Association Presents First Latin American Seminar

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MIAMI -- The Electronic Retailing Association's spring meeting opened here Sunday with 1its first full-day Latin American seminar sponsored by the association's Latin American Council.

Jeff Giordano, chairman of the ERA board, told attendees that the spring meeting is the largest midyear conference in the group's 11-year history, with more than 400 attendees.

The corridors of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel were flooded with languages representing 110 international members from 21 countries, including Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Venezuela.

Attendees and speakers focused on issues such as the lack of consumer confidence in direct response media in the United States and abroad; the ERA's strides in industry self-regulation; how to interact with and secure media placement in Latin American cable networks; and the changing Latin American direct response consumer demographic.

Panel members also discussed the obstacles to targeting Hispanic consumers in the United States.

"We can put together Mexico and Argentina, but not Mexico and Miami," said Tsvi Kornbluth, director of Venezuela DRTV company JEICA.

Product targeting Hispanics is coming out of Latin America instead of the United States, and most networks do not have cross-border distribution, said Stan Bruckheimer, president of PanLatinoTV, Laguna Hills, CA.

ERA members also turned the agenda toward strengthening and restructuring their organization.

"I would love to put together an international division, not just regional," said Kym Corrin, president/CEO of Interglobal International, based in the United Kingdom.

Giordano announced that the ERA formed a strategic planning committee Friday to determine the organization's direction.

While international membership is at an all-time high, Bruckheimer said the ERA has done a poor job of enunciating the group's benefits to international companies to increase membership. He added that on the other side of the equation, international distributors have shown a lack of effort in expressing what they want from the ERA.

Going forward, Kornbluth said, the ERA must educate Latin American members on how to use its benefits. He added that companies in Latin American nations, which are relatively new to the direct response arena as a result of growing economies, do not have the same know-how and trade experience as U.S. companies.

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