AgenciesBrandsDigital ContentFeaturesNewsHow Maria Teresa Hernandez and Mirriad are using virtual product placement to drive revenue for diverse-owned media

Mirriad is breaking ground with the first diverse-owned and diverse-targeted virtual product placement marketplace.
Byonce TyusMarch 13, 2023

Marketing and advertising agency Mirriad is breaking ground with the first diverse-owned and diverse-targeted virtual product placement (VPP) marketplace.

Once a post-production visual effect company in Hollywood that used this same technology in films like the Black Swan, Mirriad is now expanding to open a new lane of marketing resources for their clients and the industry.

“What’s cool about what we do is that, since it’s digital, it doesn’t have to be just placing products,” said Maria Teresa Hernandez, head of Mirriad’s Multicultural Marketplace and the Brand Partnerships SVP. “It can be so much more because we’re mimicking the real world.”

As traditional product placement – which involves a large budget – becomes restricted in available resources, BIPOC, LGBT+ and other diverse groups looking for marketing strategies and promotional exposure are oftentimes suffering.

Using the technology that was developed previously as a way to create a new format of marketing, Mirriad is solving the problem by expanding its digital resources to diverse-owned and diverse-targeted media groups – a priority for the agency, Henandez says.

Examples of virtual product placement from a presentation by Mirriad

“This is where [VPP] can help scale those pledges and initiatives towards diverse media, through in-content,” she said. “It’s empowering the media community in mass. It’s blanketing the whole industry.”

Currently, Mirriad has partnered with groups such as The Shade Room, Ebony, Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat, and Asian-owned 88 Rising. Overall, the agency – which works as an extension of the owners’ sales teams – has more than 60 diverse owners and more than 100 media owners.

“I’m just the tech, but I’m representing dozens and dozens of media owners,” Hernandez said.

VPP also extends to the music industry, connecting artists of color to major brands and companies. Lexus, for example, used VPP to be part of Colombian artist’s Maluma music video.

As Mirriad grows and expands its technology, Henandez says other agencies and industry giants should take this as a sign to do more.

“The sirens are blaring, the rally calls have been happening. The time is now,” she said. “The genie cannot go back in the bottle, and that’s my biggest fear. Collectively, as a community in this industry, I think we’re all holding each other accountable.”

As for what’s next for Mirriad, Hernandez says awareness and exposure are key to getting VPP on everyone’s radar. Though it’s major and ground-breaking, Mirriad is a small company within the United States. It’s going to take noise to bring attention, something Hernandez is more than comfortable with.

This isn’t her first time making waves, either. Hailing from inner-city Chicago, Hernandez worked hard to enter a field where little Latina representation exists and climbed the ladder to where she is today.

Now a two-time honoree at Cynopsis’ Top Women in Media and part of The Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), Hernandez is determined to hold herself and others in the industry accountable for diversity and inclusion efforts.

“I realized, as a woman of color myself, I had a responsibility and so much excitement to say, ‘I can use this technology to do some good for the industry’,” she said. “I’m fighting for them. I’m out there on the market talking to advertisers.”

Byonce Tyus

Byonce Tyus is a reporter for Marcom Weekly covering industry news, advertising conferences, and diverse-owned media trends.

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