Dieste Multicultural Shop of Year

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At Anheuser-Busch, catchy beer campaigns like the Budweiser frogs and "Whassup?!" run and run. In that tradition, there's now Luis, the Hispanic guy who in his first TV appearance was caught by his mother-in-law licking spilled Bud Light off a magazine centerfold.

Hispanic shop Dieste Harmel & Partners, Dallas, is shooting two more spots in both Spanish and English with hapless Luis in new compromising circumstances-and Anheuser-Busch is considering Luis for one of the beer marketer's coveted Super Bowl slots in February.

"Luis does the same weird-looking stuff when in reality he's just going to great lengths looking for beer," says Executive Creative Director Aldo Quevedo, 34, who is gleefully adding new family members including a sister-in-law to further humiliate Luis.

President Tony Dieste, 36, who started his agency in 1995 to raise the bar in the U.S. Hispanic market, has no designs on the general market but his agency's work tends to have crossover potential in clients' eyes because it packs a creative punch and draws on impeccable strategy.

The agency's combination of creative work, fast growth and strategic insight led Ad Age's editors to name Dieste Harmel the first Multicultural Agency of the Year.


Adding a multicultural shop to Advertising Age's annual lineup of best U.S. agency and global agency network was an easy decision, but the choice was harder. Other Hispanic agencies like Zubi Advertising, Miami, and the Vidal Partnership, New York, entered impressive creative work and showed strong growth. Several African-American shops including Publicis Groupe-backed Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, and Don Coleman & Associates, a Southfield, Mich., shop that is partly owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., also had particularly good years.

"Just as the economy started to go down, the Census 2000 data came out, which has been fantastic," says Managing Partner Warren Harmel, 51, whose name was added to the former Dieste & Partners at the end of 2001. Aware of the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic market, clients that slashed their general market budgets tended to leave their much-smaller Hispanic dollars untouched or even added to them, he says.

In 2001, agency billings grew more than 25%. The agency picked up PepsiCo-owned Quaker Oats Co.'s estimated $15 million U.S. Hispanic account and won additional business from PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola Co. and Frito-Lay, Hershey Foods, and the U.S. Air Force.

Dieste Harmel is the third-largest U.S. Hispanic ad agency and the largest independent. The two partners met in 1987 at Omnicom Group's Tracy Locke Partnership in Dallas, where Mr. Dieste moved from Mexico City, and Mr. Harmel arrived from his native South Africa. The two moved to a Hispanic agency, Ornelas & Associates, before starting their own shop with Mr. Quevedo, who is also Mexican. Although independent, Dieste Harmel opened with an unusual non-equity arrangement with Omnicom.

"They share a portion of our profits in exchange for back-office functions and provide a line of finance and credit," Mr. Dieste says.

"We were able to focus on creative and strategy without worrying about meeting payroll," Mr. Harmel adds. "They're our bank. Now we're pretty much self-financing."

This year the honors were endless. The Anheuser-Busch "Centerfold" spot won Best of Show at Ad Age's own Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards in September. That month Mr. Dieste was named Hispanic Agency Executive of the Year by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. And Dieste Harmel's campaign pairing Pepsi-Cola with Frito-Lay's Doritos was the Hispanic winner at the Association of National Advertisers' first multicultural awards in November.


Examining the snack market, Dieste Harmel discovered that Hispanic consumers eat 50% less salty snacks than the average in the general market and drink 80% more carbonated soft drinks, except the brand is usually Coke, not Pepsi. Challenged to link consumption of salty snacks with soft drinks, and to change the drink to Pepsi, the agency this year invented "El Reventon de Sabor," which translates roughly to a cool mega-party of fun and flavor. Two Latin music stars, Puerto Rico's Chayanne and Mexico's Lucero, were selected and proprietary music developed for a TV, radio and point-of-purchase campaign and grassroots parties with joint sampling and dancing. Doritos sales soared by 25% and Pepsi by 31% in urban stores in 10 Hispanic markets, Dieste says.

The agency also applied strategic thinking to Hyundai Motor America, targeting recently arriving Hispanics with a canny value proposition called Valor Hyundai that boosted 2001 model sales to Hispanics by 41.4% compared with total U.S. vehicle sales of 6.6%.

Thriving in an informal atmosphere at Dieste, staffers wear shorts in summer, ride scooters in the office and devote Friday evenings to salsa dancing and beer. Very hands-on with clients, Messrs. Dieste, Harmel and Quevedo all flew to New York for a new-business pitch just before Christmas.

"Come early, be loud, stay late," Mr. Dieste says.

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