Contributing Reporter

With Spanish-language radio leading local ratings and Spanish-language KMEX Channel 34 broadcasting Southern California’s most-watched television news, ever-growing numbers of advertisers are buying air time on Spanish-language stations.

However, too few advertising dollars are flowing into Spanish-language print media, according to JSA Publishing Inc., which is working to capitalize on that situation.

“Too many advertisers assume Hispanics and immigrants can’t read,” said Marcelio Miyares Jr., president of JSA En Espanol, a division of the Santa Monica-based publisher and producer of two national Spanish-language magazines. “We have the data that say 80 percent of Latinos and immigrants are literate.”

Each month, JSA En Espanol goes to 1.2 million doors nationwide with copies of Hogarama and Mundo Deportivo, a homemaker magazine and sports magazine, respectively.

“What really sets the magazines apart … are their educational context,” said Miyares. “We’re not the only way to reach a lot of people in this market, but we reach them in an educational context that adds meaning to the communication.”

Miyares says the magazines aim to familiarize their readers with the differences between American consumerism and that of their homelands.

Hogarama, for example, shows readers which American products to use in preparing Mexican dishes, as well as how those products differ from the ones back home. In this way, Miyares said, immigrants can assimilate while holding on to their cultural identity.

The strategy appears to be paying off. JSA’s revenues in 1995 were $5.1 million, up from $524,000 in 1990, its first year in business. That’s a five-year growth rate of 835 percent, earning it a ranking in the Inc. 500. JSA has not announced its 1996 financial results.

Miyares noted that the magazines, unlike many other Spanish-language publications, include only content produced within the United States.

Ray Durazo of Durazo Communications Inc., a Los Angeles advertising consulting firm, agreed that educating new arrivals is a good way for advertisers to appeal to them.

Durazo said his company advises clients to include practical information about how to use products.

Ads for health products with which immigrants may not be familiar should include in-depth explanations of their uses and benefits. Bank ads should outline how to use financial products as basic as checking accounts, which only the upper class uses in Mexico, he said.

Leon Potasinski, media director of La Agencia de Orci & Associates, a Los Angeles-based agency specializing in advertising to the Latino market, said Hogarama and Mundo Deportivo are attractive because they offer direct mail advertisers opportunities to get involved in promotional events that JSA stages in local Hispanic communities.

Another attraction for advertisers seeking significant market penetration is that the publications are hung on the doorknobs of 1.2 million households each month in such large metro areas as Los Angeles (500,000 households), New York, Texas anywhere the U.S. Census Bureau spots a concentration of foreign-born Spanish speakers.

These companion publications constitute the nation’s largest Spanish-language print vehicle delivered to the market segment. And Miyares said the JSA publications’ delivery cost to advertisers is one-tenth of normal direct mail rates.

Until Hogarama and Mundo Deportivo, Potasinski said, advertisers were limited to buying space in publications with small print runs of only a few hundred thousand copies, hardly substantial considering Los Angeles alone has a Hispanic population of 6.4 million.

JSA Publishing was founded as a custom publisher in 1990 by Jeff Stern, who earlier had founded Details magazine in New York and sold it to Conde Nast Publications Inc.

He and Miyares created Hogarama because they saw no mass- circulation color print vehicle for Spanish speakers and had concluded that the segment’s direct mail business was “coming of age.” To better reach Spanish-speaking males, JSA introduced Mundo Deportivo in 1995 and began to deliver it in tandem with Hogarama.

JSA Publishing also puts out a monthly English-language hip-hop magazine called Rap Sheet and is planning more Spanish-language magazines.

That JSA can predict such growth has to do with the rising spending power of the Latino community. In the city of Los Angeles, Hispanics’ purchasing power went from $42 billion in 1994 to $48.5 billion in 1995 to $51.1 billion last year, according to Hispanic Business magazine.

In 1996, advertisers spent $124 million reaching L.A.-area Latinos through local television and $81 million on local radio while only $59.31 million was spent on local print, suggesting significant growth potential for print.

Miyares said he knows that many more print dollars are out there, and that it’s not difficult to convince skeptical advertisers that Latinos do read. One obstacle facing Miyares is that agencies often haven’t budgeted for print advertising, and JSA must keep after them to do so for the next year.

“It’s a boom period now (for Spanish-language advertising), but it’s been coming for a long time,” Durazo said. “There’s been a lot of effort over the last 10 years to convince advertisers that this market is worthwhile. And now the answer comes back ‘yes,’ it most certainly is, and I think it will continue to grow like this for a few years.”

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