23_Maryam Banikarim


Shed a (crocodile) tear for white bread–the bland, mushy staple of our youth is about to be outsold by tortillas. More than 50% of 15-year-olds in Los Angeles are now Hispanic; by 2020, nearly one in five Americans will be. Or, as Univision Communications’ most recent media campaign explains, in the words of a smiling little girl: “My dad says I have $763 billion of disposable income.” That number is growing at nearly triple the rate of the national average.

For a taste of Salsa Nation, dial in to Univision, the Spanish-language media conglomerate whose flagship network regularly pulls more viewers in L.A. than all the other major nets combined. “There is no media company comparable,” says Lee Westerfield, managing director and media analyst at Harris Nesbitt. But Univision is more than bodice-ripping telenovelas, World Cup matches, and the Latin Grammys: It is rolling out radio stations, runs a huge music label, and owns the country’s largest Spanish-language Web site. In fact, the company has helped overturn the whole idea of a Hispanic subculture. It’s a superculture now.

In the middle of it all is Maryam Banikarim, 37, a four-year Univision vet (and native of Iran) who was named chief marketing officer last June. “She’s extremely smart, she’s very direct, and she’s not afraid to experiment,” says Jamie King, senior vice president and managing director at Publicis & Hal Riney, which worked on the recent ad spot. “She exudes confidence and aggressiveness.”

Laughably, given that it’s in the media biz, Univision refused to make Banikarim available for an interview. But there’s no taking the shine off her numbers. The future is claro.FCS