New Nonprofit Launches Multi-Million Dollar Cross Media Campaign

Mexicans and Mexican Americans have been hitting in the streets recently, and now a new well-funded nonprofit group hopes they’ll take their movement to the Web. Launching today, Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT) aims to provoke people on both sides of the border to discuss policy issues affecting Mexico and the United States.

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexico’s 1862 victory over a French invasion, MATT is unleashing an integrated multi-million dollar cross-media campaign, hoping to attract 1 million registered users to the site within the first week.

“We want to harness the energy and voice of Mexican Americans, and put that online so it can be bundled in a way that something can be done with it,” explained Brent Gilmore, who oversees Internet development and content strategy for MATT. The organization was originally designed to spur a dialogue between the U.S. and its southern neighbor, added Gilmore. “We really are twins joined at the Rio Grande.” MATT was created months before the recent uproar over illegal immigration, but it stands to benefit from the increased attention being paid to cross-border issues.

The bilingual site features interactive polls, forums, and an “idea generator” that allows registrants to submit policy ideas, rank those ideas and offer comments. The site will also stream the nonpartisan organization’s television spots. For now, the site will not solicit donations. “It needs to be provided in a way that people aren’t compelled to donate to keep it going,” noted Gilmore, who said the organization is being funded by a small group of benefactors who prefer to remain anonymous.

MATT will be running a variety of IAB standard sized Flash ads on sites targeting different segments of its audience. Ads aimed at English-speaking Hispanic and Mexican U.S. residents as well as U.S. residents of other ethnicities will run on AOL; international sections of;; The Wall Street Journal Online; Latino portal; local city newspaper sites in LA, Fresno, Houston, San Antonio, San Jose, Chicago and Phoenix; as well as on local ABC and NBC affiliate sites. Spanish-speakers in the U.S. will see ads on Latin streaming music site Batanga. Other Spanish-speakers will be reached through ads on Spanish-language portals and and Mexican newspaper site, El Universal. MATT is also buying Google and Yahoo Search Marketing keywords.

Although Gilmore would not reveal a specific number, he said the multi-pronged effort is costing “into the millions of dollars.”

In its initial marketing plans, MATT assumed its target audience would be 25-45-year-olds, people believed to be “more serious” and more concerned with legislative policies. However, after seeing the surge in interest in immigration issues among young people, as evinced by their participation in recent immigrant activist events, MATT decided to go after 18-35-year-olds through the Web.

“Given the ages of the people in these protests and how young they are I think it’s a very safe assumption that they’re online….They’re living online,” suggested Gilmore. According to eMarketer, the number of Hispanic Internet users in the U.S. will rise from 15.7 million in 2005 to 16.7 million this year, and 20.9 million in 2010.

One Web ad displays a male and female, each of Mexican decent, one born in Mexico and the other in the U.S. The copy reads, “We live in the same land. We share the same culture and the same values. It’s time to shape a better future.” Many of the Web and traditional ads feature both Hispanics and non-Hispanics.

Traditional components of this initial campaign phase, to run through July 4, are aimed at older, bicultural Mexican audiences with extended histories of living in the U.S., particularly communities in California, New York and Texas. TV spots will run on cable shows including CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” and nationally on Univision. Radio DJs, particularly those who have been influential in encouraging participation in recent immigration-related demonstrations, also will read live ads over the air.

Future additions to the group’s site will include editorial content, video and podcasts. MATT plans to extend its campaign to Mexico in its second phase, starting September 16, Mexican Independence Day.

“It will be interesting to illustrate how truly open the Internet is, and how it doesn’t have borders,” commented Gilmore.

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