In one sense, you could say that the story of Marisol Martinez is a classic New York story. Born in the Dominican Republic and learning English as her second language, Martinez was raised as the daughter of immigrant parents in Washington Heights on Manhattan’s far north side. She worked and paid her own way through her undergrad career at Manhattan College, where she earned a BS in marketing. Defying the categorizing statistics of Hispanic girls raised in low-income, underserved communities, she also raised her son as a single parent and walked the thin line of balancing traditional cultural values with independent career goals, later earning her MS in communications from Columbia University.
And for the past five years, Martinez has led key roles at Time Warner Cable, where she works as the corporate senior director of acquisition marketing. Hers is a career built on city smarts and marketing savvy, and while the story is one of steady growth, its phases are clear and defined.
Passion for Multicultural
“At first, I formed a background in agency-type business, managing the public relations and promotional programs for several book publishing companies and Columbia House,” says Martinez, of the beginning of her career out of the gate at Manhattan College in 1995. “This experience fueled my desire to advocate for the unique cultural needs of my community.”
After several years in the agency world where she focused on packaged goods brands produced by Procter & Gamble, she grew to understand the pivotal role agencies play in helping clients create insightful campaigns that aim to own a unique space in the consumer mind. “The most brilliant campaigns are created when both agency and client have a mutual understanding of the strategic vision of a brand,” Martinez explains. “This can only be achieved by establishing a two-way dialogue and allowing the agency a seat at the table from the inception of a project.”
Ready to transition to the corporate side, she moved to Verizon Communications in 2001. Verizon Communications was then a fairly new brand formed out of the $52 billion Bell Atlantic/GTE merger in 2000 at the dawn of the so-called mobile era. This allowed Martinez to hone her interests in the entertainment industry and sharpen her marketing skills, while managing a wide-range of acquisition, event marketing, retention, philanthropy, and brand-advertising programs aimed at increasing revenue and product penetration in the general and multicultural markets.
“After Verizon, I went back to packaged goods at Unilever from 2006 to 2008,” Martinez says. “My journey to eventually arrive at Time Warner Cable came at the right time in my career because my integrated marketing communications experience was then compiled into this amazing job I have now.”
For her first three years at Time Warner Cable, drawing on her past marketing and advertising agency experience, Martinez was likewise able to return to multicultural marketing where she was responsible for building a corporate marketing communications center of excellence.
“I’m passionate about multicultural marketing, and in this business, marketing thought leaders should have it as a foundation given the ethnic diversity of the US,” Martinez explains.
Up Close & Personal
What is your favorite place to visit, either on vacation or during your off time? Rome and Barcelona are two of my favorite vacation spots because of the culture, the relaxed lifestyle, and you can focus on yourself and your family life without the stress of the US.
What website do you visit the most? I always try to stay on top of entertainment and strategy, so I’m constantly on Time Warner Cable’s own social-media pages or follow Univision, to stay on top of what’s hot among Hispanic consumers.
Favorite TV show of all time, because we’re talking about Time Warner. I love comedy, and I usually gravitate towards that genre. I watch a lot of stand-up on Comedy Central, and I also really like the Office—it’s one of my favorite shows. Sex and the City is also one of my favorites. I like The Apprentice, too.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I didn’t discover my passion for marketing until I got to college, but because of the environment I grew up in, which was very entrepreneurial in spirit, I was inspired by mom’s creative ways to do more with less—she always found ways to help us get ahead.
“To succeed in the multicultural space, companies need to follow a top-down approach, where senior leadership is committed to the long-term strategic investment and growth of these segments,” Martinez says. “Time Warner Cable is vested in building a relevant infrastructure that meets the needs of multicultural consumers because this segment represents a significant subscriber base of the communities it serves.”
Martinez cites cross-functional accountability as the critical agent here, which serves to establish a marketing organization with multicultural expertise infused across various teams. “Having this type of structure at Time Warner Cable has allowed me to be successful in the programs I manage,” Martinez says.
Cater to Specific Values
Media companies have made a big leap by understanding that the Hispanic community needs to be approached in a different way, catering to specific cultural values, technological and financial behaviors, and media preferences. “Because Hispanics are avid TV viewers for content both in English and Spanish, Time Warner Cable aims to provide them with video packages that offer the content they feel passionate about—regardless of language,” Martinez says. As an example, Time Warner Cable’s recent launch of Time Warner Cable Deportes allows subscribers to watch original Spanish sports programming that profiles Hispanic sports players and personalities in addition to the broadcast of LA Lakers, LA Galaxy, and LA Sparks games
“We launched a program about two years ago that has served to fuel a lot of what we’re doing now,” Martinez says. “It involved an application for our movies-on-demand platform, which enables Time Warner Cable subscribers to watch movies (like Fast Five with reggaeton artist Don Omar) in both English and Spanish.
To promote this application and the Fast Five movie, Time Warner Cable—in characteristic celebrity-brand partnering—teamed with Don Omar to create a multimedia promotional effort involving a concert tour, prize giveaways, and social-media integration. This has led to Time Warner Cable’s evolution of social-media efforts, which involve its own “Mi Cultura” Facebook page, which delivers relevant content, TV show clips, movie trailers, and celebrity interviews in both Spanish and English to further engage its customers.
“What we’re doing is really unique because it positions our brand by highlighting the content and personalities our customers are most passionate about, which allows us to deliver on our ‘Enjoy Better’ brand promise,” Martinez says.