Wieden & Kennedy is ramping up its six-month-old Latin America office with the hiring of a leading creative director from Argentina, Guillermo Vega, but the Sao Paulo-based shop hasn't picked up any business in the region yet from key global client Nike . In fact, last month Nike dropped a local agency in Mexico to return to its former longtime shop there, JWT Mexico.
From the Sao Paulo office, Wieden is already handling regional work for Latin America for Procter & Gamble and Levi's, and Marie Claire magazine and a sports cable channel are local clients, said Icaro Doria, the agency's executive creative director. Mr. Doria, who was a group creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, opened the office in November 2010 with Andre Gustavo Soares, the account services director at Sao Paulo agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, where he ran the Nike account.
"We believe Sao Paulo can do not only work for Brazil but for the region and for the world," Mr. Doria said. "The world is going to be looking at Brazil for the next few years, and that 's our goal, and how we staff the agency and how we look at work."
Mr. Vega, who joins as the Sao Paulo agency's third partner and co-executive creative director, was working in New York at Young & Rubicam, where he was regional creative director for Latin America and global creative director for Dell and Bacardi. (He and Mr. Doria, who was at Y&R New York before joining Goodby, worked together there). Mr. Doria said Wieden & Kennedy Sao Paulo has 25 employees now, and will hit 30 in the next six weeks.
"Our new head of production just came from Wieden & Kennedy Portland, and we hired a planner from New York to help us behave like a global agency and not just a Brazilian agency," Mr. Doria said. "And we've hired creatives from Argentina, Holland and Israel."
There's no sign yet of any business from Nike , a big global Wieden client in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
"We've been blessed with a lot of business and keeping busy and clients have been calling us," Mr. Doria said. "Nike would be a dream client but the reality is they have a different agency right now. We hope one day we'll be able to work with them in the region but right now we're not."
At the moment, Nike seems content with its local agencies in Latin America. Both BBDO in Argentina and F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi in Brazil are doing award-winning work for Nike . And in Mexico, Nike last month moved its local account back to JWT, after an unhappy relationship with local shop Anonimo that lasted just seven months. To help keep the Mexico business this time around, JWT has shored up its digital capability by hiring away from digital agency Grupo W two of Mexico's digital stars, Daniel Granatta, who will be chief creative director, and Pedro German Lopez as director of integrated strategy.
A Nike spokesperson in Mexico said "We decided to go back to JWT because the agency has shown it is capable of responding to all of our communication needs, to find creative solutions that work."
But no one should underestimate Wieden's track record on winning Nike business. The agency opened a Shanghai office in 2004 and within a year had ousted JWT as Nike 's agency for China. When Wieden opened, Nike 's then-marketing director for China, Frank Pan, told Ad Age that Nike was exploring the idea of working with Wieden there "but JWT is doing a good job in China so there are no plans yet to move the account. We have to wait and see how [Wieden's] organization develops."
A year later in 2005, Nike called a five-way pitch, including Wieden and its China agency of eight years, JWT, and promptly awarded the China business to Wieden's Shanghai office.
Fast forward six years, and Wieden & Kennedy Sao Paulo is off to a good start in Latin America.
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Contributing: Claudia Penteado