Cuban Digital Marketing: Navigating New Digital Waters – Cuba Study Group

Cuban Digital Marketing: Navigating New Digital Waters

The digitization of society in Cuba has been increasingly spoken
about in recent years as part of a broader digitization project at a national
level that includes all sectors of the economy. This project has come to
revolutionize the technology industry with the expansion of communications
services and access to the Internet. The massive installation of base stations
to improve range and mobile coverage, the incidence of Wi-Fi hotspots,
navigation rooms, the Nauta Hogar service, and more recently – since December
2018 – the integration of mobile data services to the height of 4G technology
finally changed the dynamics related to connecting to networks in Cuba. This
digital scenario has also allowed for new, productive routines to flourish within
the entrepreneurship sector.

The scope – although still insufficient – of the
increasingly affordable internet in Cuba was a necessary foundation for the
emergence and growth of marketing agencies, advertising spaces, and
communication groups in the private entrepreneurship sector. Before long, home-grown
applications and made-in-Cuba digital solutions were being created, in addition
to sites that specialize in news about technology, cinema, society, criticism,

In an environment where there is already a competitive
dynamic, there are established guidelines in digital marketing businesses
regarding the type of clients who hire them, although their base mostly
coincides with the promotion of products and services, as well as seeking growth
on digital social networks. It is evident that the Cuban private sector grew
during the last decade after the economic opening promoted by the government, and
with it, a new type of corporate culture emerged: marketing and advertising.

Examples of these new ventures are Cuban agencies or
companies such as Light Vision, Gerbet Estudios, High Vista Promotions,
and JYD Solutions[RH1] .
They are the leaders in terms of practices, organization, and work experience
with large groups of clients.

A survey[1] [RH2] carried
out in 2019 to a group of entrepreneurs by fourth-year journalism students from
the Faculty of Communication at the University of Havana, shows that the Havana
municipalities with the most business offices linked to digital marketing and
advertising are Plaza de la Revolución, Playa, Marianao, and Old Havana.

Another fact to consider from this survey is that the number
of workers hired by these digital marketing agencies ranges between eight and twelve
members. Of the total businesses contacted, 60% of these define themselves as
digital solutions or service agencies in different areas: applications, web
support, digital marketing, and IT.

In terms of time of existence, 40% started their companies
less than two years ago, and these cases correspond to the increasing
integration of technology and the new electronic payment facilities.

With these new connectivity options, to succeed in the Cuban
entrepreneurial sector, having a page on Facebook, Instagram, and a WhatsApp
Business account are almost imperative in the race for service sales and recognition.
Similar to the idea of having ​​mass networking groups on Telegram and WhatsApp
is the idea of ​​selling customer products instantly through these outbound

According to the personal experience of David Tavares,
co-founder and current CEO of JYD Solutions, which has been active since
September 2011 with more than 12 services, digital marketing is no longer
foreign to Cubans despite its limitations. JYD, a name made up of the initials
of its creators, has captured from its range of clients all types of interests
including cinema, visual arts, and culture in its all-encompassing expression.
This company specializes in advertising and SEO campaigns, image design, as
well as in the development of digital structures with experience in the Cuban
market. As a team, they are made up of designers, programmers, journalists, and
communicators. Its main offerings include graphic design, web development, and
mobile applications, as well as content management, both for the web and for
social networks.

In terms of good news in the promotion of new teleworking
practices in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, JYD initiated and carried out a
digital campaign to promote the proper use of social networks, as well as to
offer recommendations related to entrepreneurs, useful tools for working from
home, and messages of social good. With those skills, the agency incorporated
professional competencies to interact and engage with the entrepreneurial
community in collaborative environments.

The history of High Vista dates to 2014. Their office
continues as it did almost seven years ago in the capital’s Vedado neighborhood,
but it already has more than six types of business within the same agency:
investments in cryptocurrency, remittances to Cuba, sales of houses, promotions
on social networks, and the dissemination of content on messaging platforms.
The average age of the High Vista (HV) team does not exceed 26 years and has
the challenge of serving a greater number of clients with a wide diversity in their
work content. For its founder and leader Roger Juaristi Guede, the time
invested in this company has been a part of a personal project that has not
stopped growing. HV currently manages more than 100 clients and owns the
largest Facebook group platform in Cuba. In addition, they created Islagram, a
social space for marketing, advertising, and classified ads that operates
through Telegram with about 100 groups of approximately 600,000 members.

Other businesses or ventures that are representative of Cuban
digital marketing are the “Seo in Cuba”
team, a EBM multidisciplinary team focused on solutions for foreign companies
with capital in Cuba, and the Markecubano
site. All these projects also offer a portfolio of services that include web
development packages, social networks, SEO, SEM, brand branding, and
comprehensive design.

From a panoramic view of this varied ecosystem, the
possibility of using a local network or intranet within work offices does not
disappear. Currently, closed groups within Facebook, WhatsApp, Signal and
Telegram are used for communication between members. Sometimes, there is the
exception of adding a specific client who is given a voice in these virtual
spaces. With the era of mobile data, calls via social networks have become more
feasible, and as well as sharing multimedia information in real time among
associate members.

Digital marketing in Cuba has laid its first foundations in cyberspace. Its uses and practices have evolved hand in hand with the technological changes that have arisen in the country and the increased training of professionals from university environments and from specialized workshops on the subject. This has generated an interesting environment in the need for hypermedia[2] and techno-social[3] improvement on an Island that is navigating at a different pace through virtual waters.

María Lucía Expósito is a paper journalist and poet. She writes about technology, film, literature, and other good herbs. She is a photographer without manuals. She investigates issues about social and environmental journalism. She lives in Havana.

Illustration by Wimar Verdecia Fuentes. Find him on twitter @FuentesWimar

[1] This
survey is part of the final work for the class “Cuban Economy” as part of the
journalism curriculum in its fourth year. The author of this work was one of
the members of this project that was created from the data in the survey.

[2] The
term hypermedia serves to designate the set of methods or procedures to write,
design or compose content that integrates media such as text, image, video,
audio, maps and other emerging information media in such a way that the result
obtained, in addition, has the possibility to interact with users. Source:

[3] Contemporary
concept that refers to an innovative development proposal based on the
dissemination of solutions to essential problems.

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