"Of course, it's aimed at 15-year-old kids," Moll says from the Miami Beach house that is the agency's office. "A lot of the things that kids think are cool are things that their parents don't like. We did the job so well that I think that goes for the jury, too. The average age was 40. But you just have to remember who your real audience is." Hence other spots, in which a man farts a Britney Spears tune, and a kid switches to porn when his mother barges into his room, so she won't know he's watching MTV.
Moll set up La Comunidad (translation: The Community) in summer 2001, and the timing was dreadful. He opened in Miami two months ahead of September 11, and his brother, Joaquin, launched a Buenos Aires office during Argentina's worst economic crisis. But two years later, the brothers have a staff of 20 in Argentina and another 10 in Miami. At Cannes, they learned that La Comunidad had been awarded the Volkswagen account in some 15 countries across Latin America.
It was vindication of Moll 's decision to leave Wieden + Kennedy after four years on Nike in Portland and Amsterdam to set up with his brother, who had remained in their native Buenos Aires but for a spell at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in London. Advertising is in their blood. Their grandfather launched Argentina's first agency 75 years ago, and their father also had his own agency. Jose Moll himself resisted advertising until the age of 25, having been a sailing instructor in Spain. He first joined BBDO in Buenos Aires and worked on Pepsi, Visa, VW and Nike before moving to Portland. He says he just had to leave Oregon. "I was paying a high price with my personal life there. Portland is a great place to be a tree. It rains the whole year." Another plus for Miami, he points out, is the fact that Crispin Porter + Bogusky's success helps all Florida admen to rise above the perception that they're nothing more than "tropical guys who spend all day at the beach." The agency does have mandatory meetings by the pool, though.
La Comunidad soon attracted the Sanyo and Aiwa electronics brands in Argentina. The first U.S. client was MTV, followed by Disney Latin America, Nordstrom and the Citibank Hispanic account. Now there's VW and Perry Ellis, for which La Comunidad does national advertising, too. Moll attributes this initial success to a clear-minded attitude toward the significance of strategic planning in advertising, and the sophisticated simplicity of the work itself. It is very evident in print and outdoor for Nordstrom and Aiwa, Sanyo and MTV. "We like clean things," he says. As for standing out from other Spanish-language shops, "Many Hispanic agencies just rely on the fact that they're Hispanic," Moll argues. "Many people have made a lot of money for many years and they don't want it to change. Agencies and their clients pretend to know everything, but we don't know everything. We employ planners to find out.
"There's a need for more honest and human relationships between agency and client; a need for smarter communications in the Hispanic market," he continues. "There's a lot of fear, because people don't know what they're doing here. When that happens, you stick to formulas. A lot of brands try to hold a mirror up to the Hispanic consumer, and say, 'We know who you are.' This is often wrong, because it often depends on a stereotype. You shouldn't tell people who they are but who they could be." As for La Comunidad, "we want to be the connection between American brands and Spanish-speaking consumers both in the U.S. and Latin America," he says. "We don't consider ourselves to be just a Hispanic agency. It just helps to justify the stupid English accent."