Before I delve into what I will most remember about Hispanicize 2013, let me start by saying thanks to the many sponsors, volunteers, staff and partners that truly deserve the credit for putting together last week’s unbelievable program. As the head organizer I often get too much credit for Hispanicize so believe me when I say that it truly took a village of dedicated, hard working people to organize an event that over five full days featured 102 sessions, 250+ speakers, a music festival, a film festival and AT LEAST 1,200 attendees (and counting!).
If the marketing, media and social media worlds are abuzz about us this week it’s because the fourth annual Hispanicize proved that the concept for a multi-industry Latino trendsetters event for marketers, journalists, bloggers, filmmakers and music artists is not only viable but highly desirable. The common thread these industry professionals share is more than just the U.S. Hispanic experience. It is the fact that the present digital age is causing these professionals to collide, collaborate and even create together in ways never before imagined.
As we look forward to an even more magical Hispanicize 2014 here are the key takeaways, highlights and priceless memories I will most remember about Hispanicize 2013:
A New Era for Hispanic Journalists
It may surprise you to see that I would put our Hispanic Journalist Showcase at the top of my event highlights but that’s because I believe Hispanicize 2013 will be remembered as an event that began to turn the tables for long embattled Latino journalists. In an age of layoffs, furloughs and other hurtful cutbacks for journalists Hispanicize brought together speakers and sessions that offered Hispanic journalists new hope and tangible ideas for monetizing their talents.
Three years ago we wouldn’t have done this but today there are so many Hispanic marketing dollars available for smart content creators like journalists turned bloggers / media entrepreneurs that its shortsighted for journalists to not tap into those possibilities. Post Hispanicize 2013 you can expect me to play a leading role in helping Hispanic journalists discover their inner entrepreneur. I believe they will play a crucial role in the next wave of Latino media entrepreneurs and bloggers.
Procter & Gamble and its Brands Stood Tallest in Every Way
Our presenting sponsor Procter & Gamble stood tallest this year among all brands and not just because of the obvious popularity of their creative “Have You Tried This Yet?” program, their special Tide White event, the Swiffer Abuelita challenge or even their cheeky bathroom takeovers with Charmin. Even though all of those activities were truly awesome what made P&G stand out the most was the fact that they partnered with us to donate more than $200,000 in P&G products to two Miami Hispanic charities, La Liga Contra el Cáncer and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
On the last day of Hispanicize, P&G did it again when they made the surprise announcement that they would match the scholarship fund donation of $5,000 that was made by Hispanicize digital and Latina Mom Bloggers towards the education fund for Louis Pagan’s young daughters. Now that’s what you call putting your money where your heart is.
Target Did What?!!!
If you saw what Target did at last year’s Hispanicize you had to wonder how they would set the bar even higher this year. Well, guess what? They did. Target not only reprised their awesome lounge hang out – complete with the famous wine cubes – but they also sponsored an opening reception that featured the debut of their new Sound Machine(™) by Monster headphones outdoor at the Eden Roc hotel pool with Emilio Estefan and a group of synchronized swimmers! Spinning the music was none other than Emilio’s own personal disc jockey, DJ Africa!
Music Scored a Gol!
Target’s grand musical reception aside, the first year of our Hispanicize Music Festival provided participants with a sneak peek at why most of our future expansion will be coming from supporting indie and emerging music artists. The intergalactic talents of Vanessa James and Katherine Johnson made our first year festival something to be proud of as we featured a Who’s Who of emerging Latin music artists that included Jesse & Joy, La Santa Cecilia, Domino Saints, Hola Hi, Sonsoles, Locos Por Juana, DJ El Dusty, Sons of Mariel (Diego Val), Sito Rocks, Wise the Gold Pen, Santaye, Solz5, Willy Chirino and Sensato.
Powered by our title music sponsor AT&T as well as Pandora, Coca-Cola and Chevy, our music festival held events at the gorgeous New World Center, Bongo’s Cuban Café and even the new Miami Marlins Stadium. In partnership with the LatinMixx DJ Collective this year we even featured five DJs, a collaboration with LatinMixx that will continue to evolve.
There were many music highlights but two particularly stick out. Having Jesse & Joy as the top headline act of this year’s event and seeing them perform the worldwide debut of their new Mexican soccer team anthem “Corazon de Campeon”. The other awesome music highlight of the ENTIRE program for me was something that we didn’t even have in the program. It was the Bucket List-worthy moment I got on opening day to sing “La Bamba” live on stage at The Stage with Mr. La Bamba himself actor Lou Diamond Philips. I still can’t believe I did that and that I have awesome video to show for it!
Most of the music and celebrity videos and photos are available for viewing in the special Hispanicize channel for Pandora so be sure to look up Hispanicize!
Hispanic Marketing Shined!
Our Hispanic marketing agenda, the most established part of our program since the event was originally founded as a marketing conference, once again shined with a brand-heavy agenda that I would say is only second to ANA. In session after session (and yes, we had 24 sessions devoted to Hispanic marketing this year EXCLUDING social media) Hispanic brand marketers and agencies spoke very strongly that digital marketing is now fully part of the fabric of all Hispanic marketing.
Hispanicize featured senior brand marketers and executives from Procter & Gamble, Bing, Maseca, Post Cereals, Target, Xbox, Pandora, Disney Parks, Google, YouTube McDonald’s, Clorox, Chase, General Motors, Universal Films, Transitions, Got Milk?, Hatuey Beer, AARP and more! I’ll spare you the even longer list of advertising and PR agencies that presented at the event this year but suffice to say Hispanicize is steadfast in being one of the premier platforms brand marketers have to showcase their Hispanic marketing best practices.
The Hispanicize Film Festival Evolves
Hispanicize devoted more resources to the film festival this year and the general outcome was a film festival that continues to evolve in terms of film screenings and film sessions at the event. The film highlight of the entire event was on opening night when we partnered with the Miami International Film Festival and Pantelion Films for a special pre-national launch screening that included Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Michael Olmos and more! This first ever collaboration with MIFF may become a model for all future opening nights of the Hispanicize Film Festival.
The red carpet itself was packed and it could be surmised that both Hispanic journalists and bloggers alike who saw the film – the only one that the late Jenni Rivera ever performed in – were deeply moved by the story. Filly Brown premieres nationwide today so here’s hoping that Hispanicize 2013 was able to give it a further lift because this film more than deserves it!
The best of show feature film award this year went to the Bryan Ramirez directed Mission Park, a movie that has only begun its film festival journey and that we predict will be the hottest movie with a Latino cast this year. I am personally impressed with the film not only for the quality of the production but also because I got to know the filmmakers personally and they strike me as the kind of people all Latinos should root for. The best of show $1,000 short film award went to Fernanda Rossi directed Clara Como El Agua.
One of this year’s film highlights was honoring red hot director Nicolás López with the Latinovator award by day and previewing his dark new earthquake drama Aftershock by night.
In many ways our film committee is perhaps the one that worked the hardest this year and while we have much room to improve, I feel that this team led by co-foundre Bel Hernandez and festival director Roman Morales made many strides. This year’s unbelievable team also featured my brother in arms Calixto Chinchilla of the New York International Latino Film Festival, Jaie Laplante of the Miami International Film Festival, Short Film festival curator Christine Davila, Ivette Rodriguez of American Entertainment Marketing, Hugo Perez of The Zocalo Group and Piedad Palacios. Etienne Hernandez-Medina of H+M Communications and filmmaker Adam Schlachter also deserve an honorary mention for stepping up to help when it mattered most. The prospects for 2014 look quite promising.
Coca-Cola’s Adelante Session Rocked it!
I wasn’t able to attend Coca-Cola’s special Wise Celebrity Latinas Edition with Rita Moreno and Charo but whatever happened in that packed ballroom of the Eden Roc hotel burst the fuses on Twitter that day WORLDWIDE, the same day of our mega #DisneyTime event. It seemed Rita and Charo shared some truly magical stories and insights because even some of the guys popping out of the ballroom left teary-eyed with smiles on their faces. My friend Rikki Rinkon told me he was particularly touched by Charo’s story because he used to underestimate her. After he heard her speak he found out that she had been very deliberate to control her image to get the hard earned – and sometimes controversial – opportunities she garnered. “Manny, that woman was absolutely brilliant,” he said. “All along she was the one who was playing Hollywood.”
Outside the ballroom, Coca-Cola kept the energy rolling high with impromptu dances at their exhibit areas. Bravo Coca-Cola!
#DisneyTime Hit it Out of the Park
Not to be outdone, Disney Parks cleverly ambushed the Latinovator lunch celebrating Beto Perez with a power packed show that had Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang dancing Zumba. At first Beto Perez didn’t know what hit him but in no time he took off his suit and he began to Zumba with the characters! It was a shot made for social media and TV! Sure enough the #DisneyTime moment not only went viral but it also got airplay on CNN en español internationally!
Sponsors Brought Their A-Game
This year’s sponsors really hit it out of the park in terms of creativity and engagement. From Radio Shack’s Karaoke competition to Transitions lens decked out photo booth, everyone seemed to put on a show that truly brought their “Vegas”-style exhibition. Perhaps no exhibitor made me gasp louder than when I first saw the 13-foot Transformers robot standing in front of me complete with two military-style body guards!
Radio Shack, Transitions lens, Clorox, ViSalus, you name it. Everybody came to Hispanicize 2013 with their A-game and our attendees really appreciated it.
Searching for Cesar Chavez
The American Latino Museum delivered what was easily one of the best programs of the entire event, a three-hour national live stream program titled “Searching for Cesar Chavez.” More than 10 of the nation’s brightest and most articulate thought leaders in the United States gathered to talk openly debate why Latinos still lack a single unifying leader a la Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr. or even Jesse Jackson. The talk was especially refreshing because for several hours pundits and political partisans put their party affiliations aside to talk about this topic as Latinos first. If you missed it, you’re in luck because we archived the entire session courtesy of Aurelia Flores of Powerful Latinas and our Livestream partner Steady Image. Here’s the link:http://new.livestream.com/accounts/3556448/hispanicize2013
Diversity Tech Leaders Summit
As many of you know, Hispanicize consistently gathers Latino and multicultural tech entrepreneurs so this year we decided to up the ante and together with Sprint launched the first annual Diversity Tech Leaders and Social Media Entrepreneurs Summit. The four hour program kicked off with a keynote by Batanga CEO Rafael Urbina, continued with a series of 10-minute talks by various social media entrepreneurs and culminated with a Shark Tank-style $1,000 competition that was judged by Andy Unanue , Managing Partner/Founder of AUA Private Equity, Jorge Consuegra of The Fearless Group and Michele Ruiz of Ruiz Strategies. This year’s winner? Lanugo, a new online children’s apparel and family products line. The full video for this four hour summit is available here: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/3556448/hispanacizediversityleaders
Annihilate the Crabs
One of my biggest pet peeves is how Latinos are prone to tear down successful Latinos. For the second year in a row we brought light to this culturally dark issue and I feel very sure that we’ve made legions of other Latino leaders aware of why the Crabs in the Bucket Syndrome must be consistently demonized. We still have claws to declaw in our communities but I feel certain that many of us are ready to see and call out the crabs among us. I care so much about this issue that we even recorded the “Annihilate the Crabs” opening session of the event. Watch it here and join the crab killing movement: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/3556448/events/2017484
No one truly understands the amount of work that goes on to produce an event like this so this section is about giving a shout out to everybody who in some large or small way contributed to our efforts this year.
At the top of my All Star Thank You list is my wife and partner Angela. No one sacrificed more of herself personally and professionally to support me in this crazy endeavor than Angela and for that I am deeply grateful to her.
Next on my list are my partners Katherine Johnson and Lexi Terrero. These gals are not only part owners of the Hispanicize event but they are also two of the most talented, hardworking women I know of in ANY industry. If you want to know how devoted they are consider that Lexi flew down from New York, SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT to once again commandeer the entire production of this year’s event. Yep, these gals are no pushovers!
Our sponsors deserve a huge thanks because they made everything everyone enjoyed about the event possible. In addition to P&G (and it’s brands Tide, Swiffer and Charmin), Target, AT&T and Coca-Cola Hispanicize wishes to give special thanks to Telemundo Media for being this year’s presenting media partner and to Chevy for being our automotive partner. In all more than 50 PAID sponsors participated in this year’s event and for that we are truly grateful. These sponsors include: Bing, Google, Bumble Bee Foods, Lowes, MundoFox, Sherwin-Williams, Ford, McDonald’s, The Clorox Company, Maseca, ViSalus, Fender, Sprint, Radio Shack, Transitions, Avocados of Mexico, UnitedHealthcare, NBC Latino, Yo Soy Segundo, PR Newswire, The Axis Agency, Collective Bias, ESPN Deportes, Regal Cinemas, The American Latino Museum, JeffreyGroup, NBCUniversal, Lanugo, Visit Orlando, Fox News Latino, AARP, Business Wire, ASK Media Productions, Steady Image, Sensis Agency, The Zocalo Group, El Sentinel, BajaLibros.com, The American Latino Museum, Marketwired, the Miami Marlins, the Greater Miami Conventions and Visitors Bureau and The St. Augustine Visitor’s Bureau. Media partners included Getty Images Hispanic, Media Moves, El Sentinel, Voxxi, the South Florida Social Media Club and Mamiverse.
Our marketing trade partners (HPRA, PRODU and Hispanic Market Weekly) did a particularly great job promoting the event but perhaps no marketing impact was felt stronger than the creative work produced by our lead advertising agency partner Accentmarketing. Accentmarketing helped elevate the event’s story and image in many ways that got people talking before, during and even now after the event. If you liked the creative look of the event, our teaser video or if you uttered the famous statement “the H is no longer silent”, it’s all because of Accentmarketing! Kudos on a job well done to Diana Ocasio, Lissette Hoyo and Rudy Leschhorn of Accentmarketing!
Our national advisory board this year was THE best one we’ve ever had. This year I also had the honor to have two co-chairs, Soledad O’Brien and Mike Valdes-Fauli. Soledad’s involvement helped elevate the credibility of our first year Hispanic Journalist Showcase while Mike, president of JeffreyGroup and co-chair for the SECOND year in a row, simply did an unreal job. Mike lead the event with his time, company resources, staff, ideas and example. Between Soledad and Mike it’s fair to say that next year’s co-chairs will have really big shoes to fill!
Among our board members I have already mentioned some who stood out but there were some who also shined brightest and those include Armando Azarloza of The Axis Agency, Jorge Ortega of Newlink Group, Gustavo Razzetti of Lapiz and Mari Santana of Disney Parks. When push came to shove, these board members were there for us. We don’t dare take people like this for granted.
Three of the best people we had the pleasure to work with this year literally dropped from heaven to help us with just one month to go until the event. Jarzain Cruz and Pam Arana, all our team can say about you guys is wow. You guys were two of the most outstanding, hard working and talented interns we’ve ever had. In just over a month you not only worked in perfect rhythm with us but you also became familia! The third person of our team was my longtime friend and marketing teammate Bill Gato of Gato Advertising. (Bill, you were instrumental to our team this year in so many ways. Gracias brother!).
No list of acknowledgement ever feels complete to me but these are some of the other people I know deserve our deepest gratitude: Veronica Villafañe of MediaMoves.com, Jewel Figueras of Jewel’s Fab Life, Sonia Diaz of Balsera Communications, Jorge Plasencia of Republica, Lissette Rodriguez of DeVries Public Relations, Lance Rios of Being Latino and DigiBunch, the Meeting Expectations team, the amazing DavElle PR team, Ingrid Vega our awesome volunteer coordinator, Amy James and the entire team over at the Eden Roc, Carole Munroe of Disney, Sabrina Anico of the New World Center, the owners of Bongo’s Cuban Café and The Stage, Robert Armband, Rikki Rincon, Anu Gunn musician extraordinaire , the PR and social media teams of JeffreyGroup and Newlink, Michael Viñales of El Sentinel, Joe Ramirez and Esther Novak, the team over at VPE Public Relations, PADRES Contra el Cancer, Rene Alegria and Lorraine Ladish, Chris Peña of NBC Latino, Francisco Cortes of Fox News Latino, Emilio Sanchez of Voxxi and Adrian Carrasquillo of NBC Latino.