In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Campaign US is spotlighting Hispanic executives from across the industry. This interview with Gabrielle Martinez, co-founder and managing director of EA Collective, has been lightly edited.
Campaign US: What is it like to be a Latino/Hispanic in the advertising industry?
GABRIELLE MARTINEZ: Arduous but rewarding. With my eyes open to the lack of Latinos in my industry, I feel equal pressure to represent, lead and positively impact.
In the beginning, I naively thought it was all about assimilating. Only later did I realize the skills I acquired through my upbringing could help me reverse those tendencies and start to flex more into my natural style. Always up for a challenge, I embraced the opportunity to highlight my unique perspective and how it could differentiate my work from the conventional norms of marketing and ultimately deliver singular value to my approach.
My client portfolio spans a wide range of industries, each trying to connect with a different audience. Being a Latina has allowed me to pull from a larger toolbox of experiences that I can put to good use in crafting layered and relatable messaging tailored to these audiences.
How has the industry changed since you first started?
I started in the industry in 1999 and while it was always fast-paced and evolving, the degree of agility now required is much sharper. The volume of data we now have allows us to take bigger leaps in decision making and bigger pivots in campaigns.
The desire for human to human connection will always be there, but how we consume and how the market is influenced is vastly different. While we all have a newfound value for our time, the industry can only stay on top of it by driving accessibility to content and on demand availability.
How would you like to see brands honor Hispanic Heritage Month this year?
To do it right, brands must start internally to understand their relationship with Latinos. Work from a foundation of authenticity and deep empathy to cultivate messaging and voice, asking yourself how you are respecting and legitimately connecting with marginalized communities.
It's a big miss if brands don’t plan to leverage this relationship over the long term and ensure there is a holistic approach that includes action. Campaigns must be backed with cultural intelligence and built with adequate nuance. Spotlighting a range of Latino narratives from across the country can bring these initiatives to life.
Where has the advertising industry made progress with diversity and inclusion? What still needs to be done?
Our acceptance and normalization of flexible talent has moved progress in the right direction. This movement naturally allows for inclusivity of broader demographics that were once boxed out by tearing down age-old assumptions about how creatives need to work. I love how this can place higher value on those previously marginalized and lead them to advance.
We still need comprehensive mentorship opportunities at every level. Those pathways need to start in grade school and deepen into high school years to plant the seeds of possibility.
What is something you love about your culture?
The success I enjoy today can be attributed to the family values my culture has instilled in me: persistence, grit and grace under pressure.
I understood clearly from a young age that I would need to create my own opportunities to build a career, and it is because of the time I spent around my elders that I could actualize that perseverance to move forward and come out on top.
How would you like to see your culture represented in the industry and by brands?
Brands need to lose the outdated and monolithic profiles limiting their understanding of the Latino consumer power and focus more on intersectionality.
We need to hear more of the vast stories these communities can tell. Discovering the range of cultural conversations is a brand’s best chance of refreshing their understanding of these groups while also authenticating their relationship with Latinos.