Ernest Bromley is a living artifact of Hispanic marketing history. He, along with his former partners Lionel Sosa and Al Aguilar, made a marketing breakthrough in the late ’80s and early ’90s when they produced bilingual commercials – notably a 1988 Coca Cola commercial that featured pop star Selena. Now, 34 years later, Bromley is closing the doors to his marketing agency to pursue a PhD in consumer behavior and ultimately become a college professor.
The closing agency, formerly Sosa and Associates, is now simply known as Bromley Communications and has 40 employees. The agency, located at the IBC Centre at 175 E. Houston St., focuses on Hispanic consumer markets throughout the nation so Bromley travels often. He said the decision to close the business was made so he could spending more time with his wife and aging father.
“(My wife and I) are doing a lot of caregiving,” he said. “My mom passed away about three or four years ago. My dad is 95. I’m still living on an airplane because we have a national business. I have to ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
Bromley is exploring 10 universities and will soon make a decision on the school he will attend. He said he’s primarily looking at what he calls “wow” schools, or Ivy League schools.
Bromley, who grew up in Mexico City, moved to the U.S. as a young man. Once in the States, he noticed that some Hispanics could only speak English, some could only speak Spanish, and some spoke a mixture of both languages. So Bromley took this observation and used it as a marketing strategy, tapping into a new approach for Latino consumerism.
“We were way ahead of our time,” Bromley said. “We saw the Hispanic market as it really is, it’s a bilingual market.”
Bromley’s work landed itself a permanent spot at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History “American Enterprise” series, which chronicles the development of America from an agricultural nation to one of the leading economies in the world. The exhibit, which opened July 1, includes some of the print and video ads Bromley, Sosa and Aguilar produced over the years.
“It’s a real honor, as an ethnic and Latino marketer, to be included in the advertising narrative of this country,” he said.
The agency produced a Western Union commercial in Havana, Cuba, last month, making Bromley the first American agency to film a TV campaign on the island. Bromley received 28 awards from the local Ad Federation earlier this year.
Bromley said that most people in the ’80s and ’90s didn’t understand or appreciate the benefits of multicultural marketing.
“We had a lot of educating to do…for decades. We also had to use solid research to prove the value of our work,” he stated in a news release. “Today, Hispanic marketing is a given. Now, we compete with the major general market agencies in terms of the quality and strategy we provide our clients.”
The agency’s current clients will likely move to Bromley’s parent company, Publicis Groupe.
*Featured/top image: Ernest Bromley. Courtesy photo.