Strategic Thinking

Tower went on to win reelection with 37 percent of Texas’ Hispanic vote – a full seven percentage points more than his campaign goal.  No Texas Republican had ever gotten more than 8 percent.

And Ed Yardang won a reputation as the go-to firm for reaching an under-served consumer group.  Sosa had seen firsthand the vast potential in marketing to Hispanics. And, he had gained access to some rarified political circles in the bargain.

When his partners at Ed Yardang balked at remaking the firm as a Hispanic-focused agency, Sosa struck out on his own, initially setting up shop in the same building.

His decision was based on an instinctive grasp of Hispanics’ growing clout as consumers and voters, and an acute analysis of his former firm’s growth aspects. At the time of his departure, Ed Yardang was servicing regional and local accounts worth some $50,000 to $100,000 each – a model predicated on ever-greater volumes of new business to sustain growth and profitability.

Sosa & Associates managed to land several impressive accounts early on, including Westinghouse, Canadian Club and the Universal Pictures Hispanic-themed film Zoot Suit. But Sosa was determined to make inroads into the upper reaches of the Fortune 500, where the most lucrative accounts were to be found.

The nascent Hispanic advertising industry at the time was dominated by a handful of large firms such as New York’s Cuban-owned Conill, which had created advertising for the likes of McDonald’s for years.

Sosa had an unexpected ally in Senator Tower, who was grateful for the ad man’s contributions to his winning reelection campaign. “He called and asked what he could do for me. At first I declined his help, but ultimately I admitted that I could use more business,” recalled Sosa.

Tower persuaded a reporter he knew at The Wall Street Journal to write a feature on Sosa & Associates. The impact of that story was swift and far-reaching, with Sosa’s agency claiming three major new accounts: Coke, Coors and Bacardi.

“Our agency took off. Ernest Bromley and Al Aguilar became partners, and their names were added to the door. We went from $1.5 million in annual billings to $14 million in a matter of six months,” he said.

Winning a blue-chip clientele was only half the battle. Sosa would have to differentiate his firm from the better-established agencies that had dominated Hispanic advertising in the United States to that point. And this is where he would make a lasting mark.

Before Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates, ad campaigns geared toward U.S. Hispanics were short on branding substance and long on entertainment and Latin cultural kitsch like dancing girls.

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