HPRB: What was your childhood ambition?
AZARLOZA: To be a member of Congress or an Ambassador.
HPRB: Tell us about three people that you admire and why?
AZARLOZA:(1) My father who fought against the Castro regime and ended up a political prisoner for his beliefs, and then left everything behind in Cuba to give his family a better life; (2) Congressmen Buck McKeon (R-CA) whom I worked with more many years in Washington D.D. and who represents the values of public service and is truly dedicated to the public good; (3) the American soldier who sacrifices, more than I can imagine, to preserve and protect our freedoms, liberties and way of life.
HPRB: What is your favorite quote?
AZARLOZA:“Without strategy, change is only substitution -not evolution.” / Glenn Llopis, Chairman, Center for Hispanic Leadership
HPRB:Tell us about your educational background?
AZARLOZA:B.A. in Political Science from U.C.L.A.
HPRB:What is one of the best lessons your parents taught you about life?
AZARLOZA:Nothing in life is black and white, life is full of shades of gray, so you must learn to appreciate other people’s perspective and opinions.
HPRB: What is the most important business habit you have?
AZARLOZA:Talking with people regularly. It’s critical that you check in with your colleagues so that you are consistently aware of what’s going on in your business day to day. Emaisl and texts are fine, but there’s nothing like the personal connection of a face-to-face talk.
HPRB: What the best book you’ve recently read and why?
AZARLOZA:“Honeymoon with My Brother” by Franz Wisner. The story is heartfelt, inspirational and speaks to anyone that has gone through any major change in their life or fantasized about quitting the “race.”
HPRB: Besides your career, what are you really passionate about outside of work?
AZARLOZA:Politics, my children and sharing my “Hispanidad.” I don’t miss a political show on television, a soccer game or a dance recital or a chance to talk to someone about being Hispanic and growing up in our culture.
HPRB: How did you start your career in PR and where has that taken you?
AZARLOZA:I started out as part of First Lady Nancy Reagan’s advance team learning the ropes of political theater and communications. That led to an opportunity to manage a number of political campaigns and hone my strategic and communications skills. These things I learned from those two jobs have provided me the skills and learnings I use every day to be a successful communications professional.
HPRB: What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers?
AZARLOZA:Think Big. Never let your fears stop you from pursuing an opportunity, We grow as people and professionals by taking risks and striving to learn something new every day. We should make life-long learning a priority from the moment we begin our professional careers.
HPRB: What do you believe helps differentiate your agency and how big is your PR team?
AZARLOZA:We live and breathe our culture in a way that enriches our work and ability to communicate to our clients and audiences. We are culture advocates and bring that dimension to all our work. We are also risk-takers. We step outside our comfort zone regularly and provide our client with thinking that is both ambitious, strategic and most of all, culturally innovative.
HPRB: Describe the most effective Hispanic marketing campaign you’ve ever worked on and what made it special?
AZARLOZA:Several years ago, we tran a campaign for Absolut Vodka that won many awards, but most importantly built a category for Absolut among Hispanic consumers. Before we started, Absolut’s marketshare and awareness among Hispanic’s was low. After finishing, several years later, it was on par with the general market. We accomplished much by building unique and culturally relevant content, leveraging its distribution and integrating all communications across PR, advertising digital and promotions in a holistic way.
HPRB: Who are some of your agency’s top Hispanic/multicultural PR clients and what is the most exciting campaign your agency has worked on?
AZARLOZA:U.S. Army, Unilever, and General Motors. I would consider one of our most recent campaigns the most exciting – U.S. Army. For the last few years, we have been working closely with the U.S. Army to re-engineer their approach to community engagement. Together, we have moved away from sponsorship to partnership creating new, unique and sustaining engagements in the community. In addition to communicating the value of Army service, we have established working relationships with key community leaders and Army leadership to address the many challenged facing our community, such as education, health and leadership development. Today the Army is working hand-in-hand in the communities it serves like never before.
HPRB: What adjustments has your agency made to overcome some of the challenges of the current prolonged recession?
AZARLOZA:We have, of course, been mindful of the economic situation and been careful not to extend ourselves, but frankly, as a result of that financial discipline and the continued growth and expansion in the Hispanic market, we have grown over the last few years and are well-positioned for future expansion.
HPRB: What’s in the works at Axis for continued growth and expansion?
AZARLOZA:Digital, digital and digital. We have been talking about and activating digital programs for clients for several years now. We use a unique proposition, rooted in cultural insights, to drive innovation and lead the next phase of Hispanic digital development.
HPRB: What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliché you would love to see go away?
AZARLOZA: Translation! They never work. We must create campaigns holistically and with the culture always in mind. Cultural connections are the most important element of any winning campaign. A translation will give you one opportunity to speak to your audience, while a campaign grounded in culture will define your brand, elevate awareness and create invaluable dialogue with your consumer.
AGENCY NAME: The Axis Agency
ADDRESS: 8687 Melrose Avenue, 7th Floor, Los Angeles CA 90069
AGENCY PRINCIPALS: Armando Azarloza, Carmen Lawrence, Anita Gastelum, Wally Sabria
TOP 3 US HISPANIC PR CLIENTS: U.S. Army, Unilever, General Motors