While the markets of Southeast Asia beckon, it is Latin America, lost for a decade to unstable governments and triple-digit inflation, that's emerging as a top priority. These countries-with perhaps one exception, Brazil-have made real progress at putting their political and economic houses in order.
As a result, more agencies and their clients are solving the sticky problem of where to locate their Latin American headquarters by choosing the newfound Latino capital of Miami. An alternative to what often are seen as primitive intra-regional communications networks, Miami serves as a hub for sophisticated electronic mail and cellular phone systems into Latin American nations.
Now Young & Rubicam, while not the first to discover Latin America or its bustling new Florida base, has taken its regional approach a step further than other agencies by offering integrated communications, or one-stop shopping, in a Miami headquarters building that places under one roof Young & Rubicam Advertising, the Burson-Marsteller PR company, the Wunderman Cato Johnson direct marketing and promotion organization and Y&R's Hispanic agency, Bravo Group.
Joe DeDeo, Y&R vice chairman and chairman of Latin America, points out that this consolidation simply makes good sense organizationally; it supports clients' total communications objectives more efficiently.
Much of the recent activity in Miami can be traced to the optimism emanating from the completion or near-completion of a raft of trade pacts: not only NAFTA, but the Andean Pact, the Central American Common Market, Mercosur, Caricom and the like. Eventually, these agreements will convert the region into one big free trading zone of consumers with rising incomes and desires for goods and services that can improve their lives.
Agencies and marketers are banking on these changes to break the previous boom-and-bust cycles that gave rise to such quips as, "Latin America is the land of the future-and always will be." The future has come. It's now.