Sergio Alcocer, one of the best-known U.S. Hispanic creative directors, is launching an agency called Rest of the World, in a return to the ad industry following the end of his non-compete agreement with Omnicom Group.
Mr. Alcocer left Omnicom-backed LatinWorks at the end of October 2015 after 16 years at the Hispanic shop where he was president and chief creative officer.
"I always wanted to keep doing advertising, and multicultural advertising is what I love," he said. "Rest of the World is a multicultural mission. I want to bring Latin-inspired creative to the mainstream."
The agency's logo is a harmonious palette of skin tones, representing America's diversity.
Mr. Alcocer describes Rest of the World as "an agency founded in and for the Trump era."
"For the next four years companies and brands will need to take a social stance—do you embrace multicultural marketing, or consider it a threat," he said. "I think people will favor brands that embrace their beliefs. I'm planning an agency deeply rooted in today's culture, but acknowledging that today's culture is deeply divided, rather than living in a marketing world that ignores what's happening on the street."
Mr. Alcocer said he is starting the agency in Austin, where he lives and was based with LatinWorks, and that he envisions an office with not more than 10 or 15 people, and a network of collaborators. "I'm in conversations with a couple of more senior people to join me as partners," he said.
He is also setting up "strategic alliances" for Rest of the World; two so far are with PR and social media agency Boden in Miami, and a Latin American company called Bitacora Social started by former Procter & Gamble executive Othon Garcia that does deep dive social research for senior decision makers.
Mr. Alcocer said he is designing an agency to be competitive in 2017 and work well on a project basis. "Agencies have struggled with technology and social change, and fast-paced clients," he said. "Bureaucracy kills creativity. I want an agency that's very horizontal and flexible, an agency of strategists, planners, and content providers. It will be very collaborative, not just with clients but with agency networks."
There has been widespread speculation about what Mr. Alcocer would do next after his enforced sabbatical year. He said he has traveled a lot with his wife, as the year outside the industry coincided with the couple becoming "almost" empty nesters, and continued to work on a PhD in Latino studies he's been pursuing at the University of Texas "to complement my practical experience of marketing to Latinos in the U.S. with an academic framework."
During his 16 years at LatinWorks, Mr. Alcocer was behind creative that sweeps award shows, like the long-running Cine Las Americas campaign for a Latin American film festival, and brand-building work for major marketers, and has been a judge twice at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Under his creative leadership, LatinWorks was named to Ad Age's Agency A-List of the best U.S. agencies and has been Ad Age's Multicultural Agency of the Year more than once.
During his year away from the industry, there were many "Sergio spottings" as industry execs saw him or heard about his travels to Cuba, to South by Southwest, and even a vinyl record store he owns in Mexico City. (Mashable named Discos Mono, with a collection curated personally by Mr. Alcocer, one of 12 unique record stores around the globe).
As he starts Rest of the World, Mr. Alcocer said he was inspired by "The New Colossus" poem on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, which includes the famous lines "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." In marketing terms, he sees it as an invitation to the table.
"There's a lot of talent that's waiting for the opportunity to shine that's lost in the ranks of general market agencies," he said. "I want Rest of the World to be the place they do the best work of their lives. Strangely I think the next four years will see a boom in multicultural. There's no longer a space in the middle."
So far he's been working on a couple small projects, including a campaign to promote U.S. tourism to Mexico's Baja California region and an effort to launch Mexican sports brand Voit in the U.S. soon, and is involved in a few pitches. (The agency's website RestoftheWorld.Agency will go live early next week).
"I'm very excited about going back to square one, in every sense," he said.