Fairfield Now - Summer 2007
Class of '85 Profile
Gilbert Dávila: It's a small world after all
By Alejandra Navarro
In June 2005, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences held the first Emmys en Español to recognize the artists and executives who have made significant contributions to Spanish-language television. Gilbert Dávila, The Walt Disney Company's vice president of multicultural marketing, helped bring this ground-breaking ceremony to fruition and serves on the award selection committee of this annual event.
"As America becomes a true multicultural society, we continue to see events that reflect that reality," Dávila says. "Recognizing Spanish television personalities by giving them the honorable Emmy is what I call a sign of the times in that it shows the positive contributions that the Spanish community is making."
The Spanish-speaking population of the country is but one segment of the multicultural groups Dávila has worked to highlight as important assets to corporations. Dávila, who received a bachelor's degree in marketing, was part of the first wave of professionals to recognize the financial and societal importance of multicultural communities. Today, his role at Disney is to collaborate with the company's business units to establish their multicultural business strategies for all corporate divisions: Theme Parks and Resorts, Consumer Products, Studio Entertainment, and Media Networks.
His efforts have created loyal consumers of products from the Disney family of companies. That's a smart move, considering that the purchasing power of African-Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans is expected to be $1.7 trillion by 2010. Latinos - the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country - spent $736 billion in 2005 alone.
The work of creating advertisements and programs targeted to these communities also serves to integrate American society. "From our media network, one of the things we want to continue to do is reflect the viewership and the construct the right level of ethnic representation both in front and in back of the cameras," Dávila says. He notes the growing visibility of Latinos in television, such as ABC's Desperate Housewives, in which a Latino couple is the wealthiest household on Wisteria Lane, and the wildly popular Ugly Betty, centered on a Latina from Queens. (Disney is the parent company of ABC.)
While at Sears, where he worked after holding sales and marketing roles with Coca Cola USA and Procter & Gamble, Dávila implemented branding initiatives that simultaneously promoted the companies and supported multicultural events, including collaborating on the promotion of the World Cup Soccer matches, the distribution of Black History Month calendars, and the transformation of Sear's Spanish catalog into the glossy magazine Nuestra Gente, which translated means "Our People."
"When I started my career, working in the ethnic markets was considered a dead-end road," says Dávila. "I had a little crystal ball that told me that it would one day become an important element, not only in marketing, but to the core of this country. I guess that's an example of how it's O.K. to take advice from people, but also be forward thinking and be able to follow your instincts and your heart. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, your dreams will come true. A little pixie dust doesn't hurt, either."