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1. Your recent Rising Star award confirms that you made a good career choice. Was the transition difficult from commercial advertising to Political consulting?
Great question. The answer is both yes and no. First and foremost, I’ve always believed the saying: “If you wake up early, go to sleep late, and bust your butt in between, luck is going to find you.” So from that perspective, the commitment aspect was pretty much equal. In both advertising and political consulting you certainly don’t work regular hours, and at the end of the day it’s your passion for what you’re doing and commitment to your clients and your ideals that gets you through the late hours, early mornings, and weeks on the road.
The only frustrating part of the transition to the political consulting world versus the advertising world is political consulting world’s commitment to status quo, or doing what’s always been done. There’s a lot of “we’ve always done it this way, so we’ll continue to do it that way.” It’s warranted where it’s proven successful, but in others (situations or cases?) it inhibits innovation and has a negative impact on the industry. It’s part of the reason why so many of the political ads look, sound and feel the same. Regardless of my clients´ previous success, I’ve tried to change that incrementally to help them; to bring a new affordable level of production, and creative concepts and ways of messaging into politics. And I’m going to continue to try.
2. One of the most difficult current issues to address is the issue of immigration. Is it better for a politician to remain silent on the issue or to try to please everyone at the same time?
If you attempt to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. More than anything, people want authenticity from their leaders. They may not always agree
with them, but they respect people who are willing to stand up and defend what they believe. But I think that the problem is not immigration, but how the state of our current politics is disabling us from reacting to it in a way that provides a comprehensive solution. I do think the Dream Act’s passage in Maryland was an important first step, and I applaud the politicians who were willing to take the risk to pass what they knew was right.
3. Immigration reform seems unlikely to happen in the near future. But in order to win the Latino vote, both parties will have to say something. What kind of credible message can the Latino electorate expect from both parties?
I think politicians voting records on things like the dream act and comprehensive immigration reform are what they should pay attention to, not the pandering that comes around election time. It’s not only about what they say, but about what they do. I think the Latino electorate needs to be informed about their elected official’s positions on what is important to them, and make their voting decisions based on facts. Thus, it’s the responsibility of campaigns, candidates,
organizations and the community to highlight those.
Pollie Award Winner Spot
4. Speaking Spanish in ads or speeches is apparently no longer enough to win the Latino vote. What effective strategies should be used now?
I think ads from English-speaking consultants to the Latino population have a long way to go. There are little things, like having a voiceover that matches the predominant Hispanic demographic of the particular area that immediately determine the ad’s effectiveness. Also, assuming that all you have to do i
translate an ad from English to Spanish is a critical error. The English-speaking community and Spanish-speaking communities don’t necessarily respond to the same “style of messaging.” In the Latino population it’s important that the electorate “feel” your message. There’s a saying in Spanish “Hablar desde el corazón” and I think it’s absolutely true when presenting a political message to the Latino electorate.
5. You’ve won almost all of the major political consulting awards in the U.S. What are your next aspirations?
It’s great to receive recognition, especially when it’s from colleagues for whom I have great respect. But to tell you the truth I’m not really focused on awards, I’m focused on creating great campaigns that help change history and improve the lives of people both in the U.S. and around the world. I want to help the industry overall become a better, more creative, and more effective version of what it is today. Ideas are powerful and I want to be part of the ones that matter. In places where democracy is burgeoning, being part of the process that helps them self govern. If I had to tie it to a specific goal, I’d say helping elect the first Latino U.S. President, and helping the people of the world where democracy is in its infancy, define themselves.