After deciding it wanted to target the affluent Hispanic market in South Florida six years ago, Merrill Lynch asked Pant'n/Beber Silverstein Public Relations to develop a program that would engage that demographic.
The agency came up with the idea of creating an art festival, called arteaméricas, featuring art exclusively from Latin America.
Understanding that the Hispanic community has strong ties to culture and heritage, the team felt a Latin American art exhibit was the best way to forge a connection. Making art the focal point made it easier for Merrill Lynch to reach a high-net-worth target. "People who fit into that category are attracted by upscale and high-quality events, especially those that cater to their heritage - such as art from Latin America," says Leslie Pant'n, president of Pant'n/Beber Silverstein. "One main goal was to reach the heart and soul of the Hispanic community in South Florida."
The PR approach has evolved into a fully integrated campaign featuring a series of dinners at galleries and museums, art lectures, a Young Collectors' Night to help young professionals get collections started, and a catalog launch at Merrill Lynch's New York offices. The events are supported by tactical partnerships with US Hispanic magazines and international magazines specializing in Latin American art.
The festival now draws 4,000 people to its opening-night gala, compared with 1,000 when it started, and has outgrown its original venue. The number of sponsors has also increased. Last year, print media impressions totaled 40 million with coverage in The Miami Herald, Vanidades, and People en Español.
Merrill Lynch and Pant'n/Beber Silverstein are currently planning this year's event.
PR team: Merrill Lynch (New York) and Pant'n/Beber Silverstein Public Relations (Miami)
Campaign: Merrill Lynch arteaméricas
Budget: Less than $300,000