Exhausting and exhilarating. Those are the two words that best describe how it felt after the seventh and most illustrious edition of our annual Latino trends and newsmakers event. On the one hand, Hispanicize 2016 exceeded all our expectations drawing more than 2,600 attendees to Miami over five days while generating more than two billion combined media and social media impressions. But that’s not the biggest headline. After all the blood, sweat and tears that our team, staff and sponsors poured out to produce this year’s event the most important takeaway I have is this: Hispanicize’s most profound purpose is to unite Latinos.
2016 set the bar so high that some of you are telling us it’s going to be difficult to top this year’s Hispanicize. The good news is that we think we can do much better in 2017 because we’ve got plenty of room for improvement and not a few major tricks up our sleeves including major tweaks for Year Two of the DiMe Summit, the Diveristy Tech Summit and our maturing music festival. The journey to Hispanicize 2017 has already begun so mark your calendars now and get ready to make more history with us next year: Hispanicize 2017, April 3-7, Miami, FL at the JW MARRIOT MARQUIS
In hindsight it was almost prophetic for this to be the case because our #PowerInUnity theme matched the partnership focus that made the event so strong. For example, in February the Hispanicize event and DiMe Media teams formally merged to form the new Hispanicize Media Group. Symbolically this signaled the fact this would be the first time that all my partners would be deeply entrenched in executing the event and even though this may not be apparent, this internal unity became the crucial cornerstone of everything we accomplished at Hispanicize 2016. Speaking of partnerships, our unprecedented alliance with NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, Comcast, MSNBC and NBC News was also pivotal to our success. Through this partnership we were able to highlight the stories, issues and influencers that Hispanicize showcased. This alliance underscored why Hispanicize has become the place where major newsmakers gather and where significant decisions and announcements impacting U.S. Latinos take place. As part of our partnership, leading journalists, executives and personalities from the NBC Universal networks participated in important sessions and programs of the event, including the 2nd annual Tecla Awards, three major Latino public affairs town halls, the 3rd annual Positive Impact Awards and more.
On the eve of the event, Hispanicize also completed a major music and entertainment alliance with Spanish Broadcasting Systems (SBS) and its digital streaming and entertainment service LaMusica that was game-changing in its own right and that will lead to an exciting music future for the event. In 2016 the partnership consisted of SBS/LaMusica playing the partner role in the Latino Playlist Music Lounge that every day featured different indie artists. SBS/LaMusica also co-produced a super creative “Celebrity Karaoke” Closing Night Bash with us that featured Fanny Lu, Maffio, Fuego, Fat Joe, Chino y Nacho, Alex Sensation, Justin Quiles and other stars. The future of this alliance is bright and means a lot more F-U-N is coming to Hispanicize in 2017!
The 2016 version of the Hispanicize Music Lounge was the best one we’ve done yet with DJs, industry chats, an Artist on the Rise stage and even breakdance activations featuring Coca-Cola, SBS/La Musica and Monster Products.
On the cable side of media alliances our partnership with CNN en Español also provided the event with an ally that massively boosted the national and international visibility of the Positive Impact Awards (PIAs). CNNE provided terrific coverage for the Prudential Financial-sponsored PIAs and also participated at Hispanicize with talent such as Ismael Cala as the co-emcee of the prestigious awards and other personalities speaking in other important journalism sessions of the event.
Our three-year partnership with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) also evolved as we jointly launched the first ever national convention for Spanish-speaking journalists within Hispanicize and a first ever NAHJ Student Journalist Project. NAHJ’s leaders and its board are to be commended for the spirit of unity that guided this great collaboration. As the attention turns to the NAHJ’s own national convention, we will be there for them as well.
Our first year partnership with Geoscape also took off strong with the co-production of the “New Mainstream” marketing industry showcase that featured case studies, dynamic industry town halls and an unforgettable Gen Z live focus group that was as fun as it was informative. Kudos to Geoscape CEO Cesar Melgoza and Marketing Director Henry Brulay, both of whom were a pleasure to work with.
2016 also saw the creation of a three-way alliance between Hispanicize Media Group, BlackTech Week and the Latino Startup Alliance to launch the first ever Diversity Tech Summit. Amazingly the two-day summit was pulled off in one month and is itself an achievement because the line-up of speakers featured real U.S. Hispanic market industry investors, accomplished entrepreneurs like Monster Products CEO Noel Lee and a wonderful Shark Tank-style competition by Wells Fargo called “El Perfect Pitch”. (Special props to Facebook, who with very little notice, became a supporting sponsor of this first year summit).
This year’s sponsors took creativity and engagement ideas to new heights starting with Prudential Financial, our 2016 presenting sponsor and easily the new standard bearer for excellence in sponsoring Hispanicize. Prudential Financial’s passionate support for equipping and financially empowering our community was evident with event-wide activations that spanned the DiMe Summit, the Positive Impact Awards, the Latinovator Award lunch with anti-bullying champion Lizzie Velasquez, the Tecla Awards as well as a gorgeous digital lounge on the exhibit floor. Their participation even featured talks with renown DJ MC Lyte as well as welcome remarks from Prudential’s Vice Chairman Mark Grier, one of the most senior brand executives we’ve ever hosted. Prudential Financial’s hashtag, #PruPact, was the second most popular hashtag behind only the event’s main hashtag, #Hispz16 and I don’t think it hurt that they treated most event attendees to some really strategic swag: Prudential selfie sticks! Nice move, #PruPact!
Toyota refreshed their official automotive partner presence at Hispanicize with activations that celebrated the 50th anniversary of their flagship Toyota Corolla. I was one of the few people that didn’t physically see the gorgeous gold Corolla people kept riding but nothing kept me from checking out the artistic one that everyone drew on in the exhibit hall. Toyota also played a key role as the official presenting sponsor of the 2nd Annual Tecla Awards, arguably our most visible awards show because it spotlights the work of digital creators. Toyota’s commitment to multicultural content creators is possibly second to none and if you were at the Teclas you would appreciate the incredible work it took for Toyota, Telemundo, Hennessy VSOP, Prudential, Verizon Wireless and our team (Cristy, Katherine, Vanessa and Jessy, among others) to execute
One of the biggest risks we took this year, the launch of the first ever DiMe Summit, was a resounding success and a terrific launch to Hispanicize 2016. Held in South Beach’s chic SLS Hotel, the DiMe Summit hosted 200 multicultural digital influencers to an intimate gathering that featured more than a dozen advanced workshops, talks and trainings. Carnival Corporation even gave away a 7-day cruise for two. (Congrats Adriana Martin!). Planning is already underway to make Year Two even more dynamic!