Mercado McCann Opens as Global Creative Hub in Argentina

Vogue for Tapping Latin American Creatives to Lead International Units Grows

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McCann Worldgroup is partnering with well-known Argentine creative Martin Mercado to open an international creative hub in Buenos Aires called Mercado McCann. Mr. Mercado, and the team of four people who are coming with him, worked at Y&R Argentina until very recently.

Martin Mercado
Martin Mercado

Mercado McCann follows a similar move in November 2012 in Spain, where McCann teamed up with another Argentine creative, Leandro Raposo, to set up an international creative hub in Barcelona called Cyranos/McCann Worldgroup. Cyranos works with marketers like Coca-Cola, and Mercado McCann hopes to do the same, as well as handle local and regional assignments.

Mr. Mercado joined Y&R Argentina as creative director six years ago and departed in July amid much speculation about what he would do next. He became notorious two years ago for creating a spot for the Argentine government in which an Argentine athlete was sent to the Falkland Islands to train for a week for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The provocative idea was that the athlete was training on Argentine soil, since Argentina has long claimed the Falkland Islands belong to their country, and not the U.K.. The controversial spot created a diplomatic incident, with complaints from the U.K. government, an appeal by Y&R for the Argentine government to stop running the ad, and Argentina's refusal.

Mr. Mercado is joining Mercado McCann with four others who all held similar positions at Y&R Argentina: Diego Tuya and Dario Rial as executive creative directors; Agustin Coste as account service director; and Production Director Agustin Borgognoni.

McCann isn't the first agency network to try to harness for international clients the creativity found in several key Spanish-speaking markets. Three creatives from Ogilvy Latin America opened the David agency in 2011 in Argentina and Portuguese-speaking Brazil, with a third office opening now in Miami, where David works for Burger King and Coca-Cola.

And in Spain, Lowe & Partners Worldwide started a Spanish-led creative hub called Lowe Latina in Madrid.

Other networks are putting Latin Americans in charge of their global creative product. Pablo del Campo was named worldwide creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi in March, after 14 years of running the agency he founded in his native Argentina, Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi. And Jose Miguel Sokoloff, co-chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe SSP3 Colombia, a former winner of Ad Age's International Agency of the Year, chairs Lowe's Global Creative Council. At BBH, Alexandre Gama, CEO of Neogama/BBH in Sao Paulo, succeeded John Hegarty as the network's global chief creative officer in 2012.

Cyranos/McCann's work includes an effort called "Pay Per Laugh" to help a comedy theater group in Spain boost revenue by setting ticket prices based on how much audience members laugh during the performance. Cyrano's Coca-Cola work has also been praised, including a stunt last year from Coke's ongoing anti-obesity campaign, in which people answered an ad offering "magic pills" that would help them lose weight but in reality their friends and family collaborated on pranks that forced them into strenuous workouts.

The Cyranos name was inspired by the character made famous in the nineteenth-century play "Cyrano de Bergerac" for whispering persuasive words to a rival suitor to help him woo the woman they both loved. Supposedly, McCann's Cyranos are client whisperers with the right brand message for consumers.