When Raul Cardos, former head of DDB, Mexico, this week announced his new agency, Anonimo ("Anonymous") he did so with a client you might have heard of: Nike. The iconic brand trusting its local marketing to, well, an anonymous agency that is part of a growing trend of Davids beating Goliaths in the Latin American market.
Anonimo, whose other famous member is former Leo Burnett executive Marco Colin, is well on its way to becoming the latest Mexican independent shop to give the network giants fits, part of a crop of challengers that look to larger markets such as the U.S. and the U.K. as places where small, nimble ad shops have thrived. Anonimo beat four major Mexican agencies in the Nike pitch, including WPP's JWT, which had handled the account since 1998. The independent agency will be in charge of Nike's three business divisions in Mexico: soccer, running and sportswear.
"We want our spirit to be different from the other Mexican agencies," said Mr. Cardos. "They are usually worried only about themselves. Creative men are used to being so egocentric that an agency that's more focused on their clients' needs than on their own name can come in handy."
Mr. Cardos also made it clear that they don't intend to work as a creative boutique. "I don't want to deal with clients that networks don't want for themselves. I want to steal clients from big agencies," he said. He also explained that his plans are to remain independent and that the agency structure won't hold more than 50 or 60 people. "We look up to Droga5, Crispin Porter & Bogusky and BBH in their beginnings."
This new move from former agency leaders only raises the alert in Mexico for networks. There are now at least five independent shops that have caught the attention of giant advertisers in the country. They recognize that a couple of years ago, big advertisers called them to their pitches just out of curiosity. Now, they call them because they really want them, and many times the challengers win.
Shops to watch out for
A few worth mentioning are ArrechederaClaverol, Grupo W and El Recreo. (Oveja Negra, or "Black Sheep," was counted among these until last year when it merged with the struggling Mexican office of Interpublic's Lowe.)
ArrechederaClaverol: This agency has the hard-sell portion of Volkswagen's local account. Other important accounts include Sony Entertainment Television and Diageo (Johnnie Walker, Pampero, Tanqueray, Buchanan's, Ciroc and Zacapa).
El Recreo: Last year Lalo González and Spooky Pérez's El Recreo won the Burger King account, which used to belong to Lowe. Two years before that, they won DHL, an account that was previously handled by Ogilvy.
Grupo W: This interactive agency works for Nike (Latin America), Unilever (Mexico and worldwide), HP, Hyundai, Coca-Cola, GM, Pfizer and Televisa, among other clients. They also do something that no other Mexican agency does: Since 2006, they regularly produce interactive work for foreign agencies, such as Wieden & Kennedy, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Crispin Porter & Bogusky and BBH).