Alex López Negrete and his namesake agency capture the unique Latino perspective
Alex López Negrete, along with his wife Cathy, started Lopez Negrete Communications in Houston in 1985. Braving the often harsh environment of the entrepreneur, the couple struck out on their own with only two clients on their roster – the Houston Rockets NBA team and Kickerillo Developments, a local builder/developer. In just a couple of years, the agency added two accounts that turned out to be key to their desire to focus on the Hispanic market – the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority and Fiesta Marts (the first Hispanic grocer in the U.S.).
A successful national expansion followed in 1992, with the addition of clients Simon Property Group and Warner Wellcome. After fierce competition, Lopez Negrete landed NationsBank as a client, as well as Goya Foods and Rent-A-Center, thus putting the agency squarely on the national map.
In 1994, Wal-Mart Stores invited Lopez Negrete to compete for the retailer’s account in a year-long, nationwide review of Hispanic agencies. Focusing on its “real-life/realpeople” approach and drawing on its strong Hispanic roots, the agency won the account, changing not only itself but the Hispanic marketing industry as a whole.
The agency has toured the country, talking to and filming hundreds of Wal-Mart associates and customers from all walks of life and all Latin countries of origin, and the results have put Wal-Mart in the hearts and minds of the Hispanic community. Wal-Mart itself has won a creative award for Lopez Negrete’s work on their behalf at the Retail Advertising Conference, organized by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a division of the National Retail Federation. Today, Wal-Mart stands alone at the pinnacle of retail choice for Hispanics. Not only was Wal-Mart recognized as the Mass Retailer of Choice in People en Español’s 2005 HOT Study, but a prominent survey also cited the company as Hispanics’ favorite store by 36 percent over the next three retailers, JC Penney, Sears, and Target – who tied for second place at 4 percent each.
The 1999 merger of Nations Bank and Bank of America served to widen the scope of Lopez Negrete’s work for the newly minted banking goliath, going far beyond advertising and community relations. With a combination of direct mail, direct response, point-of-sale, government relations, public relations, community relations, promotions, and product design, Lopez Negrete instrumented a meteoric rise in brand identification for Bank of America with Hispanics.
Lopez Negrete’s understanding of the heart, mind, and financial views of Hispanic culture led to phenomenal success for its Hispanic-targeted campaigns and world-wide recognition for the agency. Its work for Visa USA garnered Best of Show honors for the agency at the Houston Advertising Federation’s ADDY awards in 2004, as well as other regional and national awards.
In the ensuing years, Lopez Negrete has added other blue chip accounts, including Microsoft Corporation, Reliant Energy, Azteca Milling L.P. (MASECA brand), Sonic Drive-Ins, Tyson Foods, Domino’s Pizza, and Shell Oil USA. In January, the agency won another hard-earned victory when they acquired the account of pharmaceutical giant Novartis.