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George San Jose, chief operating officer of The San Jose Group, addresses Kellogg students and staff during a Nov. 16 Hispanic Business Student Association event.

Tuning in

San Jose brings clarity to multicultural marketing

By Aubrey Henretty

11/21/2006 - "I always say that money is the No. 1 international language of communication," said George San Jose, chief operating officer of The San Jose Group, a marketing communications consortium. "My dad taught me that."

San Jose, whose companies specialize in reaching Hispanic markets in the United States and Latin America, spoke at the Donald P. Jacobs Center on Nov. 16 in an event sponsored by the Kellogg Hispanic Business Student Association, a group whose mission includes increasing the Kellogg School's visibility within the Latino community. "The multicultural consumer is changing the landscape of the United States," said HBSA marketing chair Josie Ortega '07. "As future leaders, it is important for us to understand the business opportunities and implications this creates across industries."

San Jose described how his father helped him reach a similar conclusion less than a week after the family moved to New York from Mexico when San Jose was a boy. Though San Jose did not speak English, his father sent him to buy an antenna for the family television. When San Jose protested that he wouldn't be able to tell the shopkeepers what he wanted, his father replied, "Just show them the money and they'll understand."

The TV signal was strong in the San Jose household from that day forward.

Followed by a question-and-answer period with students, San Jose's presentation included a video mash-up of his organization's advertising campaigns and several mini case studies on successful campaigns.

Though he has kept his father's lesson about the communicative value of a dollar close at hand throughout his career, San Jose emphasized the importance of knowing one's audience in marketing and appreciating - even celebrating - cultural differences.

"We grew up with the mentality that everyone came over [to the United States] from Europe and assimilated." These days, said San Jose, the nation is less a melting pot than a salad bowl, its residents colorful and distinct. "We are all different, but we retain our identity," he added. "We are all different, but when we come together, we are better."