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Maria Lopez Twena is an award-winning marketer with over thirty years of experience who currently serves as chief marketing officer at Adsmovil, a leading minority-owned and certified mobile advertising and digital media company.
Widely recognized for her expertise in branding, positioning, and multicultural consumer segments, Twena’s accolades include receiving the 2009 ADCOLOR Award for her groundbreaking achievement in identifying, segmenting, and targeting bilingual/bicultural Hispanics while at McCann Worldgroup.
In addition to her current role as CMO, Maria Twena is the creator of a bilingual children’s book and original TV series: MariVi: the Master Navigator, which follows MariVi, a bilingual/bicultural heroine, and her family, the Abascals, as they adapt to life in the US. Inspired by her own life experiences, Maria launched this project in 2023. She firmly believes all children deserve to see themselves and their life experiences in media and literature to nourish their sense of validation and inclusion from an early age.
Hispanic Executive sat down with the inspiring CMO to tap her extensive expertise in technology, digital media, and branding and ask her a few quick questions about this ever-evolving marketing landscape.
Can you tell us about Latina audiences and how brands can better reach them?
We share some universal truths, even though we are all distinct. We may differ across countries of origin, generations, acculturation levels, and linguistic preferences (code-switching daily), but we all use our mobile devices throughout the day. Mobile is the best way to engage with us.
Also, we do have collectivist roots, even those of us who are bilingual/bicultural.
And finally, brands have permission to speak to us as we speak to each other. Brands should message the Spanish dominant in Spanish, and communicate with the bilingual cohort, bilingually. But language alone is not enough. Messaging needs to be culturally relevant. Imagery needs to resonate as much as the words. Cultural and linguistic cues go hand in hand to tell a consumer: You matter.
How will AI change digital advertising? And how can C-suite leaders prepare?
I think artificial intelligence (AI) will profoundly impact digital advertising and all things digital. We’ve seen the latter already (thank you, Siri). It will drive greater campaign predictability because it will optimize ad targeting as much as ad messaging and creativity, thanks to high-quality data. It will identify patterns, making investments safer and results more accurate. It will answer the why before we need to ask it.
For C-Suite leaders to prepare, demystifying AI at all levels of an organization, and positioning it as a competitive benefit and not something that will take over company jobs, is imperative. It is only then, that the company in its totality will be able to embrace and commit to employing it for gain.
What are three key traits for hiring a great CMO?
There are many traits needed for a CMO. Ideally, you want someone who is as much left-brained as they are right-brained; someone with a logical, rational, and analytical mind, but one who can also access a wellspring of creativity at a moment’s notice. This role is all about creating and connecting dots along the target’s path to purchase, to ensure that the brand moments are relevant and driving resonance, as well as spurring engagement, acquisition, or advocacy, depending on the KPI. This requires both a logical and a creative mind. And, as a third trait, they should a team player; someone who likes collaborating with others to achieve the goal, no matter what it takes.
You’re a busy executive with little time to spare, so we’re curious why you created a TV show?
Because as a child of immigrants who grew up in the Deep South in a non-Hispanic white neighborhood, it was hard for me to find a place at home and in society. You always felt like somewhat of an outsider, ni de aqui ni de alla, as the saying goes. I grew up with two cultures and two languages, but all I really wanted was one sense of community. In hindsight, that’s what all family members were seeking.
MariVi: the Master Navigator is a longitudinal book and TV series that follows MariVi and her family through life in the US, authentically depicting what it’s like to grow up in a country that’s not really your own, regardless of nativity. She’s the master navigator because, along with her siblings, she helps shepherd her Spanish-dominant relatives through life: translating, interpreting, demystifying, and informing. It’s a role that we play our whole lives.
Multicultural families will see themselves in these stories, and, hopefully, they will provide representation that we all need in the media, regardless of our age.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.