MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Luis Fitch, founder of UNO Branding for the new majority, Minnesota's first and only Hispanic branding agency, will celebrate the firm's five year anniversary with an exhibit of its corporate and community pro bono communications work. The exhibit is cleverly entitled "Stereotype."
Fortune 500 clients and Hispanic organizations hire UNO to help them effectively serve the Hispanic market. Fitch was raised in Mexico and studied at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, so is able to provide first-hand insight to the special nuances required to successfully target Hispanic audiences. The U.S. Hispanic population now numbers approximately 39 million and is clearly the fastest growing U.S. market in both population and buying power. This cultural trend is prompting many corporations and organizations to begin exploring ways to reach the Hispanic market -- domestically and internationally.
Fitch will showcase several UNO corporate and cultural Hispanic marketing projects to illustrate effective Latino communications -- a colorful, vivid and expressive exhibit. It will be open every day, 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., from October 4-13, at the Mira Gallery in the Instituto de Cultura y Educacion (4137 Bloomington Ave. S.; Minneapolis, MN 55407). Mr. Fitch will host a special reception on Sunday, October 10, from 6:00 - 10:00 p.m., to allow patrons to meet with the UNO design team and discuss its approach to Hispanic communication assignments.
UNO's "Stereotype" exhibit will coincide with the opening of Cheech Marin's touring Chicano art exhibit in Minneapolis. Target commissioned UNO to create all branding communications for the Chicano exhibit two years ago (at the tour's inception). That work will be featured in the Stereotype exhibit.
UNO "Branding for the new majority" is an award-winning Hispanic agency based in Minneapolis. It is the only branding communication firm that specializes in helping Fortune 500 companies reach the Hispanic market. The firm provides a wide range of communication design services to a number of large corporate, governmental and nonprofit clients. It is certified as being minority owned and operated and its staff is bilingual and bicultural.
For more information or to obtain an image of the exhibit, contact Carolina Ornelas at 612.874.1920 ext. 2 or go to http://www.unoonline.com/ . UNO Branding for the new majority
Web site: http://www.unoonline.com/
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Plains Art Museum Presents
Day of the Dead Exhibition and Related Events
Fargo, ND – Plains Art Museum brings a full-size steamroller to its campus from 9 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 3 and Sunday, October 4. It will be driven over printing plates to create large prints in front of the Museum building. An exhibition of the work made called Day of the Dead: Latino Artists Create Steam Roller Prints opens October 8 in the Museum’s William and Anna Jane Schlossman Gallery and runs through January 3.
In collaboration with ArtOrg from Northfield, Minn., the work of Luis Fitch, Alexa Horochowski, Gustavo Lira, Doug Padilla, Maria Cristina Tavera and Xavier Tavera, all artists from Twin Cities Latino art collective Grupo Soap del Carazon, will be featured in the exhibition. The prints will be coupled with an ofrenda, an “alter-like” installation common in Day of the Dead tradition, made by artists Maria Cristina and Xavier Tavera.
Colleen Sheehy, the Museum’s director/CEO said, “This is a spectacular art-making event and exhibition you won’t want to miss. These artists have designed the print imagery based on Day of the Dead traditions. This annual Latino holiday is held in early November to honor the memories of people who have died, ranging from family and friends to public figures.”
Additional events in conjunction with the exhibition are:
· Youth Steamroller Printmaking events, 9 to Noon, Monday, October 5, at Red River Area Learning Center School, 1100 32nd Ave. S. Moorhead, Minn.; and 4 to 7 p.m. at Centro Cultural de Fargo-Moorhead, 1014 19th St. S. Moorhead.
· Day of the Dead Celebration Reception, Noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, November 7. The public is invited to observe Day of the Dead at the Museum with the unveiling of the ofrenda in the gallery; play loteria (Mexican bingo) with local artist Lana Suomala; listen to music by DJ Chris Molina of Suficiente Sound; and enjoy fiesta hors d’oeuvres and punch. The event is free.
· Fiesta de Mujeres (Celebration of Women), 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, November 14. This Fiesta observes the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Mujeres Unidas (Women United). It includes a buffet dinner, mariachi band, folk dancers and Latina Awards presentation by Mujeres Unidas. The Fiesta is co-presented by Mujeres Unidas and Plains Art Museum and costs $5 per adult and $3 per child.
The exhibition is sponsored locally by Open Magazine and American Crystal Sugar and co-sponsored by the Mexican Consulate in St. Paul, Minn., in observance of the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution.
Plains Art Museum is located at 704 First Avenue North. It is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a nonprofit, regional fine arts museum with plans to significantly expand its programs through its “Little artist in all of us” campaign. The campaign is raising funds for the Creativity Center for Lifelong Learning which includes the Fingerprints Interactive Education Gallery and working with Fargo Public Schools and other educational entities to build teaching studios. The campaign is also strengthening operations by enhancing the Museum’s endowment and visitor services. Museum programs are made possible, in part, by major funding from members of the Museum, The FUNd at Plains Art Museum, The McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, the North Dakota Council on the Arts through an appropriation by the North Dakota State Legislature and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. More information is available at 701.232.3821 or at www.plainsart.org.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
by Marisa Helms, Minnesota Public Radio
Listen to feature audio You've got to work a little to hear Spanish language radio in the Twin Cities. There's a smattering of programs on community stations. But, if you know where to look, there are now two 24-hour Spanish language stations going head to head for listeners.
Minneapolis, Minn. — One station has dominated Twin Cities Spanish language radio for the past quarter century.
"This is Radio Rey, La Ley, 63WDGY Hudson, St. Paul, Minneapolis," booms a recorded ID spot. "Radio Rey. It's La Ley."
Guadalupe Gonzalez La Ley. That means "the Law." The standard.
Radio Rey, or "Radio King," is the creation of Guadalupe Gonzalez. He came to Minneapolis from Mexico in the early 1970s to work in a die casting factory, but says he fell into radio.
"You know, America," he says. "Everybody's got a chance. This should always make dreams for everybody."
Today, many call Gonzalez a pioneer, the godfather of Minnesota's Spanish language radio. Wearing his trademark grey fedora, Gonzalez says it's easy to understand the station's success and longevity.
"The people like it. Not because it's real professional, but because it's been so many years," he says. "Twenty-seven years service (to)the people. We got real country songs, just simple things. We don't do nothing way high."
Radio Rey broadcasts from a small storefront on East Lake St. in Minneapolis. The door to the cramped studio is not soundproof. Gonzalez simply walks in while DJ "Nancy" is on air, fielding calls during a dance concert giveaway.
"This girl's really good," he whispers. "This is where we do a lot of talking and this and that. And tricks."
Gonzalez plays Mexican regional music nearly all the time on his AM station. It's the sentimental favorite of his listeners, 90 percent of whom are from across Mexico.
Gonzalez is dismissive of competition. He says other Spanish language radio stations have tried to make it in the Twin Cities, but fail because their radio signal is too weak and they can't get the advertising revenue.
But now there's a new AM radio station just a mile away down Lake St. It's got lots of energy, money, and dreams of prying open Radio Rey's lock on the market.
It's called "La Invasora." The Invader.
Alberto Monserrate is president and CEO of Latino Communications Network, which owns La Invasora.
"One of the main reasons we use the name is because it was a popular name in Mexico, and most of our audience is from Mexico," he says. "But we did want to play a little bit with the concept of us invading the airways in the Twin Cities, and have a little fun with that, too. That's probably how the competition took it, that we were invading."
Observers say La Invasora could well give Radio Rey a run for its money and challenge its market dominance. That's largely because the station has a deep-pocket investor in New York. And, the station's owner also owns Minnesota's oldest and biggest Spanish language newspapers and magazines, including La Prensa and Gente de Minnesota.
Luis Fitch owns a design and marketing firm that helps corporate clients gain a foothold in the growing Latino consumer market.
"From an outsider, I think I would be really, really concerned with them," Fitch says. "What LCN offers, it's a complete package. If I was an advertiser, I would like to negotiate bigger packages than just radio. I would want to say, 'What else can you do for me?'" Luis Fitch It doesn't cost very much to advertise on Radio Rey and La Invasora: $100 to produce a one-minute ad, and then $40 to $50 each time it airs.
In the biggest markets in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami or New York, you can't do anything for less than $200, and there's usually a requirement to buy multiple spots.
La Invasora's managers estimate the ad revenue for Minnesota's Spanish Language radio is about $1 million a year, but has the potential to grow to millions more as the market for Spanish language radio expands.
Marketing analyst Luis Fitch says advertisers who want to reach the Latino market should be interested in radio because it's hugely important to many Mexican immigrants living here.
Fitch says radio connects the community to cultural and political happenings, and many listen from when they wake up until they go to sleep at night. Fitch says most people listen four to six hours a day.
The majority of this target market are working at kitchens, at restaurants, they're working at hotels, they're gardeners, they're working on roofs. So they're always connected to radio.
- Luis Fitch, marketing analyst
"I'm going to generalize with this," Fitch says, "but the majority of this target market are working at kitchens, at restaurants, they're working at hotels, they're gardeners, they're working on roofs. And part of their entertainment is the radio. So they're always connected to radio. And radio's extremely, extremely important."
Given that listenership, it's not surprising the one thing both Radio Rey and La Invasora are focusing on is the current political situation.
As DJ El Vaquero talks to listeners about their favorite Mexican soccer teams from the La Invasora studio, Alberto Monserrate says the station is dealing with serious issues.
"It's usually the fun and games you're seeing now," he says. "But where we've really gotten the most response out of anything we've done is always been when we deal with the whole immigration issue."
Monserrate says his seven-month-old station was born with the current immigration rallies and recent boycott, called "A Day Without Immigrants." Both events aimed to raise the visibility of the economic and political muscle of Minnesota's Latinos.
Before the events this spring, Monserrate says station hosts exhorted listeners to show up and be heard at the demonstrations.
"It's a combination of something we felt we should do on the radio because it was very obvious that our listeners wanted it, and we felt we should be part of it ourselves," he says. "It's something our audience has responded like nothing else we've done."
La Invasora's competition, Radio Rey, also gave hours of airtime to promoting the rallies.
An estimated 30,000 people attended the April rally at the state Capitol. Many give Radio Rey and La Invasora credit for the big turnout.
The dominant English-language stations in the Twin Cities like KQRS and WCCO have little to fear from Radio Rey and La Invasora.
But Spanish language radio is undoubtedly a growing market. Clear Channel Communications has switched 33 of its stations nationwide to the Spanish language format. And the number one station in Los Angeles is all in Spanish.
Competition between Radio Rey and La Invasora is heating up. Radio Rey's owner, Guadalupe Gonzalez, recently learned his ratings are dropping. La Invasora, on the other hand, is talking about expanding its reach to the FM dial.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS, /PRNewswire/ -- UNO Latino Branding, an industry-leading Hispanic Latino packaging and promotions agency based in Minneapolis, MN, announced today that a newly redesigned line of children's cookies has hit store shelves across the United States. UNO was granted the opportunity to develop the new branding and packaging design for six popular GAMESA brand cookies (NYSE: PEP - News). GAMESA is the largest cookie manufacturer in Mexico and subsidiary of Frito-Lay North America.
A few key learnings that resulted from the field studies GAMESA and UNO Latino Branding undertook were that Mexican and Mexican-American consumers have a higher expectation of package design as they become more assimilated into the U.S. culture. Principal and Creative Director, Luis Fitch, at UNO Latino Branding states, "the core consumer still considers GAMESA cookies a high quality buy at a value-price and can easily find them from local neighborhood shops to general market grocery stores, however, the package design lacks in terms of what the consumer has learned to expect on grocery shelves next to other cookie brands." Armed with this insightful knowledge of consumer's expectations, UNO's goal was to redesign the entire line to increase appetite appeal and competitive value amongst other brands.
The children's line of GAMESA cookies has 6 core brands: Animalitos, Arcoiris, Arcoiris Naranja-Limon, Chokis, Lonchera, and Mamut. Each brand was introduced into the marketplace during different decades; therefore the package design reflected the sensibilities of the times of their launch. The product packaging lacked consistency in their character illustration, uses of appetite appeal and lacked unique ties of each cookie package to the Core Parent Brand: GAMESA.
UNO's objective and eventual solution was to unify the branding and packaging to give each of the six packages a sense of belonging to the same brand platform. Luis Fitch (UNO's Principal and Creative Director) and team established several branding rules and developed an enriching toolbox for these six brands and other GAMESA brand cookies to follow.
In conjunction with new branding rules, UNO Latino Branding was careful to keep many iconic elements that had immense brand equity. Maintaining the color palette for the redesign was extremely important to both UNO Latino Branding and GAMESA. However, UNO Latino Branding did introduce a blue wave to the package design intended to create a universal branding template on store shelves for the cookies. Additionally, the GAMESA logo, seen both as a G and a heart was incorporated into the package background in a very subtle way further branding the design.
UNO Latino Branding also took a fresh approach to each of the existing character illustrations. The same artist re-illustrated the characters and identified iconic key details that offered a more modern appeal. The fresh approach allowed the characters to be more engaged with the product and an opportunity to cross-promote with other products such as "milk and cookies" to come to life with the characters. Furthermore, UNO Latino Branding introduced a series of new characters proposing potential iconic status for brands that did not have an existing character.
Finally, in an attempt to reintroduce the GAMESA brand to consumers who have parted ways with the brand, UNO Latino Branding designed and incorporated important elements to side panels reinforcing the history, promise of tradition and strength of the brand. As well as, the back panel was redesigned to introduce the illustrated characters and give the consumers an interactive game forum. The consumer is reminded of the emotional ties held by the brand as well as a way for the consumer to interact and connect with the brand, focusing on a powerful combination to re-establish loyalty.
The newly redesigned packages now have a fresh, modern appetite appeal that has a unifying branding architecture to the same brand platform and stands out on the grocery store shelves. The new packages can be found in grocery stores across the United States.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
With the accelerated growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S., artist and designer Luis Fitch wants to ensure that this market is served with art centered primarily in Hispanic themes with a crossover appeal. He presents a fun and unique gift book that will appeal to Spanish–speaking readers as well as English–speaking readers who have friends of Hispanic heritage.
Latina friendships run intense and true. This bilingual collection of zippy quotes, classic literary snippets, and sassy comments on life is a tribute to these amazing friendships and to the deep roots that keep them anchored for a lifetime. The colorful and brilliant artwork of Luis Fitch captures and complements all the spice and zest that embodies these wonderful relationships.
This homage to a friend whose love, understanding, and encouragement have made life sweeter make a delightful gift for birthdays, special accomplishments, as a thank–you, or just because.
Frontera Lake Street
Artists: Salvador Espejo Benitez, Luis Fitch, Alexa Horochowski, Douglas Padilla, Marcela Rodriquez A, and Xavier Tavera
Minnesota Artists Gallery
Frontera Lake Street was presented by Grupo Soap del Corazón (“spanglish” for “soap of the heart”), a group of artist and cultural activists devoted to the promotion of “border” culture in Minnesota. Grupo Soap produces and presents an ongoing series of exhibitions and projects that acknowledge, in particular, the Latinization of Lake Street in Minneapolis, with its mercados, taquerias, tortillerias, Latin record stores, night-clubs, boot shops, and salons.
Each of the “Frontera Six” has a unique history and perspective. From newcomer to second-generation immigrant, they have connections to Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, from tiny rural villages to frontera cities like Tijuana and Juarez, to the international urban center of Mexico City, now the largest city in the world.
Inspired by Mexican pop culture each of the Six invented and assumed the persona of an imaginary professional wrestler. Each wrestler was conceived with a distinct personality, stage name, mask, and costume. The Frontera wrestlers attended the opening of the exhibit; their capes and masks were hung on the gallery wall through-out the exhibit-events that celebrated the “high” and the “low” of art.
The artwork featured in the gallery installation at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts included tiny landscapes painted on corn, rice and other seeds by Salvador Espejo Benitez, depicting scenes of Minnesota on one side and Mexico on the other. Luis Fitch's mixed-media work illustrated the opportunities that have drawn Mexicans to Minnesota, as well as the risks they have taken to cross over. A Central American-style trinket cart by Alexa Horochowski was packed with saleable art miniatures, including hand-painted surrogate wrestling figures of the Frontera artists themselves. Douglas Padilla's intense symbolist paintings referenced the North and the South, connecting the Mississippi River with the desert. Chilean painter Marcela Rodriquez A. was inspired by her Latino students and the landscape of her homeland. Xavier Tavers's large-scale color photographs revealed Latinos as both visible and invisible.
As agencies viciously compete for the Peter Glen Award for Public Service, UNO announces a victory.
UNO “Branding for the New Majority” has added to its list of accomplishments the prestigious Peter Glen Special Award for Public Service awarded by the Retail Advertising & Marketing Association for 2004. RAMA sponsors several competitions and the winners are announced at the annual Retail Advertising Conference (RAC). RAMA, which also belongs to the National Retail Federation, “is a trade association of retail marketing and advertising professionals, plus their counterparts on the agency, media and service-provider sides of the business.” RAC is the annual conference held by RAMA that boasts that it is the “largest single gathering of retail marketing and advertising executives in the industry today.” The Peter Glen Award “recognizes companies who demonstrate a strong commitment to their community, nation or world,” and is highly prized in the retail industry.
UNO won the competition with its Chicano Art Exhibit. This traveling art gallery is presented by Target and displays the personal art collection of Cheech Marin. The focus of the exhibit is to celebrate the history and contributions of Chicano culture. The exhibit began its journey in 2001 after it embarked from San Antonio, and its itinerary includes 15 cities within a span of five years.
Cheech Marin has been entertaining America for over three decades but few are aware of his interest in art. Marin, widely recognized from his “Cheech and Chong” movies is a third generation Mexican American and takes pride in his heritage. Marin is one of the largest collectors of Chicano art in the United States. Marin wanted to share his art collection with others, and after teaming up with Target Corporation, an exhibition was set to hit the road.
UNO Branding for the New Majority landed the advertising account for the exhibition and proceeded to do the campaign in a bilingual fashion. Luis Fitch, founder of UNO, wanted to attract all lovers of art including English, as well as, Spanish speakers. Every aspect of the campaign is bilingual from brochures to posters. Fitch incorporated Chicano art influences into the campaign art to demonstrate what the exhibition is all about. With the final touches by UNO, CHICANO was ready to hit the road. The exhibition has an itinerary that includes 15 cities in four years.
Recently, Fitch was informed that his work on CHICANO won him the Peter Glen Special Award for Public Service at the 2004 Retail Association Conference. The conference is an annual event sponsored by the Retail Advertising & Marketing Association that boasts that RAC is the “largest single gathering of retail marketing and advertising executives in the industry.” The Peter Glen Award “recognizes companies who demonstrate a strong commitment to their community, nation or world,” and is highly prized in the retail industry.
Governor Jesse Ventura to meet with UNO Hispanic Branding to learn more about the Mexican culture.
Governor Jesse Ventura to meet with UNO Hispanic Branding to learn more about the Mexican culture.
[MINNEAPOLIS, MN, UNO “Branding For The New Majority,”
an award winning agency specializing in targeting Hispanics in the U.S. and Latin America has been selected for its great acumen on Hispanic culture to counsel the Governor on his next business trip.
Governor Ventura will travel to México to meet with Mexican officials and business leaders to promote commercial trade between Minnesota and México.
Governor Ventura will travel to México to meet with Mexican officials and business leaders to promote commercial trade between Minnesota and México.
“It is smart for the Governor to understand the cultural and business nuances of Mexico before his journey,” noted Luis Fitch creative director of UNO. “We are hired for our deep knowledge of the Hispanic market, but our consumer advertising models can be applied to any culture. Great thinking should not be restricted to one specific consumer group’s language or cultural nuances.”
Inside the business of graphic design By Catharine M. Fishel
Share the insights of today's most legendary graphic designers as they revealhe best-kept secrets (and failures) of their business lives! Based onne-on-one interviews with over 60 graphic design business owners, Inside theusiness of Graphic Design casts a precise and realistic light on the risks,equirements, and rewards of running a creative and successful designusiness. Six sections discuss the entire cycle of business ownership,ncluding goal setting, finding the right management style, cooperating withmployees, triggering growth, and even rethinking whether to stay with theusiness or move on. Whether you dream of setting up a small studio or haveeen on your own for years, this provocative guide is an important source ofuccess strategies for every graphics professional.
Buy the book at;
GAMESA®, a division of Frito-Lay Inc., granted UNO Hispanic Branding the opportunity to develop a Lent-driven promotional package and POS offering a value-added and emotional connection between Lent and GAMESA® Saladitas. With Lent/Cuaresma season upon us, many Mexican Catholic consumers turn to a more seafood laden diet. Saltine crackers are a perfect combination and popular choice for traditional dishes and ideal for snacking and dipping.
UNO Hispanic Branding created a bi-lingual violator tagline featuring “La Combinacion Perfecta, Atun y GAMESA® Saladitas ” (The Perfect Combination, Tuna and GAMESA® Saladitas). Relaying the message is a fun illustration of a fish who made his debut last year as a Red Snapper and this year returns as a Tuna. He reminds the consumer to check the back panel for 1 of 3 collectible Lent-themed recipes. The recipes feature the use of Tuna and GAMESA® Saladitas and were developed by UNO. The seasonal promotion was executed for 2 different size packages: GAMESA® Saladitas 14.74oz and 18.06oz. Thematic POS designs include 2 displays, one structural pallet display featuring 8 ft palm trees and GAMESA® brand along with Tuna-Hero, elevating awareness and creating excitement from quite a distance. The second is smaller, featuring a GAMESA® branded rowboat, perfect for smaller store display areas.
Through this partnership, GAMESA® and UNO’s goal is to increase the use of GAMESA® Saladitas and make Mexican consumers aware that they are a great tasting cracker and ideal to enjoy with authentic Mexican dishes and dips during this Lent/Cuaresma season.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Tlalnepantla, Estado de Mexico, December 5th, 2008 –
Emphasizing its confidence and commitment with Mexico,
Best Buy opened today its first store in Mexico, located in
Mundo E Shopping Center, at the northern part of Mexico City,
in the presence of Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico,
Enrique Peña Nieto, Governor of the State of Mexico, Marco
Antonio Rodriguez Hurtado, Tlalnepantla Municipality Mayor,
and Mr. Gerardo Ruiz Mateos, Minister of Economy.
Mexico City, August 21st, 2008 – Best Buy, the leader
retailing chain store in consumer electronics, computers
and entertainment, appliances, music instruments, services
and extended guarantees, among others, officially announced
today that the beginning of its operations in Mexico, as
well as the opening of its first store in the metropolitan area,
North of Mexico City, during the fourth quarter of 2008.
Gain: AIGA Business and Design Conference
October 23–25, 2008
UNO’s Filtros: A Hispanic Ethnography Tool for Better Design
ABOUT THIS VIDEO
Luis Fitch points out that nearly 15 percent of the United States population is Hispanic, but there is incredible diversity among Spanish-speakers and varying degrees of acculturation. UNO’s FiltrosTM system is a tool for businesses to understand their market via a set of filters that describe how these audiences see the world. Fitch gives specific examples from his firm’s branding work, and warns that if executives continue to ignore the unaccultured audience, their companies will be missing out on decades worth of brand impressions and loyalty.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Step Inside Design Magazine Interview
What brings a man born and raised in the hot, hard, chaotic, and lawless streets of Tijuana to a city such as Minneapolis, so opposite in character? What makes him stay? What persuades him to leave once he’s well established and comfortable?
UNO MINNEAPOLIS FROZEN OR ON THE ROCKS?
by Matthew PorterWhat brings a man born and raised in the hot, hard, chaotic, and lawless streets of Tijuana to a city such as Minneapolis, so opposite in character? What makes him stay? What persuades him to leave once he’s well established and comfortable? Opportunity, hard work, and homesickness are the short answers to these questions. For Luis Fitch, now 40, the answers also involve his peripatetic nature —his genetic makeup—born to a woman with no place to go, an iron will, and an instinct for survival.
Born in 1965, Fitch grew up poor in Tijuana. His mother, Maria, of Spanish and Saudi parents, arrived there at the age of 16, pregnant, alone, and with no clear place to go. She gave birth to her son, Luis, and began to build a life for herself—the hard way. As the years passed, she did not speak of the how’s and why’s of the predicament she found herself in at that time; she merely accepted it as fact and moved forward.
“My mother never acted as though being so young and having a child was either a hardship or something to be ashamed of,” Fitch recalls. “She was happy and hardworking and she knew how to make a buck. She’d drive across the border to thrift stores to buy fine clothing discarded by rich ladies; she’d buy used jewelry and watches, too. She then sold these things from the hood of her car at weekend markets, me at her side, helping artfully present the goods and make the pitch.”
The young mother led by example, instilling in her son the value of hard work, self-respect, and perseverance. Although poor, she exposed her son to culture and knowledge, taking Luis to public galleries, zoos, museums, and libraries as often as possible. Once a month, they’d travel to San Diego’s Balboa Park to see the museums and the zoo. “If there was a fee and we could not afford to go in, we went to the book stores so we could be as close as possible,” recalls Fitch. Thus, his interest in art and culture grew, and he became a keen observer of the customs, traditions, and crazy paella that was (and is) Tijuana.
Yet, what made Tijuana a rich stew also made it dangerous: outlaws and nomads. As her son grew into his teens, Maria was determined to keep him out of the drug and gang culture that consumed many of its young. She continued to work hard and raise Luis and eventually married Alfredo Larin, an architect whose work was widely respected but who was recovering from a devastating divorce that left him virtually penniless.
LOGOS FOR DRUG LORDS
“I didn’t avoid the drug world, but I got through it,” Fitch says. Like many kids in the border town, the young teenager hung with a crowd that lived on the edge. They weren’t that good—but they weren’t that bad, either. They were all in training, looking up to some notorious older kids as role models. “You have to understand that in our community the ‘successful’ guys made money through drugs. They drove big, fancy cars and opened nightclubs. For a while, I thought I was going to be a drug lord. Looking back, I’m lucky to have gotten through it,” he pauses, “because many of my old friends from those days are now dead from AIDS, drugs, or outlaw violence.”
Fitch’s artistic interests kept him from falling through the cracks. He entered a polytechnic school, Escuela Secundaria Técnica Numero 1, that channeled kids with a demonstrated aptitude into focused disciplines. One channel was technical drawing, a skill young Fitch thought might lead to architecture. At the school, he also learned English, enhanced by his love of FM XTRA 91X, an alternative rock station broadcast out of San Diego with a tower in Tijuana.
Fitch began working at his stepfather’s architecture office doing odd jobs, cleaning up, mounting presentations, and helping out with building models. It was good exposure to the applied arts, and he liked it. He also enjoyed thumbing through the many architectural and design magazines about the Larin office. He recalls, “It was like, ‘I can make money doing this stuff? Cool.’” Thus the graphic design career of Luis Fitch began: doing logos for clubs owned by young drug lords. Better than flipping burgers.
THE ART CENTER PASSPORT
At the age of 18, Fitch moved with his mom and stepfather to San Diego (Maria Larin is a U.S. citizen, born in New York City). He entered the New School of Architecture there, studying drafting and working on his English. He says his English was “awful,” so he entered San Diego City College for general studies, including English, graphic design, and core class work. He spent a lot of time at the city’s public libraries or those on campus, absorbing all he could about art, architecture, design, and popular culture.
Charles Lagreca, dean of Graphic Communication at City College at that time, was a graduate of Art Center. He frequently invited fellow Art Center alum in to talk and teach. One day, Fitch learned from Lagreca that Milton Glaser was going to Art Center to speak and show his posters. Fitch went. “I was so inspired by Glaser, all I could do afterward was think about how I could get into Art Center. But it was expensive, and it seemed far out of my reach,” he recalls.
He found a way. Fitch built a portfolio and talked his way in. At the age of 23, Art Center granted him an eight-term scholarship with full tuition and fees. Supplies and living expenses were up to him. So, against school policy, Fitch skirted the rules, designing for some old friends in Tijuana and working a few odd jobs he could find among contacts in San Diego.
Fitch graduated from Art Center at age 25 with job offers from Walt Disney, Landor & Associates, and Fitch, Inc. (no relation). He went with Fitch. It was a wise choice.
THE HISPANIC STATES OF AMERICA
Located in Columbus, Ohio, Fitch, Inc. offered Luis Fitch something others could not: multidisciplinary assignments (environmental and graphic) and cross-cultural design for clients here and in Mexico. Luis distinguished himself with talent and savvy and soon became a vocal proponent of cross-cultural communication. His client work included Disney Vacation Club, Haggar Apparel, and Supermercados Aurrera, one of Mexico’s leaders in the “hypermarket” category. He learned at Fitch of the huge demand for experts who could translate Mexican consumer demands into English and North American retail concepts. Luis decided to become that expert, drawing deeply and borrowing liberally from the many Hispanic cultural influences he knew from both Tijuana and Southern California.
“Tijuana is a melting pot of Mexican, Central American, and South American cultures. It has always been the ‘door’ to the United States, where people from all over came to join the line for a chance to come to the States. There are Chileans, Salvadorans, Peruvians, Colombians, Brazilians, Ecuadorians, Nicaraguans, varieties of indigenous Mexicans—you name it—living there, bringing their music, food, holidays, and traditions into the scene,” Luis says. “It was a rich environment that colored my life. What I bring to the table in terms of design today are those colors. They help set me apart.”
He left Fitch, Inc. in Columbus to join a friend in Miami. They opened SHD, Strategic Hispanic Design. Fitch offered an explanation: “We were young. He had his issues; I had mine. But one thing I learned the hard way was the ‘Latin’ culture and voice is too complex to assign to all ‘Latin’ people. What the hell do Miami Cubans want with a Mexican-styled logo?”
While in Miami, Fitch and his partner won an important account: MTV Latino, a comprehensive contract from corporate identity to marketing materials. Fitch worked hard but his partner grew distracted. A break occurred. Afterwards, Fitch won national recognition for the MTV work and headhunters began calling. A division of an ad agency in Minneapolis named “Fame” hired Fitch in 1995.
From noisy, steamy, Latin Miami, Fitch went to discreet, chilly, Lutheran Minneapolis. Design-savvy and coolish Minneapolis suited Fitch and wife Carolina nicely from the beginning. At Fame, he became familiar with the numerous multinationals in the city, including Target, Pillsbury, and General Mills, each with a keen interest in reaching the city’s growing Hispanic market. But after one year, in 1996, Fitch joined John Ryan Company, a leading financial retail marketing firm. There he remained until 1999, whereupon he and Carolina, with $10,000, opened Uno to begin “branding for the new majority.”
THE FULL FITCH PITCH
In the years since, Fitch and his team of four, five, or six—depending upon the economy—have produced some terrific, ethnically distinct work. In fact, there is little in the portfolio that does not look Hispanic. A master pitchman since his days selling clothes and watches off the hood of a car, Fitch perfected his pitch, “branding for the new majority.”
Fitch freely admits that the tagline, promise, business model, mantra—whatever you wish to call it—is a measure of both fact and hyperbole, packaged inside design vocabulary deliberately and deceptively made to look unschooled, unsophisticated, and uncomplicated. It is anything but. Says Fitch, “I didn’t want a slick portfolio like everybody else. Sleek and clean is not the way most Hispanics see the world, except maybe in places like Mexico City. So I made it look bad, on purpose.”
Uno’s bad is very good. It resonates with the target market and, therefore, appeals to Fitch’s clients. Credit for this look also belongs to illustrator Anthony Russo, who, along with Fitch, is responsible for much of the company’s hand-drawn, illustrationdriven design.
What is instructive about Fitch is that he practices what he preaches. It is rare to find a design company of its size (five, today, including husband and wife) that spends as much time and money on self-promotion. When Fitch calls upon you, his arms are loaded: reprints of numerous articles testifying to Uno’s savvy and success, posters, compendiums, postcards, small brochures. It is impressive, both in terms of quantity and in terms of beauty and substance as well.
Fitch has sliced, diced, and julienned the area’s Hispanic demographics so often that he can recite population density figures, income figures, English language skill figures, and acculturation percentages, and cross reference them with other U.S. Hispanic communities in an instant. He can break down communities by national descent, and recite for you the particular vocabulary, music, food, holiday, dress and sports habits, and preferences of each. In short, Fitch knows the Minneapolis Hispanic community as well as anyone.
As for the growth and strength of Minneapolis’ Hispanic community, no one has promoted it more than Fitch. Uno regularly donates creative skills, while Fitch promotes the Hispanic District as though he were President of the Chamber of Commerce. Uno even began on the second floor right in the middle of the district’s heart and soul—the loud and bustling Mercado Central on Lake Street.
The Minneapolis Hispanic community has been good to Fitch, and Fitch has been good for it. Now he wants to take his leave.
“I miss my culture,” Fitch says, with a note of weariness and regret. “I have been here 10 years, and I have loved it. But 7 months a year, 10 years in a row, where temperatures remain below 10 degrees Celsius? That’s not normal for me.”
Fitch also misses the wider variety of Hispanic culture found in other American cities, adding, “I miss a place where Mexican people are not so much a ‘part’ of the community as they are a driving force within the community. I want our child to experience that.” That leaves Fitch in the “partially acculturated” category of his own demographic research. He never went fully acculturated, or North American. He sold the idea of cross-cultural marketing, he touted the value of una comunidad, and he preached the gospel of building and growing the Minneapolis Hispanic market. But he never fully bought into all of it—and never will. He feels the need to go somewhere else. And who can blame him?
Today, he is reaching out to contacts in cities such as Miami, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Denver in search of options and collaborations. But he and his wife know that in leaving what they have built they are taking a risk. In Minneapolis, Fitch has been successful because he is unique among others. The obvious question for Fitch is this: In mainstream, Lutheran, progressive Minneapolis, what happens when Luis Fitch is not one of the few, richly talented, Mexican/Hispanic designers in town?
“I don’t know,” he admits. “But I guess I’m going to find out. I have to find out. Because the decision is out of my hands.” Leaving behind all that you know takes courage. Leaving behind all that you have established takes self-confidence. And a mother like Maria, who left everything behind at the age of 16 to birth a son and raise him in the streets of Tijuana, is the kind of woman who can teach you that you can do it. The rest is up to you. Adios from Minneapolis, Mr. Fitch. And buena suerte (good luck) wherever you land.