The agency, which handles Coca-Cola Co., DirecTV and Renault, is moving into content as marketers in Argentina increasingly turn to entertainment as a livelier alternative to traditional advertising to boost their brands. Last year, General Motors Corp. bankrolled a comedy starring its Chevrolet Meriva five-door family car. Unilever co-produced a reality show branded by its Lux soap, and Coca-Cola got its Quatro soft drink written into the script of a comedy set in an ad agency.
The Buenos Aires creative shop's first effort, "Asuntos Pendientes" ("Pending Affairs"), has gained a solid following since making its debut in prime time on No. 2 broadcaster Canal 13 last month. The hour-long program takes a fresh look at solved crimes by bringing together culprit and victim to tell their versions.
"We wanted to make a program that let the people involved say what they wanted to say without opinions from journalists or hosts," said Carlos Baccetti, VP of the Interpublic Group of Cos.-backed agency.
In one episode, the sisters of a victim and his alleged murderer went toe-to-toe. He was "incapable of murder," argued the sister of Alfredo Yabran, a purported Mafioso businessman who committed suicide after supposedly ordering the killing of a photojournalist, whose sister called Mr. Yabran "an assassin."
"In general, advertisers don't have a problem buying time on the program," said Diego Abadie, operations director of Havas' media specialist Arena Media Communications. "There is a risk some issues could be more sensational, but advertisers are buying as much time on the show as on the rest of the channel's programs."
Some ideas may not be attractive to marketers, he said. But if there's a potential audience, A&B will develop an idea like it has done with "Pending Affairs," working with a production company and recouping costs by taking a share of ad time sold during the program.
Coming next from A&B is "El Once," a police comedy set in a busy Korean and Jewish neighborhood in Buenos Aires.