Francisco Garcia has brought multicultural marketing into the twenty-first century. Renowned as a programmatic marketing pioneer who helped establish the first wave of agency trading desks throughout Latin America and US multicultural markets, Garcia is now finding big success at Merkari Group, a digital marketing consultancy he cofounded in 2016 with Santiago Rossi, another programmatic trailblazer.
Merkari helps businesses of all sizes utilize the latest marketing technology. Within Merkari’s first year, the business landed one of the largest premium TV channels in Latin America as a client and some of the leading multicultural agencies in the US. It was also selected to be one of Google’s sales-certified marketing partners, a prestigious alliance bestowed on a small number of companies. As a sales-certified marketing partner, Merkari provides consulting services for businesses wanting to use the premium Google Marketing Platform.
Plenty of hard work, dedication, and passion preceded Garcia’s success at Merkari. Beginning with his research and sales internship at Telemundo, each step of his career has solidified his reputation as an expert in the marriage of technology and marketing. Right out of college, he was hired as a media associate at Starcom MediaVest Group, where he worked on brand strategy and activation for Procter & Gamble US Hispanic initiatives, as well as other major brands. By 2013, Garcia had landed as digital media director at Publicitas (now NewBase), which is where he developed one of the first multicultural trading desks for programmatic marketing—a management platform that streamlines programmatic ad buying.
“Digital advertising used to be a manual process, which was complex and time-consuming,” Garcia says. “DSPs connect you to all the outlets at once and allow for automation of digital marketing initiatives.”
Garcia was eventually hired on as director of platform solutions at MediaMath, a programmatic marketing technology firm. He led top-tier accounts with major brands such a Coca-Cola, Intel, American Airlines, Univision, and other Fortune 100 brands, helping them use marketing software to revolutionize the way they approached multicultural marketing strategies. Garcia’s work with Mediacom and Coca-Cola earned him a silver award for “Best Use of Programmatic” at the 2017 Festival of Media Awards.
He also spearheaded MediaMath’s New Marketing Institute Latin America expansion, an initiative designed to educate the next generation of marketers in the use of programmatic and marketing automation. He says, “Educating different professionals across the region and seeing them later step into marketing leadership roles has been a gratifying experience.”
Garcia and Rossi cofounded Merkari after identifying a need for a marketing model for the modern age, one that bridges the gap between consultancy and fully integrated digital services. The firm grew quickly, bolstered by a partnership with Google that began six months after Merkari was established. “We received that trust from Google because of our successful track record at MediaMath and the reputation that preceded us,” explains Garcia. “Google is the leader in advertising and technology, so receiving that vote of confidence proves that we have something special here.”
“Our vision is to span across the Americas and keep evolving with our clients’ needs as they request us to dive into ever more sophisticated integrations of marketing systems.”
Initially focusing solely on programmatic marketing, Merkari now also provides advanced analytics, cloud management, creative development, and integrated reporting. Merkari has become a strategic partner for both marketing agencies and direct clients. Through cutting-edge technology and top-notch client service, Garcia’s company has supported some of the most prominent agencies to ensure client satisfaction. These partnerships have included projects such as Telemundo’s World Cup, Copa America, and the Women’s World Cup. From Miami, the business has spread to Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Central America. “Our vision is to span across the Americas and keep evolving with our clients’ needs as they request us to dive into more sophisticated integrations of marketing systems,” Garcia says.
Garcia came to the US when he was fifteen years old, and today he calls his success a true American dream. “I’ve received amazing opportunities, including going to university with full academic scholarships and working with amazing companies throughout the country,” he says. “I’ve been very privileged. I’ve also worked hard—transplanting to different cities as I’ve moved up the ladder—and had incredible mentors throughout my career.”
To that end, Garcia values giving back to the community. Not only does he aim to incorporate a sense of social responsibility into Merkari’s mission, but he wants to provide opportunities for other budding Hispanic leaders. In January of 2019, Merkari again partnered with Google to start an education initiative at Florida International University’s Honors College and create a course titled Digital Media in the 21st Century. “We’re teaching advanced skills for leveraging all of Google’s marketing tools to execute marketing strategies and prepare these students for the workforce,” states Garcia, who is currently working toward his master’s in data science at Northwestern University. “Giving back this way is important because there is a huge need for talent in Miami.”
Another particularly fascinating way Merkari has recently served its community is through Bolivar Phil, a philharmonic orchestra of expert musicians from Latin America—mostly Venezuela—who migrated to the US for economic or political reasons. Merkari created the orchestra’s brand identity, established all of its media channels, and formulated and implemented a pro bono digital campaign to promote Bolivar Phil leading up to its debut in June. The ambitious initiative is reflective of the ways in which Garcia has led such a cutting-edge company like Merkari. And he hopes to find additional projects so that he and Merkari can do good on a global level.
“We’re looking for partnerships with additional universities, and ways to continue giving back to the Hispanic community—we’re all working together to create a better US,” he says.