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Yeliza Centeio makes marketing moments that ‘move the world’

by | Sep 18, 2023

Yeliza Centeio, independent marketing consultant and expert in Hispanic marketing
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Yeliza Centeio still recalls the moment years ago when she discovered her professional calling. It was her freshman year of high school in Tyngsborough, Mass., and she was taking an exploratory class on marketing. The teacher presented the class with a case study about a 1960s marketing campaign for DeBeers diamonds.

At a time of burgeoning female empowerment, when women were joining the workforce and asserting their independence, DeBeers saw a decline in the market for diamond rings. Women weren’t pining for engagement rings; they were taking control of their professional lives alongside men.

“So they decided to turn the engagement ring into a ring with a completely different meaning,” Yeliza says. “They called it the ‘right-hand ring.’ It’s basically a ring that you put on your right hand, and it can be a diamond or any stone of your preference, but it’s meant to look like an engagement ring to yourself.

“It symbolizes that you are an independent woman, that you can make your own money and have your own career. And the slogan that DeBeers used—which I still remember and totally love—was ‘The left hand rocks the cradle, the right hand rocks the world.’”

Yeliza says she still gets chills when she talks about this campaign because that was the moment when she knew what she wanted to do with her life.

“I realized that I want to create these memorable campaigns that can move the world in a completely different direction, to influence behaviors and shifts in demographics. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”

Yeliza vowed that one day she’d rise in the marketing ranks, and when she became a senior leader, she would get her own right-hand ring. And she did.


Creating authentic marketing for Hispanic women

Throughout her career, Yeliza worked her way up the chain of command and learned how to craft dynamic messages for the products she worked on. Eventually, she landed at a national retail company for women’s fashion, where she carved out a personal niche: marketing for the Hispanic community.

“The company as a whole knew how to market to this general market—who tend to be more white and older (over the age of 40), and plus-sized,” she says. “But there was no story for the Hispanic woman. She’s not the same, so we had to do a lot of research in terms of what her attributes are like.”

Yeliza’s research led to findings about the traits of a potential Hispanic customer: She was much younger, and while she was also plus-sized, she wanted to address her curves differently. She didn’t want to cover up her body but rather to show off her shape.

“So the very boxy shirts that the company was known for weren’t going to work for the Hispanic woman,” Yeliza says. She partnered with the merchandising teams to refine the type of clothing displayed in geographic areas with a large Hispanic population, asking the question, “How does she wear the style?”

Yeliza’s team also made sure that there were mannequins reflecting different skin colors, and that they were styled more the way that she’d want to be styled. “We tested this approach in three markets, Miami being the biggest,” she says. “And it did so well that it got extended to the entire east coast with plans to extend into the west coast.”


Bringing her expertise as an independent marketer

While Yeliza has worked both in-house and at agencies, she’s found that working independently is the best fit for her in her current season of life. She loves the flexibility that consulting affords her, especially since it allows her to be around for her kids more.

The consulting work she does as a Rosie at a global telecommunications company has been especially rewarding. Although she does “a little bit of everything,” she’s also leading some of the company’s bigger Hispanic-related marketing initiatives.

“For example, right now I’m leading the Hispanic Heritage Month project, which is pretty massive with a large budget and a lot of eyeballs on it,” she says.

“I don’t want it to come across like, ‘Hey, our company is checking off a box here. We, too, value Hispanics!’ If we’re going to stand by this, we have to make it real.”

Her current project is a campaign that showcases two influential Hispanic women who are rising stars in the community. “One of them is on track to be the first Hispanic astronaut in space,” she says. “And the other is an extremely huge podcaster who talks about self-love and all the things we need to hear in this day and age with mental health being such a huge priority.”

Yeliza explains that within the Hispanic community, seeking help for mental health issues has often been deemed as a weakness. The influencer that Yeliza is highlighting has made significant inroads within the community to change that attitude.

Speaking to We Are Rosie on the eve of the big shoot, Yeliza explains that the plan is to create ads for digital, social, and streaming audio. “They’ll showcase these women in their natural habits.” For the first woman, her team has eveb built a stage set that looks like a space station.

The end goal is to raise awareness for both the company and the women.

“One of the things we thought about as we were coming up with this campaign concept was, ‘What does an accolade look like in today’s society?’” Yeliza says. She notes that in the past, accolades might have come in the form of statues or magazine covers. But today, they’re social media numbers.

“We are going to be indirectly impacting their numbers in a positive way, helping them to create their legacy,” she says.

But for Yeliza, it’s just another day of impacting culture and elevating ideas through the magic of marketing.

Jennifer Graham Kizer is a features writer and content creator who provides editorial services to print and digital publications, schools, churches, companies and individuals. Her work has appeared in over a dozen national magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Health, TV Guide, Parenting, and others. Find samples of her writing at She can also be found on LinkedIn.

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