"Ad schools don't supply us the way they do general-market agencies," said agency principal John Gallegos. "We're recycling the same folks, and [general-market agencies] are constantly poaching. We're not trying to become a multinational. But sometimes people can't or won't relocate, and there are also visa issues. So why not test opening an office that will service us?"
U.S. Hispanic agencies may grow 20% or 30% a year, but they can't hire fast enough, especially Spanish-speaking creatives. They import creatives from all over Latin America, but visas are slow and limited in number, and young but promising teams may not yet have the track records to qualify for visas.
In Argentina, the hottest and most-awarded Spanish-language ad market, Grupo Gallegos is starting with two creatives in their mid-20s, Fernando Fryd and Lulu Reynal, and is about to hire two art directors. Sebastian Djain, the agency's first interactive director, will split his time between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles.
The logistics are horrendous, with a four-hour time difference and 15-hour nondirect flights between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles. But the plans hatched by Mr. Gallegos, Chief Creative Officer Favio Ucedo and Group Creative Director Juan Oubina -- both Argentines -- call for the Buenos Aires creatives to make frequent, extended visits to the U.S. And from their office in Buenos Aires, they can have video chats on their computers with U.S. colleagues and participate in client meetings and presentations. Like other creative teams at the agency, they will report to Mr. Oubina and work on all his clients, starting with Comcast.
Mr. Gallegos said clients are happy the agency is adding talent, as long as the Buenos Aires creatives understand their brands and U.S. Hispanic consumers. To that end, the agency will provide extra immersion training to the Buenos Aires teams.
"People will feel like they work here on another floor," Mr. Gallegos said. And if Buenos Aires works out, he said a Mexico City office may be next.