Cultural Relevance is Key: Jorge Plasencia, Republica Havas

by India Fizer , AdForum

Republica Havas
Full Service
Miami, United States
See Profile
 

Jorge Plasencia
Chairman/CEO Republica, LLC
 

We had the opportunity to sit down with Jorge Plasencia, CEO and co-founder of Miami-based Republica Havas, Havas’s lead multicultural agency partner in the United States, to chat about how advertising has culturally improved and the shift towards work that seeks to more meaningfully connect with the consumers.

 

Tell us about your role and how long you've been working in the world of advertising.

I’ve been working in advertising and communications since I was in high school, believe it or not. I started interning at a Miami radio station, and by my senior year, I was part-time promotions manager. I later became the first Hispanic marketing director for the Florida Marlins baseball team. During my tenure, the Marlins won their first World Series, and we won the Hispanic Marketer of the Year Award for our efforts targeting this growing fan base. I then became vice president of entertainment and music conglomerate, Estefan Enterprises, working directly with Gloria Estefan, Shakira and other major artists. Following that, I returned to media at Univision, where I had different roles including leading the radio network. In 2006, I teamed up with my business partner and our CCO, Luis Casamayor, and we launched Republica.

 

Are there some common staples or tropes that have developed in recent years within the industry? How do these compare to the ones of 10 or even 20 years ago?

When we founded Republica 15 years ago, multiculturalism was in its early stages. 2006 was also the year Twitter launched and Mark Zuckerberg took Facebook from college campuses to the public. We are a native digital, social, mobile agency. In those days, the options were limited and few had the knowledge or understanding to communicate authentically to underrepresented communities past basic translations in advertising. Today, authentic connections with consumers has become not only a priority, but an essential part of a brand’s success. And multiculturalism is a huge part of determining whether a brand is able to identify, engage and communicate effectively with today’s multifaceted audience. Multicultural marketing is about reimagining consumer segments and not relying on the traditional tropes of consumer targets. Brands and marketers need to prioritize educating themselves to be very specific and deep in their knowledge of the audiences they want to reach in culturally relevant ways.

 

What were some aspects or qualities about ads from the past that you feel modern advertising could benefit from adopting?

Modern advertising has the ability to tell stories that go deeper to build consumer loyalty, highlight brand responsibility and promote brand affinity. As culture increasingly influences brand identity, we’re seeing more ads that focus on telling a story instead of just selling a straightforward product or service. As advertisers and marketers, we have to put in more effort to meaningfully connect with consumers today.

 

Was the work approached differently or have the methods remained the same?

Advertising is more sophisticated and subtle today. The emphasis on selling a product to the masses has evolved. Brands can no longer count on captive audiences solely on TV or radio. Storytelling invites consumers to be a part of the brand experience as it’s a two-way conversation today with consumers.

 

How have ads evolved to keep up with technological and cultural advancements such as smartphones and the internet?

The internet gives us reams of data points about individual consumers, which enables better targeting and messaging. We’re in the age of serving ads and in today’s society, advertising is everywhere at all times.

 

Do you feel as though ageism is a problem in the advertising industry?

Everyone should be valued and represented in our industry. A truly effective organization comprises a diverse range of employees, and that includes the experience, knowledge and talent of older adults.

 

What advertisements do you remember seeing when you were younger that left an impression on you and why do you think they stayed with you?

At the risk of sounding cliché, Coca-Cola’s “Hilltop” campaign always really resonated for me. It brought a universal message of racial and ethnic harmony and hope, and that message still resonates today.

 

Looking to the future, where do you think the advertisement industry is heading?

We’ll definitely see far more multiculturality in mainstream advertising to reflect what society actually is. We’ll also see more purpose marketing as consumers, particularly young ones, want to support brands that support social causes. Advertising will become increasingly native and consumer-specific through technology-driven platforms such as VR and AR and using tools including AI. And then there’s the Metaverse. The fact that Nike is quietly preparing for “Nikeland” is validation that something very big is emerging. The next decade is going to be very fluid and dynamic, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us as an industry.