested the original goal by 16 percent, while the average time spent has beaten the baseline by 73 percent. The Web site’s Facebook fans have grown by 48 percent in September when compared to August, and the number of Twitter followers jumped 32 percent. Still, the numbers are relatively low; the campaign’s Facebook page has around 430 fans and the Twitter account has about 530 followers.

Meanwhile, the NFL’s test, which ran from January through March, involved a microsite, TuPasion.NFLatino.com (translating to YourPassion.NFLatino.com), spawned from NFLatino.com, the property it built with Univision three years ago. According to Ferrer, the test campaign ran during “Super Bowl season” to capture the attention of young Hispanic men when the NFL is highly publicized.

The campaign saw somewhat modest returns, seeing an average of 128,000 visitors and 28,000 uniques a month. A high point in the data: 91 percent of those who registered posted content.

Yet last year, more Hispanic-Americans watched the Super Bowl than the World Cup, and that particular fact has not been lost on the NFL. The media support accompanying the microsite last winter is in the works for this year around the Super Bowl.

“I think, in general, outside the NFL, there’s a misconception that Hispanics don’t like football, that they just like soccer,” Ferrer said. “But there’s the element of the ‘closet NFL fan’ in the Hispanic community that we are trying to help bring out, by letting him know it’s alright to show that you are a fan.”

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