Pharma's 'blind spot' for Spanish-language TV and Hispanic audiences needs attention: Univision exec

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Spanish-language TV network Univision says its viewers see way fewer pharma ads than general market viewers. (Alpha Stock Images)

Univision wants to know where the pharma companies are. The Spanish-language TV network has promoted its large Hispanic audience for years, but the population remains underrepresented in almost all pharma marketing media strategies, Univision's head of pharma sales says.

Jorge Daboub, executive VP, local media sales at Univision Communications pointed to a handful of current clients—such as Eli Lilly and its diabetes drug Trulicity, ViiV Healthcare’s HIV brand Dovato, and Amgen with bone drug Prolia and heart medicine Repatha—but noted that overall pharma spending is a "small fraction" of the amount spent on general market TV.

Why is that? That’s a question Daboub and Juliana Kim, VP, business development for pharma, have been thinking about for a while.

Spanish-language TV is a “bit of a blind spot” for pharma companies, Daboub said. Many companies do recognize statistics that say, for example, that Hispanic people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to all U.S. adults, and more likely to develop it at a younger age. However, when it comes to building media strategies to reach audiences, Univision “tends not to be part of the mix.”

One reason may be where pharma companies are generally located, he said.

Pharma marketers are more "isolated in the northeast in the areas where they’re mostly in. It’s very different when you live in LA or Miami or Dallas or Houston. When you live there, you feel the impact of Hispanic culture and you see it in the food, you hear it in the music or even the names of the streets," Daboub said.

In the U.S., Hispanic people make up 18% of the national population, but they account for much larger proportions in cities such as Los Angeles (50%), Miami (50%), San Antonio (68%) and New York (33%).

Univision isn’t giving up on pharma, though. The media company has laid out goals to inform and empower its Hispanic community members in healthcare in three areas—illness prevention, access to care including compliance, and early detection and management of chronic disease and risk factors.

Univision viewers are in fact “hungry” for health and pharma information, Daboub said, and many of them use Univision as their primary news source.

“Pharma companies think that they’re reaching this audience on English-language television, but Univision has an unduplicated and exclusive audience," Kim said, adding that "our stats say that 83% of our primetime viewers can’t be reached on any of the top 10 English-language networks.”

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