Ditech Taps Castells for Hispanic Advertising

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Ditech.com named Castells & Asociados Advertising, Los Angeles, as its Hispanic advertising agency almost a year after the shop pitched for the business at the sixth Marketing Forum held on a ship off the coast of Atlantic City, NJ.

At least two other agencies sought the account, whose billings were not disclosed. There was no incumbent since this is the first time the mortgage lender has appointed an agency specifically to target U.S. Hispanics.

"Ditech.com wanted to be sure to reach the Hispanic market in the right way," said Santiago Ogradon, executive vice president of Castells. "They'd conducted their own research in various ways, including using specialist research vendors. So they were ready for the services of an Hispanic advertising agency."

After agency founder Liz Castells-Heard presented to ditech.com at the May 7-10, 2003, Marketing Forum -- a Richmond Events show where suppliers pay to pitch invited marketing decision makers -- she got a call in December.

"As soon as the RFP was received, they went through it and called us for a follow-up Q&A at our offices," Ogradon said. "We prepared a presentation, and they had their own. It is rare for a potential client to do this, but they were serious about the market and about the relationship they wished to have with their Hispanic agency. We made it through that meeting, and within days they called us to present our thoughts on their business at a meeting with their top personnel."

The 6-year-old agency has clients such as McDonald's, Safeway/Vons/Dominick's, HealthNet, Mervyn's, Dole Packaged Foods, Adelphia, Time Warner Communications Los Angeles, Nevada Power Co., Knott's Berry Farm and various Comcast units. Capitalized billings total $55 million.

Ditech did not want to target Hispanics without adequate groundwork. The company has bilingual staff on the telephone, and major parts of the Web site are available in Spanish.

Castells is charged with strategic planning, conception and production of creative for TV, radio and outdoor, among other media. Ditech will rely on Inter/Media Advertising, Encino, CA, for planning and executing media buys.

Ditech.com, Costa Mesa, CA, is a direct mortgage lender and a unit of General Motors Corp.'s GMAC Mortgage Corp.

The Hispanic marketing effort starts with California, particularly Los Angeles. A series of TV ads, supported by other media, will share two themes. In the first, mascot Mr. Ditech, a straightforward chap, will address in different spots the number of products the company offers. In the other variant, the ads will show real-life situations that are depicted with some exaggeration. Mr. Ditech offers solutions.

These ads carry the message that ditech offers an easy, hassle-free mortgage process. Consumers can visit the site or call the toll-free number shown in every ad.

Such advertising aims to tap a rich vein. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics have driven 78 percent of the owner-occupied growth from 1990 to 2000 in the Los Angeles area. As of 2000, 42.6 percent of Hispanics in that metropolitan area were homeowners.

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