Paul Holmes 16 Apr 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Loquesea.com. It means “whatever” in Spanish. It appeals to 15-29 year olds who want a tattoo for their birthday and don’t even begin to make plans for the evening until most adults have gone to bed. But while this irreverent network of Internet sites for Spanish-and Portuguese-speaking youth prided itself on being a place that felt loose and real, it needed a buttoned-down PR campaign to help reach target audiences fast and cost-effectively. GrupoLink designed a branding campaign to attract both the eyeballs of tech-savvy Internet teens and the big wallets of Wall Street investors. Grupolink identified the perfect face for the company in Loquesea’s Chief Creative Officer. The blue-haired and nose-pierced Adriana Lozada, was a chic, down-to-earth authority on the youth market with the brains to get the attention of Wall Street’s deep pockets. We built a message platform as unconventional as our spokesperson and took no prisoners.
The media quickly responded to Loquesea’s unconventional mantra – “surprise me or don’t invade my space!” GrupoLink strategically placed Loquesea features in select business publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Global Finance.. It wasn’t long before all the buzz about Loquesea led to cover stories in Ad Age International’s April issue and Time International’s spotlight on the Latin American Internet. Profile stories on Adriana soon followed in the New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Adweek, Miami Herald, Denver Post, Industry Standard, BrandWeek, Hispanic Magazine and Financial Times, and by mid summer, Lozada was a regular conference circuit celebrity, keynoting various speaking engagements on niche marketing and e-entertainment.
In spite of market downturns, depleting venture capital and Internet layoffs, Loquesea’s year ended with a splash with profile segments on CNN Headline News, CNN en Español, NBC and Fox News. Loquesea’s business also remained strong generating additional financing and traffic. By year’s end, monthly unique visitors had skyrocketed from 100,000 users in March to over three million by November 2000. Loquesea was ranked the No. 1 vertical portal in Latin America in a study published by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and the Network of sites experienced a slue of interest for marketing partnerships and multinational advertising agreements.
Founded in 1999 with hopes of becoming the leading Internet youth network for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking 15-29 year olds worldwide, Loquesea found itself amidst a competitive landscape that included the then Wall Street darling Starmedia and pre-IPO hopefuls Terra, Yupi, El Sitio and Brazil’s UOL. Loquesea was outspent dramatically by the competition on all fronts, and facing disappointing traffic figures and little to no success securing advertisers, Loquesea needed to leverage category interest while distancing the network from the troubles other Latin dotcoms were facing. In order to keep costs down and segment messages more effectively, it was agreed that communications in Latin America and the US Hispanic market would be aimed at consumers, while US efforts targeted investors.
Culling from available secondary research from the likes of International Data Corporation (IDC), Jupiter Communications and Forrester Research, GrupoLink leveraged insightful factoids to lend credibility to the Loquesea story and create compelling “news” angles that would resonate with key media. On the consumer front, primary research such as online surveys and questionnaires were utilized to better understand the youth demographic and to identify and predict the trends that could later be sold to media.
In order to hit the ground running we began with a half-day strategy session where we identified the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and developed a footprint for the brand along with key messages. We knew the effort had to be very targeted if we were going to make any headway, quickly. We identified a targeted “hit list” of the key business and advertising publications that would deliver the most bang for Loquesea and proceeded to divide and conquer.
Position the network as the undisputed leader in the online Latin youth category and get them on the radar of the financial community
Generate interest among consumers to drive traffic
Attract advertisers to the network
The focus was on covering a lot of ground quickly and doing a few things right. Immediately GrupoLink forged ahead with:
- A variation of the “CEO as Brand” approach to position blue-haired, nose-pierced Chief Creative Officer and Founder Adriana Lozada as one of the foremost authorities on the Latin net
- A communications program that ramped up gradually from local to national to international in scope, and integrated media relations, stunts, trade shows and consumer promotions to make Loquesea top of mind among target audiences
- Highly targeted media outreach effort to reach top-tier business, Internet and advertising publications
- A suite of 21st Century communications tools to reach media effectively and timely across markets and time zones
Picking Deep Pockets and Getting Funky with Consumers - GrupoLink leveraged Adriana Lozada’s club kid appearance to generate interest and curiosity in the network and gain access to top-tier media. It was clear that her years of content and programming development coupled with her colorful “in-your-face” attitude had the makings of the next “Latin Queen of Pop Culture” and audiences started to take notice.
Adriana offered a fresh alternative to the stale suited-up men who were vying for media and investor attention and through a series of one-on-one interviews, press conferences, media round tables and strategic announcements Loquesea was soon featured on the covers of business sections across the country.
By keeping the face of the company limited to Adriana, GrupoLink was able to make her a strong public persona that became synonymous with the highly elusive youth market. Her prominence in top-tier publications, combined with her strategic placement on billboards in major Hispanic markets, gave her “star power” at industry conferences and tradeshows, as well as made her a regular in category trend stories and industry round-ups.
A series of publicity stunts ranging from a mock presidential candidate in Mexico and a consumer contest in Spain that urged youth to describe “what semen tastes like” helped garner widespread attention and drive traffic growth.
What started out as one more Latin dot-com was slowly gaining ground on the competition and was finally on Wall Street’s radar through a consistent presence in top-tier business and technology publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, CNNfn, MSNBC, The New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, The Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, The Financial Times, Red Herring, The Industry Standard and Time Magazine among others. Television coverage on CNN Headline News, CNN en Español and the New York affiliates of Fox News and NBC News also garnered attention from Wall Street.
The financial community responded and in March of 2000, Loquesea received an additional $13 million in funding from Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan and eQuest Partners.
In addition to helping Loquesea secure much needed venture capital, GrupoLink delivered on its promise to transform the irreverent Adriana Lozada and Loquesea name into the leading Internet authority on youth.
Traffic - According to research conducted by Alexa Research and published by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Loquesea is now the most visited Latin vertical portal. In just one year, registered users increased from less than 100,000 to 1,000,000; monthly page views increased from less than 1 million to 75,000,000; and unique monthly visitors increased from less than 100,000 to more than 3 million per month.
Media Placements and Impressions – GrupoLink generated more than 200 positive media placements for a total print and electronic impressions of 350,726,000 an estimated ad equivalency of $2,000,000 for an ROI (return on investment) of 10:1.
Advertisers – After being featured in Adweek and on the cover Advertising Age in March, interest grew among advertisers and Loquesea immediately began to attract multinational advertisers such as Microsoft, Frito Lay, Chrysler and The Coca-Cola Company, among others. The company also won the Gold Award at Advertising Age’s Latin American Effectiveness Advertising awards, beating out Internet veterans Yupi and Starmedia, and joining other gold winners Unilever’s Close-up, Absolute Vodka and Mercedes-Benz.
With a strong user base and solid leadership in its category, Loquesea is currently amidst negotiations for it’s third round of funding and expects to turn a profit in the fourth quarter of 2001. The GrupoLink/Loquesea partnership continues to be strong and is expanding to new markets.