“Feel The Ad Love” Podcast: Bunker58 Discusses Multicultural Marketing and Making A Difference

Bunker 58 set up shop in Houston and launched a powerful marketing and advertising firm to help small and mid-size businesses envision, create, and build their brand through top digital marketing and design tools. Valentina Gomez Bravo talked with us about the challenges and benefits of landing in the most culturally diverse city in the nation.

Do you have to love what you do to be really great at it?  We think so.  When you hear Joe’s story you’ll catch what we’re saying.  With a family bloodline that dates back to the golden days of Top 40 Radio, Joe was born to do this kind of stuff.  And he’s done it all, from on-air to sales, marketing and management.  Joe has a passion for radio,and as an account executive for the NPR station in Houston, Joe is the perfect fit to grow their advertiser base.  HPM has embraced some exciting new venues to get their message out to an adoring fan base.  Joe takes us behind the scenes with some history and the vision HPM has for the future.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION:

Ray Schilens:
It’s Ray Schilens here.

Bruce Abbott:
And this is a Bruce Abbott.

Ray Schilens:
Welcome to Feel The Ad Love.

Bruce Abbott:
A podcast produced by Radio Lounge at radioloungeusa.com. Featuring the inside scoop on advertising and marketing with guest interviews with some of the brightest minds in advertising. Each episode, we explore current trends and topics and the latest news and events in our ad community.

Ray Schilens:
Here’s something that’s really happening in our community. It’s a multicultural agency called Bunker 58. Direct from South America, Valentina Gomez Bravo. And we’re going to talk to her in just a moment. Lots of folks know about Radio Lounge or some people think Radio Lounge is your lounge where you get drinks and stuff. That’s not true.

Bruce Abbott:
Well, we have this… This is one of my favorite stories and I will share it with you. So, we have great big signs out on the side. If you’ve ever seen the Radio Lounge logo and we do have in our office building here a whole series of attorneys. There’s like attorneys then in this big… It’s like the attorney’s suite.

Ray Schilens:
Good to be in a building with attorneys.

Bruce Abbott:
Yes. And boy, some poor guy got out of there after… I’m assuming he took a legal beating.

Ray Schilens:
Yeah, a couple of black eyes and his wallet was thinner.

Bruce Abbott:
So about 8:30 in the morning, he comes walking over into our suite here, into our studios, and he stands in the middle of the hallway and he goes, “This isn’t a bar, is it?”

Ray Schilens:
And then he shuffled on out.

Bruce Abbott:
And then he walked right out and I just felt so bad for that guy.

Ray Schilens:
What we do do very well, as a matter of fact, is production services for broadcast and film on location, audio experiences, digital media, voice coaching, the production of high-end voice talent demos. We’ve done a few of those and we also do something else.

Bruce Abbott:
Some very cool stuff. If you’ve enjoyed our podcast, we do podcasts for a lot of folks. And we are now starting our division here of our podcast production division here at Radio Lounge. And we’re expanding and we will be launching here, probably in just the next few weeks or so. We will be launching our podcasting about podcasting podcasts. And this is going to be a podcast that is geared for business owners and marketing executives and to help them better use podcasting as a business tool. Because podcasting is hot right now.

Ray Schilens:
And so is Bunker 58. Let’s talk to Valentina Gomez Bravo right now.

Ray Schilens:
Bunker 58. How can you not love a name of an agency called Bunker 58?

Bruce Abbott:
They used to be Bunker 57. Now, they’re Bunker 58.

Ray Schilens:
The new Bunker 58. Valentina Gomez Bravo is a multi-passionate entrepreneur, thought-leader, and changemaker helping entrepreneurs in small to mid-sized businesses reach their full potential and achieve their dreams while working towards making the world a better place. I love that statement. Bunker 58 is one of her favorite entrepreneurial endeavors. Bunker 58, a branding design studio created to help entrepreneurs, small and midsize businesses envision, create, and build their brand through top digital marketing and design tools. And one more thing. Valentina is also a new board member for the American Ad Federation, Bruce, which is really cool.

Bruce Abbott:
Congratulations.

Ray Schilens:
And we’re going to ask you questions about that later. But first of all, most importantly, Bruce and I are here to find out more about Bunker 58. What’s going on, what you’re doing, and all that kind of great stuff.

Valentina Gomez:
Thank you all. Thank you for having me, first of all. Glad to be chatting with you guys today. So Bunker 58 came from, originally, our agency was born in Venezuela where I’m from. So, 58 is actually Venezuela country code.

Ray Schilens:
Ah, okay, that makes sense. It’s coming together, folks.

Valentina Gomez:
Correct.

Ray Schilens:
The little puzzle is coming together. Yeah, I like that.

Valentina Gomez:
So it all started with, if you wanted to talk to us, you would have to come to where we are and we are in Venezuela so that’s where the 58 comes from. And then the bunker part of it is basically what we called our office. So it started as an inside joke for everybody at the office and, “Oh, it’s our bunker, it’s our bunker.” And then it made its way to the official name of the agency.

Ray Schilens:
Was your bunker like a Quonset hut or something like that or was it a real building?

Valentina Gomez:
No.

Ray Schilens:
But you’re here. You made it safe and we’re so happy that we’re talking to you today.

Bruce Abbott:
So, you guys are obviously, your specialty really is branding design but you’ve got that multicultural twist, which is very important. And so, tell us a little bit about how that influences your process and the strategy that you guys would use for working with a company.

Valentina Gomez:
Well, the great part of our team… So we started all in Venezuela but right now, none of us live there anymore. So we’ve all been very fortunate to have the opportunity to live in different countries and speak different languages. So all our team is bilingual, English and Spanish. And even some of us speak other languages and we’re all around the world. So, we get to see how advertising is made in other places and what brands are doing in other cultures. And we’re able to bring all of that good stuff and all of everybody’s experiences in very different spaces into building the brands for the clients that work with us. So it’s a very unique way of looking at everything from many, many different points of view.

Bruce Abbott:
So you guys, you kind of refer to it as your signature strategy. What kind of components do you see as you’re putting all of this together that really can kind of help make up a successful brand from not only a business standpoint but also a cultural standpoint?

Valentina Gomez:
Well, a part of everything that we work with is really staying within the authenticity of the entrepreneur and the market that they are trying to reach. So that is key to everything that we do. And of course, creativity is another huge component of the work that we do for our clients. So we do a lot of what I call business therapy or soul searching into creating what our brand messaging is going to be and what ultimately is going to touch and connect with the audience because people buy people. So we try to look at our brands as people that we are creating to bring into the world so they interact with other people and their audiences that hopefully, we have a match.

Ray Schilens:
Why Houston, Valentina, and why would that be an important place for you guys to be?

Valentina Gomez:
Well, I was the first one to get here. It was more of by chance than by anything else. My family moved here and they invited me to come visit for a little bit and I saw an opportunity in the market. And just the fact that Houston is so diverse and that we have a little bit of everything and that the Hispanic market is so big. I thought it was a great space for us to sort of enter the market and start working with people in the U.S. And having that opportunity to connect both the Hispanic and the English-speaking market would be a great space to be at. All the opportunities that Houston brings is also key for us.

Ray Schilens:
You’ve engaged in a lot of different brands already at Bunker 58 and I would assume that, obviously, you’re bilingual, that’s an incredible thing. And we are in one of the most culturally diverse cities here in the United States. So this is a good place for you guys to end up. What are some of the challenges that you see as you market multiculturally? Are there barriers? Are there things you’ve got to reeducate folks? What are some of the toughest things you’ve run into so far?

Valentina Gomez:
It’s been a challenge, I’m not going to lie. Just the way business is done in different countries is just the biggest challenge to overcome. And learning how the market behaves and the way to reach clients is entirely different. The platforms that you have to use are entirely different. So, we’ve been able to create a good mix of what we bring to the table of what we’ve learned from our previous experiences in other countries. And then what we’ve learned here and sort of get the best of both worlds. And try to take advantage of the tools that we all in our different spaces come across to just enrich the entire experience and give our clients the best tools that we can find anywhere.

Ray Schilens:
So you said it’s a tougher process to reach a multicultural market. What is the barrier? What is the biggest challenge that you have to overcome? Is it an understanding of advertising and marketing? Even though you speak the same language, are you not speaking the same language maybe?

Valentina Gomez:
Yeah, it’s more about the culture and how people behave more than anything else. Because sometimes the same phrase, even if we say it in the same language, it still doesn’t ring the same if you’re from a different culture, if you have different ways of viewing the world. So, just learning to understand a whole new audience that might be listening to the same words but won’t take it the same way has been one of the biggest lessons that we’ve learned. So we do a lot of people-watching. And that psychological part of market behavior has been key to transition in successfully in touching a market that we had never worked with before.

Ray Schilens:
A lot of marketing takes place on English-speaking radio and television here in Houston. And I understand, I’ve heard this before, that the Hispanic market or the second-language market does not really get its share of exposure from advertisers. Have you seen that to be true?

Valentina Gomez:
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s getting better. I think we’re reaching that target more and people are more open to the importance of that growing market in the space. And it’s not only Spanish anymore. There’s so many cultures I do think need to be paid more attention to. I think it’s growing. I think people are listening more but sometimes we fall into cliches or stereotypes. So I think that’s the only space where we need to tread lightly kind of thing.

Bruce Abbott:
Yeah. One of the things I noticed when I was looking at your bio here and also looking at your kind of vision statement for Bunker 58, I’m seeing some themes here where, for example off of your bio talking about empathy and a better world and bettering society. And I’m looking here as your mission statement where it says, Bunker 58 is a branding and design studio dedicated to working with influencers to grow their brand, monetize their message, and make a difference in our world. That obviously is a big component to the culture there at Bunker 58. It sounds like you’ve got some really cool philosophies as far as using this as a vehicle for something bigger than just marketing and advertising.

Valentina Gomez:
Yeah, that definitely has been very important to me and to everybody in my team. We have a view of marketing that, it might not be the best popular one but I always want to go and I want to encourage my clients to go further than just selling a product or to go further than just selling a service. Because at the end of the day, at the other side of the transaction, there’s human beings. And the power that we have in our hands, in our messaging, and in all these platforms is you can’t even put a limit to it. It’s so huge. Sometimes we’re not responsible enough with the power that we have. I always tell people that your brand is your business’ superpower. And it’s up to you if you use it for good or for evil. So, I work really hard into trying to tie everything that we do into something that’s going to bring a larger benefit than just the financial outcome, either to clients or to their audiences. Because at the end of the day, for us, it has to be about more than money.

Ray Schilens:
I also like the way that you always bring things back to the human being. In other words, it’s the brand but it’s not the brand. It’s not a physical object. Well, it is, I guess, it’s a person. It’s not an inanimate object. It is a true human being. So it breathes, has a heartbeat, and it seems to me that you’re approaching this opportunity to help brand your clients. Is that true?

Valentina Gomez:
Yeah. For me, and we do this a lot, we view businesses and brands as people. Because at the end of the day, people buy people. It doesn’t matter how you connect with the brand, there’s a subconscious part of you that’s connecting with the values and what that brand is portraying. Sometimes there’s no logical reason why you buy a certain product. It’s just because you feel like it or you connect with something. And that something has a human component to it. Because we as human beings connect with human things and human emotions. So, that’s why advertising has been shifting a lot to that. It’s more about the message. It’s more about how we connect. And now more than ever, I think the consumer is turning more into that part of the business, the human side of it. So, I view it as something that cannot be separated. And we do a lot of education on that. And it’s very key and very evident in everything that we do.

Ray Schilens:
Says here on your bio that you spent two years as a college professor and I think that’s really cool. I want to find out more about that. And it says, which is where you found your passion for teaching, improving people’s skills and nurturing their talents. What was it like to be a college prof?

Valentina Gomez:
It was awesome. I was super scared in the beginning. I was finishing my master’s in Argentina when I got a call from my college to come back home and teach. At first, I was a little terrified. I’m like, “Are you sure I’m the right person for this job?” And all of my professors were so insistent and for them, it was so clear that that’s where I should be, that I was like, “You know what?” Like they fought me. So if they believe that this is where I should be then I’m going to give it a shot. And I said, “I’ll do a semester and try it out. I’m not making any promises.” And I don’t think it was more than three, four classes, and I was completely in love with teaching.

Ray Schilens:
Which is probably why you’re so good at what you do now.

Bruce Abbott:
That’s exactly what I was thinking. There’s nothing more human-to-human than the teaching process.

Ray Schilens:
The teaching part. Yeah, yeah. And then it also says you’ve always been a very artistic person. Painting, dancing, singing, designing, creative writing, photography. And that has to be a big benefit for getting into the engagement of your clients. I mean, it seems like you’ve got it all there. Soup to nuts, A to Z, you can do this, this, this, and this and get the folks to there. I wanted to find out too, Valentina, while we’re on multicultural marketing, are there some hotspots right now trending that would be a benefit for folks? I mean, what is out there right now or maybe on the horizon that’s going to be out there? Take us over the horizon and tell us where this stuff is headed for multicultural.

Valentina Gomez:
Well, there’s a lot of conversation right now that I’ve been hearing about people being vocal about where they stand on certain things or certain issues and things that are happening in the world. And there’s a lot of hesitation of, “Oh, I shouldn’t talk about this in my business or I shouldn’t talk about that in my branding. I don’t want to lose any clients. I don’t want to alienate my audience.” But I think that’s where the world is going. People want to find everything about who you are, even if you’re a business and everything that you stand for.

Valentina Gomez:
So, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or your culture or your language. There’s, I think, a global component to people wanting to go further and deeper into a business or your brand and really finding something that they can truly connect with. So, I would say just seeing a lot of brands that are taking that risk and that are being very vocal about issues in the world and about how they see the world from their lenses. And I think that’s a great breakthrough and I would love to see more companies just be courageous and be open.

Ray Schilens:
You’ve taken time now to devote part of your time. Because you do a lot of stuff in the community here in the Houston area as well and a lot of different things. But now you’ve stepped up and you’re a board member for the American Ad Federation-Houston. So tell me, sitting around that table, and I believe that was your first time around the table or am I mistaken about that?

Valentina Gomez:
No, it was my first board meeting. It was what? A couple of weeks ago, yeah.

Ray Schilens:
So, tell me about that. What drew you to Ad Federation-Houston and why are you there and what do you think so far?

Valentina Gomez:
Well, see? Like we were talking, education is all over. I think once I connected to that, I think everything came together. My interaction with AAF was through student conference.

Ray Schilens:
Oh, you’re part of the student conference as well. That’s cool.

Valentina Gomez:
Yeah. So the first time I actually attended, I went in as a student. Because I always, I’m super-nerd. I have tons of degrees and I was actually finishing an associate’s in web design because I wanted to learn more about the craft from that side of the desk.

Ray Schilens:
Sure.

Valentina Gomez:
So, I was invited to attend as a student. I’m like, “Why not? It’s been a while since I’ve been in an agency with a lot of people and let’s try it out.” And I thought it was fascinating what you guys were doing and then I connected with some people that were actually on the judging side of it. Then I was invited to judge the year after that.

Ray Schilens:
Wow.

Valentina Gomez:
Then I did a couple more times and then after a few, I was invited by Kay and Tammy to consider joining the board. And started getting more involved with the Federation, going to the events, meeting more people. I thought it was a great opportunity to give back to the community and to connect with a part of the industry that, as an entrepreneur, I was not as in touch with. Because entrepreneurship is a very lonely place. So I was trying to get back to that world and connect with a lot of new people and see what new things we could accomplish together.

Ray Schilens:
You’ve joined a club that is wildly creatively fun, active, and on the grow. And I’ve never seen… I’ve been on the board, what, a couple of years, I guess. So much activity, so many things going on. And Joe passing the torch to John. The things that are happening here throughout the year, it’s absolutely phenomenal. And it’s going to be a lot of fun and you’re going to have a lot of fun too as well. But one more time. “We build brands that rock the world. Bunker 58, a branding and design studio dedicated to working with influencers to grow their brand, monetize their message, and make a difference in our world.” Valentina, you are making a difference here in Houston and we love the fact that you’re here and we also love the fact that you took the time today to talk to us.

Valentina Gomez:
I’m so happy to be here.

Ray Schilens:
The person Ray saying thank you so much for listening to Feel The Ad Love.

Bruce Abbott:
Feeling that ad love, baby. At radioloungeusa.com you can subscribe to the podcast, also on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and a variety of other sources as well. Whatever your favorite podcast platform is, we’re there so you never get to miss a show.

Ray Schilens:
And while you’re at it, if you found value in this show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes or simply tell a friend about the show and share it on social media. That would be a very kind thing.

Bruce Abbott:
We would feel it, we would feel it right there.

Ray Schilens:
Copyright 2019 Radio Lounge. All rights reserved.

Bruce Abbott:
And join us next time for another episode of Feel The Ad Love.