BY MANNY RUIZ @MannyRuiz
Just a few days removed from the bedlam that was Hispanicize 2014, I’m still feeling exhausted and exhilarated by what took place last week in Miami.
If you’re counting, this year’s event drew more than 1,700 attendees from the industries of Hispanic and multicultural marketing, blogging, journalism, tech, music and film over five days, including our pre-event day of March 31. Did the event meet my expectations? No, it far exceeded them in ways that I can only classify as truly God blessed and supernatural.
How else to explain the spontaneous happiness that drew major celebrities, unbelievable media and social media coverage, trendsetting sponsorship activations and so many more things that truly made Hispanicize 2014 the new standard by which Hispanic industry events will get measured.
As I reflect on Hispanicize 2014, here’s what trended, what I will most remember and the companies and people that I most want to thank.
The 3M Positive Impact Awards
Based on the initial feedback I’ve seen, it seems the biggest highlight of Hispanicize 2014 were the 3M Positive Impact Awards.
Yes, City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado gave me the Keys to the City – a memory I will always treasure – but rest assured that’s not why I agree that this gala especially stood out. The Positive Impact Awards excelled because they shined the light on 20 Latinos from across the U.S. who truly embody the spirit of loving their neighbor and they gave us a chance to change the narrative about Hispanics. Through the PIAs we got a unique, high profile opportunity to show that Latinos aren’t here to take but to give and to bless others with our gifts.
Perhaps the biggest challenge we faced in creating this show was to keep it fresh, fun and fast paced. On that we hit it out of the park with two awesome co-emcees in NPR Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa and Univision Radio’s Enrique Santos as well as a supporting cast of presenters that included Edward James Olmos, Telemundo’s Diego Schoening, Estrella TV’s Myrka Dellanos, Clear Channel Mega 94.9’s Humber “El Gato” Rodriguez-Calderon and ‘Charytin and Felipe’s” Felipe Viel.
The award’s biggest moments also came by way of music with a great line-up that featured Sheila E., Sie7e, Suenalo as well as YouTube sensation Jorge Narvaez and his two young daughters Alexa and Eliana.
The most surprising part of the awards show is a toss-up between Olmos joining Sheila E. on stage on the bongo drums (who knew he could play like that?) and Sheila E. jumping into the crowd to sing, dance and do #selfie photos with everybody. (If you still haven’t heard Sheila E.’s first album in 12 years, “Icon”, it previewed at the event and is worth buying!).
After the show a lot of people asked me if the Keys to the City had any special powers. I lied to everyone and said it lets me into any office in Miami city hall but the truth is that it’s a powerful symbol that I’m truly humbled to have received in my own hometown, a very competitive space. The meaning of getting the keys to the city is that my hometown esteems me as a special citizen who can be trusted.
Target’s #MusicMeetsStyle Simply Rocked!
It’s no secret that Target is the event’s perennial trendsetter and this year they took things to another level. At their ultra cool #MusicMeetsStyle Lounge they featured daily wine happy hours, a microphone stage and live fashion mannequins showcasing their new Spring clothing line.
In terms of Target’s opening reception, the retailer’s #MusicMeetsStyle opening reception was stunning with a digital display that featured mega DJ Juan Magan, food, drinks, music, a runway and gorgeous models wearing Target’s Latina-friendly Spring fashion line. Everybody had a similar refrain: “Wow, did Target REALLY do that!?”
The Media and Social Media Voltage Was Off the Hook
Staying true to its mission as the nation’s most important launch pad for news, Hispanicize 2014 was able to count on terrific coverage from presenting media partner Telemundo, Vme, Tr3s, the Associated Press, BuzzFeed, EFE, Notimex, Fox News Latino, The Miami Herald Media Company and many others.
The Latino social media power of the event was – and is – obviously off the hook but this year we were especially proud to work with a number of key influencers who worked hard to keep us continuously trending.
Providing a huge social media lift to this year’s event was a cadre of major influencers that included: Gaby Natale of SuperLatina (@SuperLatinaShow); Jorge Narvaez of the YouTube sensation Reality Changers (@narvaezjorge); Rory Lassanske of Mama Contemporanea (@mcontemporanea); Lizza Monet Morales of XoxoLizza.com (@XoxoLizza); Tania Luviano of Latina Mom TV (@LatinaMomTV); Martin Llorens of Hola Martin (@HolaMartin); Jessica Alejandro of Jessica’s Fashion Notes (@joryckyt); Teresa Garza of ChecaLaMovie.net (@TeresaGarza); and Jose Sanchez of Piccolo Mondo (@PiccoloMondoPR), who also represented Puerto Rico bloggers.
Hispanicize 2014 was an Extra Busy Launch Pad
And speaking of making news, did you count how many things got announced at Hispanicize 2014?
This year the event became the national and international launch pad for new product rollouts, partnerships, alliances, studies, products and even a secret web site that will be used in Cuba.
Coca-Cola’s Reveals World Cup Program; Partners with Carlos Vives
Coca-Cola leveraged the event to introduce their U.S. Hispanic World Cup program in style with a high-energy, jam-packed special session that featured Univision’s Fernando Fiore and international super star Carlos Vives singing and dancing to Vives’ World Cup anthem “La Copa de Todos” in the U.S. for the first time. Even Coca-Cola’s Alba Adamo could not help but sing and dance to Vives, who easily became one of the most iconic stars of this year’s event both at the World Cup launch and later at his own Latinovator lunch with Un Nuevo Dia co-host Ana Maria Canseco.
Hispanic Journalists Study Released
In a major Hispanic journalism industry first, Hispanicize Wire united with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, California State University Fullerton and Florida International University to reveal the results of an unprecedented survey of Hispanic journalists regarding their careers, thoughts about media entrepreneurship and social media. The results showed that when it comes to the digital age and everything it represents, most Hispanic journalists are “cautiously optimistic.” See the full release here: http://bit.ly/1ktdiC
This year also marked the introduction of a new focus for our Hispanic Journalist Showcase as we presented a half-day bootcamp for Hispanic journalists that dove deep into the topic of media entrepreneurship. My co-presenters Gaby Natale of Super Latina TV, Jeannette Kaplun of Hispana Global, Kathy Cano-Murillo of Crafty Chica, Teresa Garza of ChecalaMovie.net, Hernan Guaracao of Al Dia Media and Juan Guillen of Latin Trends were simply outstanding.
Latina Bloggers Survey Unveiled
Speaking of industry firsts, the Latina Mom Bloggers network (www.LatinaMomBloggers.com) and Florida State University’s Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication made headlines of their own with a first ever survey of Latina bloggers. The survey was conducted to identify attitudes toward blogging as a business and opportunities currently influencing blogging as a profession among Latina bloggers. The results can be seen here: http://bit.ly/1izhdb1.
Google Offered a Surprising Sneak Peek at .Soy
In one of the event’s most unscripted moments, one major marketing session led to the unplanned disclosure that Google is launching a Hispanic-focused domain called .Soy. All I’ve got to say to Google is: Smart move! We like it!
Google played an especially vital role this year as we used their Google+ and YouTube platforms to live stream key parts of the event, courtesy of live stream sponsor 3M. Next week all of that content will go live on the YouTube page of the Hispanicize Event, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh-YvBBphpx2cMvSo9kYGmw.
Yoani Sanchez Wowed Us and Revealed a Secret
One of the most anticipated Latinovator lunches we’ve ever hosted was the one for a Latina who lives just 90 miles away: Cuban blogger/journalist/dissident Yoani Sanchez. Contrary to popular belief, Yoani was with us live and in person. Not one to waste a great opportunity, Yoani spoke candidly about the hardships Cuban free thinkers experience to express themselves and noted for the first time that she and a group of other independent journalists in the island will soon be launching Cuba’s first independent digital newspaper. In Cuba, she told the Vme sponsored lunch crowd, publishing requires novel ways to distribute content with tactics that include text messages, emails and digital memory devices. (Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/01/4033335/cuban-blogger-yoani-sanchez-says.html#storylink=cpy) As if to underscore the Cold War world she lives in, Yoani said she could not yet disclose the name of the publication.
Latino Startup Alliance’s Made a National Debut
Fresh off its debut as a national non-profit, the Latino Startup Alliance took its first decisive steps as an organization at Hispanicize 2014 with an enriching program of workshops and sessions that featured Latino tech entrepreneurs, angel investors and even the first annual Latino Startup of the Year competition.
This year’s tech entrepreneur program would not have been possible without the generous support of Strayer University, our official university partner and the sponsor of the national competition that was won by Interesante (www.Interesante.com). (A big congrats to the other finalists: New Force Media, Oye and Crowdismo).
Everywhere you went: #Selfie Action!
After watching Latinos engage in a frenzy of #selfie action at Hispanicize 2014, I was left with the impression that nothing in social media is more Latino than the invention of the #Selfie. Everywhere you turned to at #Hispz14, someone was snapping one.
I would also like to extend a special thank you to Start Up Angels and Paul Singh for teaming up with us to create a memorable pre-conference day gathering of investors and entrepreneurs that gave Miami its first real look at LSA’s promising potential.
TekBoom.com hit the ground running
Speaking of Latino tech, Hispanicize 2014 also marked the official debut of TekBoom.com, a joint venture that is partly owned by the Hispanicize companies in partnership with former EFE newswire editors Claudia Solis of Miami and Mary Andrade of San Francisco. TekBoom.com is a Spanish-language web site devoted to chronicling the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American tech trends, entrepreneur stories and investment moves.
Claudia and Mary will bring strong editorial clout to our company in both coasts of the country and in the coming weeks we hope to double that up with the appointment of a new full time editor for Hispanicize.com, which is still in beta but will relaunch soon. The part I’m personally most excited about for Claudia and Mary is that they will be under our mentorship as media entrepreneurs so I’m hopeful that the lessons in my upcoming book “The Journalist’s Guide to Media Entrepreneurship” will be part of a case study we can present at next year’s Hispanicize event.
Toyota Latino Made a Powerful Debut
Toyota made their first year at Hispanicize 2014 count in more ways than one and that’s a tribute to the leadership of Patricia Pineda, Group Vice President, Hispanic Business Strategy Group of Toyota Motor North America who along with Maria Hinojosa served as the co-chair of the event. Besides their huge presence in key sessions, on the huge exhibit space and even on the NASCAR-sponsored buses that featured their Latino race car drivers, Toyota made many things happen behind the scenes and even utilized the event to announce a new staregy they will use to engage Latinos.
McDonald’s Brought the McCafe!
As if their annual Blogger/Journalist Yacht Party wasn’t cool enough, McDonald’s this year came to Hispanicize with more tasty surprises. One of the most pleasant ones was their deployment of a McCafe with free coffee for everyone. McDonald’s McCafe was part of a massive coffee marketing offensive that is providing customers with free coffee during breakfast nationwide thru April 13. Here’s hoping they pour more McCafe goodness into next year’s event.
Cricket Wireless Unveils its New Logo
Fresh off its merger with AT&T-owned Aio Wireless, Cricket Wireless sponsored the Sheila E. Latinovator lunch and informally unveiled its brand’s new logo nationwide for the first time.
Coffee-mate and Sherwin-Williams Launched Initiatives
During our first annual Blogger/Journalist Pre-Treat with Coffee-mate and The Sherwin-Williams Company both sponsors showcased new offerings. Coffee-made used the pre-treat to give attendees their first taste of two new flavors never before tasted anywhere else: Abuelita Chocolate and Dulce de Leche!
Sherwin-Williams used the occasion to unveil a new initiative that will create stronger relations between Sherwin-Williams and bloggers who create content about home and design.
Unilever’s Vive Mejor Owned the Event’s Food Story
After a one year hiatus, Unilever returned to Hispanicize as the sponsor of the busy and much appreciated Unilever food lounge. Vive Mejor (which also represents a full line of beauty products) not only served as the event’s top food sponsor but they also provided tasty Latino-style breakfast every morning and hosted a comfortable suite that regularly included chef cooked goodies, warm food, juices and other treats.
Procter & Gamble Brought its Best
For the second year in a row Procter & Gamble came in as our presenting sponsor and exclusive beauty partner. P&G brought heavy firepower with a world dominating program that featured the event’s largest lounge, COVER GIRL beauty make-overs, a Mañanita Breakfast Workout, a drama skit during their Orgullosa Latinovator lunch for Maria Hinojosa and much more.
Gain powered Music with its #MusicaParaTuNariz
Speaking of P&G, one of the most visible parts of this year’s event was also related to them. Gain’s Artist on the Rise stage was arguably THE place to be every day at 4 p.m. during the Hispanicize 2014 happy hours that Target helped support with their popular wine cubes and other treats.
This year’s Artist on the Rise stage featured some of the best Latino-led music acts in the country: Magazine Society, Delpaxton, El Chevo, Renzo, Periko y Jessy Leon, Rigu and Danay Suarez.
At the special closing day Happy Hour, Gain concluded their week at Hispanicize 2014 with special extended performances by Los Rakas and GRAMMY winning group La Santa Cecilia. The #BestSmellingConcert was definitely the perfect way to end a strong week of music programming that in the evenings also featured concerts with Elastic Bond, Spam Allstars, Katherine Alexander and Raquel Sophia.
Music’s Role will Rise Even More in 2015
As we look towards Hispanicize 2015 I can assure you that we plan to continue to evolve its role at the event and we will work extra hard to help those music artists who perform with us find something they can’t get anywhere else.
Hispanic Marketing Shined!
The event’s Hispanic marketing agenda, arguably our biggest strength, was rock solid this year with sessions that tackled trends in the industries of marketing, social media, music, film and more. Top sessions dove deep into the Total Market Debate, The Empowerment of Latinas and Hispanic Millenials. In another industry first, Hispanicize 2014 became the first event of its kind to livestream AND record its entire program, the archives of which will be formally launched next week thanks to Hispanicize Wire and our partnership with Google/YouTube.
Among the brands who spoke at Hispanicize 2014 were Unilever, Coca-Cola, Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Toyota, Bing, Target, 3M, McDonald’s, Starbucks, The Sherwin-Williams Company, Dunkin Donuts, Transitions, Navarro and more! A Who’s Who of top Hispanic marketing agencies large and small also played leading roles in the event but this year we need to give special thanks to Burson Marsteller, who was our official social media agency partner as well as to Zubi Advertising, Sensis, República, Pinta, Boden PR, Hunter PR, VPE and the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA).
Hispanicize Film Showcase Excelled
Under the new leadership of film festival veteran Calixto Chinchilla, the third year truly proved to be the charm for our Hispanicize Film Showcase. All of our screenings were full or nearly at capacity thanks to Calixto’s leadership and the sponsorship support of our film showcase title sponsor AARP.
There were several poignant moments for film this year including a very emotional Q&A that we held with Cesar Chavez’s family during the special screening of ‘Chavez’. We’re proud of all the films and filmmakers who were featured at this year’s event. In addition to “Chavez”, this year’s films included: “Water and Power”, “Sleeping with The Fishes”, “Avenues”, “The House That Jack Built”, as well as six short films: “Missing Grandma,” “J-1”, “Tender Love”, “Reason Y I’m Single”, “ The Price We Pay” and “Stereotypically Me”.
Thanks to Calixto’s commitment to continue as our film director and the strong sponsorship support we were able to secure from Brown-Forman, MyLingo and Yo Soy Segundo, who sponsored the entire short film showcase, the foundation is now laid for an even bigger and better 2015 film showcase.
Putting this even together has taken a Herculean effort that far exceeds anything you can imagine. I get much more credit than I deserve but the truth be told, I’ve only been as good as the A-team starts that with my beloved wife Angela and my partners Lexi Terrero and Katherine Johnson. In the category of intergalactic awesome I must also classify my chief of staff and right hand Jay Cruz as well as Pam Arana, two young people who I have an immense amount of respect for. Also very worthy of recognition for working tirelessly behind the scenes is Vanessa James, who together with Katherine hustled hard to make music what it became this year, and Susana Baker of the Art Experience and Art Talk Radio. (Susana, you drive me crazy in a good way).
I would also like the thank Jesse and Ed Martinez and Deldep Medina, as well as the entire Latino Startup Alliance team.
Not even counting our 40-member advisory board it took more than 110 people to produce this year’s Hispanicize even including a great corps of volunteers led by Ingrid Vega. Volunteers, you are too many to mention here but please know that we are very grateful for your work.
Our sponsors deserve a standing ovation because they made everything everyone enjoyed about this year’s event possible. In addition to the sponsors already mentioned, Hispanicize wishes to give special to Brown-Forman who literally became our liquor sponsor with less than 72 hours until the event began!
The other sponsors who made this event possible include: Walt Disney World, Crest, Home Depot, Bing, Yonderbound, the Miami Herald Media Company, Cine Sony, Zyrtec, Burson-Marsteller, Transitions, Fox News Latino, NASDAQ’s GlobeNewswire, Vme TV, Creativas Group, MyLingo, Florida Blue, The Zocalo Group, Visit Philadelphia, Sensis Agency, Textter, Balsera Communications, El Sol Newspaper, Traffic Sports, Fox Audience Strategy, Pinta, Latinum Network, Center for American Progress, BodenPR, República, Thomas & LoCicero, Startup Angels, VPE Tradigital Communications, Hunter Public Relations and Moon Palace Resorts. Media partners include Being Latino, PRODU, NPR’S Latino USA, Latin Trends, Hispanic Market Weekly, Latin Heat, Media Moves, OVN Latino and iBlog Magazine.
In addition to our incredible co-chairs, I am also deeply grateful for the work of our 2014 advisory board.
Among our board members I have already mentioned some who stood out but there were some who also shined brightest and those include George “Urban Jibaro” Torres of Sofrito Media, Claudia Gioia of Burson-Marsteller, Griselle Colon of Marketing Concepts Group, Sonia Diaz of Balsera Communications, Pili Montilla and Annette Gonzalez-Malkin of Hunter PR. Gracias guys!
No list of acknowledgement ever feels complete but these are some of the other people that deserve our deepest gratitude: Inez Gonzalez and Dean Kazoleas of CSUF, Miami Mayor Regalado, Jorge Plasencia of República, Mike Valdes-Fauli of Pinta, Bill Gato of Hispanicize Wire, Veronica Villafañe of MediaMoves.com, Jewel Figueras of Jewel’s Fab Life, Angel Zayon of the City of Miami, Lissette Rodriguez of DeVries Public Relations, Lance Rios of Being Latino and DigiBunch, Brannon Usuna of Freeman, the Meeting Expectations team, the amazing DavElle PR team, Rikki Rincon, Anu Gunn, the PR and social media teams of Burson, República and BodenPR, Francisco Cortes of Fox News Latino, Nancy San Martin of The Miami Herald and Adrian Carrasquillo of BuzzFeed.