Lowe's Madrid Shop Plans New Agency Network

Lola's Goal Is to Become the BBH of the Latino World

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If Fernando Vega Olmos has his way, a brand-new network will be built around Latino creativity, and its name is Lola.
Lowe Latina
Mr. Vega Olmos, probably Argentina's most revered creative, will be chairman and spiritual leader of Lola (short for Lowe Latina), and Alex Pallete -- who was the leading planner in the U.S. Hispanic market before leaving the Vidal Partnership, New York, in December to return to his native Madrid, Spain -- is joining as chief strategic officer.

Although the troubled Lowe network has been closing offices and losing clients, the Interpublic Group of Cos. firm hopes the Latino agency will transcend geography and harness creative talent that will build business wherever Spanish is spoken-and beyond.

"The idea is to try to do something with Spain, U.S. Hispanic and Latin America," Mr. Pallete said. "Latin creativity travels very well. Latins have lots of values in common beyond geography and beyond language. It's more about Latin culture and shared pillars of identity."

Global campaigns
Mr. Vega Olmos has been doing global campaigns for years from his Lowe-owned Buenos Aires agency, Vegaolmosponce, and has spent the last two years in London as worldwide creative director on Unilever.

"If Bartle Bogle Hegarty is an English network, and Wieden & Kennedy is an American one, Lola could be someday the Latin one," Mr. Vega Olmos said. "This is my dream. For the moment, the reality is we want to put good talent together in Madrid, then the next stop is New York, then Mexico."

Lola Madrid opened in January, replacing the previous Lowe Spain office that was one of 19 Lowe agencies closed last year as Lowe moved to a hub structure. The Madrid office will handle local clients and serve as a cornerstone for Lola internationally. Agencies such as Amsterdam-based 180 have proved it's possible to do international creative work from one European office.

Non-siloed approach
The next step is Lola New York, which will be overseen by Nancy Hill, who joined Lowe last summer as CEO for North America. At least initially, Lola's U.S. Hispanic effort will draw on the Latinos already in Lowe's creative department, headed by Executive Creative Director Fernanda Romero, a Brazilian-supported by Messrs. Vega Olmos and Pallete.

"We're trying to keep it non-siloed," Ms. Hill said.

It doesn't hurt that one of Mr. Vega Olmos' biggest fans is Simon Clift, Unilever's global chief marketing officer and group VP-personal care. He also supports broader tapping of Latino creative talent.

"There's a freshness and energy about Latin American advertising, and yet it's kind of in a small world," Mr. Clift said. Unilever has run Vegaolmosponce's work from Buenos Aires in dozens of countries.

"Lola is an opportunity for Latin American talent to act on a larger stage," he said. "For Unilever, [Lola's Madrid office] in unenergetic, turgid Europe [is a chance] to have an offshore island of Latin American dynamism and creativity and optimism. There's a can-do attitude about Latin Americans. That exists in Asia, too, but it's not expressed in the quality of the advertising yet."

He said Unilever also intends to take the U.S. Hispanic market more seriously. "I don't think we'll expect to use Lola [in the U.S.] just as a Hispanic marketing agency," he said.

At Unilever, Argentines and Brazilians run a number of the company's billion-dollar master brands, such as Dove, Knorr and the "Dirt is Good" detergent platform. "After the Brits and the Dutch, the Argentines are the largest expat community in Unilever," Mr. Clift said.
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