Interview: Elena Sotomayor

In case you didn’t know, Cardenas Marketing Network (CMN) is one of the most influential marketing networks that specializes in bringing Latino (and multicultural) music festivals and sporting events to the masses.  They are responsible for events like  Gigantes, Daddy Yankee, Ana Gabriel, and Maná to name a few. CMN has been awarded the Billboard Latin Music Marketing Award for the third consecutive year, and Ms. Sotomayor had a whole lot to do with that.  Even The Wall Street Journal is raving about it!

Gozamos had a chance to speak with Elena regarding her role as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales at CMN, the role she plays alongside philanthropic co-founders Mr. Henry Cardenas and Singer, Marc Anthony of Maestro Cares  (a foundation that helps underprivileged and displaced children in Latin American countries) and how because of it, she often wakes up in New York City and goes to sleep in the Republica Dominicana.  Here’s what she had to say:

Elena, how long have you been with CMN?

I’ve been with the company for about 19 years, back when it was the mother company Cardenas, Fernandez & Associates (CFA); I left for a little while and got recruited back.

Tell me about the success that brought about  the third Billboard Award.

First, it’s been a very unique consent that The Billboard Awards have adapted to include marketing firms as contenders for an award.  We produce the concert series that entails seven concerts that occur pre-Billboard award ceremony and the musical artists who are nominated for an award partake as performers. This occurs to promote the artists and obviously to promote The Billboard Awards.  It’s a great opportunity and we are very happy to be part of it. The brands and concepts that we create are on a musical platform that bring about these great events that people enjoy attending; I am honored that we are recognized and awarded for our efforts.


Who was the talent behind Net10 Wireless/GIGANT3S tour?

Net10 is a fairly new client and our challenge was to come up with ways to speak to the consumer and push their brand by introducing it at retail and via music platform. GIGANT3S was an epic tour, an example of an event that doesn’t happen often.  You have three icons (Marco Antonio Solis, Marc Anthony and Chayanne on one stage, one night.  It’s not cheap to produce; it’s not easy to find and procure sponsoring but we made it happen and they are still touring.

Los GIGANT3S was enormously successful and you had a fantastic turn-out; what does it take to put an event like this together?

PASSION first and foremost, but most importantly it takes a lot of money.  It is not cheap to put something like this together.  If you don’t have the support and the sponsorship from the client, it’s not easy to put on.  To orchestrate an event like this- three masters of their craft on stage together collaborating the way they do!  It’s epic.  At the end of the day it takes the support of all of the artists, the sponsors, the client and the staff to make it happen.  We also want to make these events very valuable; if it were to occur every year, I think it would lose its glory.

CMN is a vehicle (in a sense) that delivers great musical events (among other things). Where are you guys taking Latin Artistry in the future?

That’s a really good question.  You know, everyday we struggle with finding new talent.  By all means new talent exists.  The question falls on the quality of such talent.  The Marc Anthony(s) the Vicente Fernandezes… the artists from back in the day – back in our parent’s days are very hard to find. As you know, the musical genres are changing in so many ways and while we are not losing by this change; we are losing touch with the more classical artists. To answer your questions, there is a bright future in music, I just think it’s going to be different and it’s going to target the new generation, and we as a marketing company  have to stay abreast with the new trends and changes.

I understand CMN’s Mr. Cardenas and Marc Anthony are co-founders of Maestro Cares. Tell me about that mission.

CMN is not only based in the U.S. we also market events in Latin America, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Costa Rica.  We supply Latino artists to their venues and work with their promoters and brands.  Therefore, by physically being present in these countries during these events, we saw hands-on the poverty level and the needs of our Latino children.  We then came to the realization that we needed to give more and help more.  So it started with our constant visits to Dominican Republic (because of how much time we spend there) and bringing along food, medicine, school supplies and clothing for these kids. Recently, Marc Anthony and Henry Cardenas partnered up and formed Maestro Cares.  This organization really emphasizes on helping these kids see their future and helping them along achieve the goals that were unachievable due to their extraordinary circumstances.  First thing we do is built an orphanage in La Romana to house boys that were displaced and/or homeless and move on from there with the same mission throughout Latin America.

Give me a brief summary of a typical work day. You get up have a coffee and….

Well, four cups is more accurate.  I don’t know where I am going to wake up the next day.  I don’t spend more than two to three days in the same city. My biggest goal is to introduce CMN to new clients through marketing and really let them know what we can do for them. Help them understand that we can elevate their brand. But overall it is a team effort and we keep each other challenged.

Did you die and go to job heaven?

(Laughter) Most days. Some days are really challenging and full of obstacles. I guess however, that if we didn’t have those challenges and obstacles it would be a boring job.

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