Goya Foods, Inc. is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States with revenues in excess of $685 million, reflecting its excellent growth record since its founding some 60 years ago.  Even though Goya is a well known brand among Hispanics (its primary consumer group), its influence on the culture and community -- both Hispanic and mainstream -- remains relatively unknown outside places with large Hispanic populations (i.e., Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Puerto Rico).  Goya came to Shandwick to help establish it as not only a premier Hispanic-owned company but also as a fixture within a multitude of cultures in the US.

An opportunity arose for Goya to be recognized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which sought to permanently archive the company’s artifacts (photos, labels, promotional materials, advertisements, etc.) as the Goya Collection.  This was the first time the Museum acquired the artifacts of a Hispanic-owned business.  Items from the Goya Collection were to be on display beginning in Hispanic Heritage Month (mid-September through mid-October).


Weber Shandwick had three main objectives:

  • To further elevate the stature of Goya among consumers and trade media.
  • To position Goya as a heritage-rich company with high-quality food products and strong roots in the Hispanic community.
  • To firmly establish Goya as an important part of America’s multi-ethnic culture, as firmly established as any leading American brand.


Weber Shandwick’s planning included the launch the Goya Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on September 27, 2000 during a press conference near the Archive Center.  In addition, we coordinated plans for a VIP luncheon at the Smithsonian on the same day inviting Washington, DC-based multi-cultural organizations and elected officials.  Both events required extensive planning and coordination.  Weber Shandwick designed and began planning the press event and luncheon more than four months in advance.  We formed collaborative relationships with the government relations, public relations, special events, archives center and cultural history divisions of the Museum and, because of protocol-management imperatives, oversaw and coordinated a committee of decision-makers through a series of weekly and then daily conference calls.


Weber Shandwick deployed a three-part strategy: 1) set the diversity-supportive tone of the press event by conducting it inside the Smithsonian – a definitive multi-cultural venue; 2) Capitalize on media attention to Hispanic Heritage Month to create a halo effect for Goya; and 3) leverage Goya’s long-standing support of culture and education in communities across the country.


Weber Shandwick pursued its strategy through four tactics to gain exposure for Goya:

  • Message development
  • Aggressive bilingual outreach
  • Multimedia, bilingual material development
  • Corollary event planning

Message development: Weber Shandwick brought Goya and Smithsonian representatives together to develop messages about the meaning of the Goya Collection at the National Museum of American History.  As a result, the following messages emerged:

  • The Goya Collection tells a great American success story, not just the story of Goya or a Hispanic story, but also the story of thousands of immigrant-founded enterprises and their contribution to America.
  • The Collection is the Museum’s first from a Hispanic business.
  • The Collection allows researchers and the public to learn not only about the growth of a Latino-owned business, but to see how Latino culture has enriched American history.

These messages were the basis for all communications about the Goya Collection’s debut at the Smithsonian.  In addition, Weber Shandwick developed a set of issues-management messages for use in the event a member of the media brought up reports of a minor 1998 labor dispute associated with Goya’s Miami operation.  We are pleased to say that because we thoroughly researched members of the media list, it contained no unexpected, “hostile” members.  We did not have occasion to use the labor messages.

Aggressive bilingual outreach: In addition to pitching mainstream media, Weber Shandwick used its relationships with top Hispanic broadcast and print media to reach Spanish-speaking consumers in the US and Puerto Rico.  The press release for this event was disseminated in both English and Spanish, because, while Hispanic media professionals are fluent in English, we wanted the medium of our communications to be consistent with our multicultural message.  Press kits distributed at the event and via mail included both versions of the release, a set of photographs, biographies of Goya leaders, a Smithsonian Fact Sheet and a copy of the bilingual brochure Smithsonian developed to describe the Goya Collection.

Multimedia material development and dissemination: Weber Shandwick shot images of the Goya Collection in advance of the press event, added event footage of Goya and Smithsonian leaders and offered the media a complete b-roll within only a couple of hours of the press event.  The b-roll presents a Hispanic Heritage Month story about Goya as having a rich, inspiring history, as a supporter of the arts and education and as a peer to brands like Kraft and Campbell’s Soup.  We also offered photos of selected items from Goya Collection to the media.

Corollary event planning: To raise the visibility of the Goya Collection before elected officials and leaders of advocacy and other non-governmental organizations, Weber Shandwick worked with Goya and the Smithsonian on arranging a VIP networking luncheon at the Smithsonian after the press event.  Weber Shandwick conducted research to develop an invitee list with balanced representation of various national Latino associations, Hispanic community and business leaders, key cultural organizations and appropriate elected officials.


Our primary challenge was competing with news surrounding the Presidential election, the Olympics and another Smithsonian press event the day before the Goya event.  (Three weeks prior to the Goya Collection opening, the Smithsonian decided to host press event the day before Goya’s to mark the opening of an exhibit on the American Presidency to coincide with the national election.)  Weber Shandwick overcame these obstacles by reaching out with individually tailored pitches (including a reminder about Hispanic Heritage Month) to reporters covering a broad spectrum of beats, including business, lifestyle, multi-cultural, arts and entertainment. For example, we reached Marketplace Radio based on its interest in a recent ethnic parade, and gained the interest of Scripps Howard News Service with a pitch focusing on Hispanic Heritage Month.

Another critical challenge that Weber Shandwick overcame was working within the restrictions of Smithsonian’s protocol-dense special events policy while achieving our objectives for Goya.  The Smithsonian forbade any language that could be construed as promoting Goya as a company.  Instead, it allowed only references to Goya as a contributor to the community and to history. In effect, Weber Shandwick served two clients with often disparate aims and sensitivities; the Smithsonian, being a supported in part by taxes, demanded a non-commercial tone in all communications, while Goya was driven to push the envelope in promoting itself.  One example is the text of the invitation to the corollary event, the VIP luncheon, which underwent half a dozen drafts before Goya was satisfied with a version that met also the Smithsonian’s requirements.
We were able to get Goya’s messages into all the major Hispanic media and a number of non-Hispanic outlets.  We generated coverage in non-traditional markets (where Hispanics represent only a small portion of the audience/readership), such as Voice of America Radio Network, Marketplace National Radio, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and, Scripps Howard News Service (distributes to more than 100 newspapers across the U.S.).  In addition, we obtained coverage in media serving a largely or all-Hispanic audience/readership: Washington News Channel 8, Noticias in Miami and New York, Mega Communications (Baltimore and DC area), Hispanic Radio Network, Agencia EFE (top Hispanic wire), Tampa Tribune, El Neuvo Dia (top newspaper in Puerto Rico), The Star-Ledger (New Jersey), and La Opinion (top Hispanic paper in Los Angeles).  To date, Weber Shandwick generated a total of 3,443,825 audience impressions for the Goya Collection.