As one of the nation's leading authorities on Hispanic
voting, faculty lecturer Adam J. Segal is sharing his
expertise with master's degree students enrolled in the
Communication in Contemporary Society program, part of the
Krieger School's Advanced Academic Programs based at Johns
Hopkins' Washington Center.
As part of Ethnic Marketing and Political
Communication, a course he developed and introduced this
semester, Segal recently transformed 18 students into
political consultants and advertising executives for a
day--and brought in actual 2004 presidential campaign
advisers to evaluate the students' simulated campaign
Framed by blue and red balloons and patriotic bunting,
two student teams of consultants--one representing
President George W. Bush and the other, presumptive
presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry--laid out detailed
marketing strategies aimed at Hispanic voters across the
nation. Powerpoint presentations and story boards helped
each team make its case that its project offered the client
a winning strategy.
"A lot of Hispanics don't know who [Kerry] is," said
student Celinda Gonzalez, a Mexican-American who made the
case on the Kerry team that the campaign needed to focus on
introducing the candidate to Hispanic voters.
The presentations were the culmination of the 14-week
course. During the semester Segal had brought in marketing
and advertising experts to talk about ethnic-marketing
strategies for utilizing television, radio, print
publications, the Internet and events with specific
attention to the three top targets of ethnic-marketing
campaigns: Hispanic, African and Asian Americans.
A sign created by the class's Bush
PHOTO BY KAVEH SARDARI
The guest speakers included David Wellisch, vice
president and executive director of AOL Latino; Kelli
Richardson Lawson, executive vice president of marketing
and communications at Black Entertainment Television;
Jennifer Ahn from Image Media Services, an Asian-owned
agency; and Joseph Matos, creative director of ZGS
Communications, a Hispanic agency.
"That's exactly the kind of engaging sessions students
are looking for: to bring real world experiences, real
industry experiences into the classroom," he said. "I want
my students to understand that with more skills and
experience they are just a step or two away from a
successful career in the same fields as our guest
Students gained knowledge of the many layers of ethnic
media in the United States and learned about strategies for
helping corporations, government agencies and even
politicians effectively reach ethnic communities. Segal
devoted entire class sessions to ethnic magazines--there
are hundreds--and ethnic television networks or stations
like Univision, Telemundo and BET, to name a few.
As founder of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns
Hopkins, a nonpartisan research effort that grew out of his
master's thesis in Hopkins' government program at the
Washington Center, Segal has brought attention to a growing
but often disregarded subject: minority voting.
J. Gabriel Rendon
PHOTO BY KAVEH SARDARI
"He's somebody who has taken a lot of time to learn
about the Hispanic community," said Fabiola
Rodriguez-Ciampoli, director of specialty media for the
Democratic National Committee. "Though he's not Hispanic,
he gets it. He understands the importance of marketing to
the Hispanic community."
Said student Stefannie Bernstein, "The amount of
knowledge he has made this class so valuable."
In his class, Segal sought to integrate ethnic
marketing with political communications in an academic
package not often available at other institutions.
"Is there a need? Absolutely," said
Rodriguez-Ciampoli, who said she found a lack of such
programs when she first came to Washington. "Ethnic
marketing is becoming increasingly important, even at the
Peter Decherney, associate chair of the Communication
in Contemporary Society Program, said, "It's an
increasingly important subset [of marketing]. And you
wouldn't find many [of these courses] around the
The class brought real-world applications to the
classroom and also fostered the development of professional
contacts for students, as some of the speakers made
themselves available after class. One student, in fact,
said she is currently in communication with a speaker about
a possible position.
"From the students' perspective, it was also an
unexpected opportunity to make some career contacts beyond
gaining some career skills," said Segal, a media consultant
who has recruited two of his students from this semester
for a new Spanish-language media monitoring project.
One goal of the course, Segal said, was for students
to understand the growing importance of the minority vote
and effective communications strategies that can be used to
"Even for students who didn't understand the strength
of minority voting coalitions before the class, they walked
away with a keen interest in the issue and a knowledge of
many of the steps that are necessary to take in order to
increase minority turnout," he said.
PHOTO BY KAVEH SARDARI
The class's final project--simulated ethnic marketing
strategies for the political campaigns--allowed students to
become marketing professionals for a day in front of
experienced campaign advisers, such as Rodriguez-Ciampoli.
Sharon Castillo, director of specialty media for the
Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, and Raul Damas, director of
Hispanic grassroots development for the Republican National
Committee, also joined the final class session and
critiqued the team presentations.
"What they did was what a campaign would do when
they're hiring an outside consultant who would present them
with a complete package," Rodriguez-Ciampoli said. "And I
think both teams were very professional."
But more than anything, Segal's passion for ethnic
marketing defined the class and engaged the students. He is
an avid consumer of news and advertising related to
multicultural marketing campaigns and said he finds that
mainstream media is reporting on the topic more frequently
"It adds value to the entire master's degree process
whenever a faculty member is able to bring their own
research and their own passion about a topic into the
classroom and personalize it in a way that they can get
students excited," Segal said.
Jessica Valdez is an intern in the Office of News and