Clients now "call Barcelona [for creative input] like Paris or New York," said Jaume Armenter, client service director at McCann-Erickson, Barcelona.
Tiempo/ BBDO did such a good job last year for Darmstadt, Germany-based Wella in Spain, for example, that the Madrid shop and two German BBDO offices were asked to create ads for Wella Color hair coloring mousse. The ads break internationally this month.
Cereal Partners Worldwide, the Moujin, Switzerland-based joint venture between Nestle and General Mills, liked the McCann Barcelona office's 1993 Nesquik cereal campaign. The Spanish effort mixed kids and a cartoon rabbit. So this year, new spots using the same motif will appear in at least eight markets.
And Young & Rubicam's Barcelona office this year won pan-European work on tires for Milan-based Pirelli; yogurt for Danone, Paris; and Isostar sports drink for Sandoz, Basel, Switzerland.
Bolstered by the country's 20 Lions won at last year's Cannes International Advertising Film Festival, Spain's creative reputation is burgeoning. Spain is the only country to capture Cannes' Grand Prix twice in the past five years, and fest watchers wonder whether another win is possible at this year's competition, starting June 20.
The country is also alone in twice winning Advertising Age's International Agency of the Year honor, begun in 1984. Casadevall Pedreno & PRG was honored this year and Contrapunto in 1990.
As a creative force, Spain now ranks "in the top three, no question," with the U.K. and U.S., said adman Charles Hendley.
Mr. Hendley was so convinced of Spain's potential that this year he took the creative director post at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Espana. Mr. Hendley had been creative group head at London's top creative agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
Clients "are including us [in Spain] more all the time" when looking to creative resources of the European shops in their agency stables, said Miguel Garcia Viscaino, creative director and assistant managing director of Tiempo/BBDO. "Five years ago, they didn't include us-ever."
Tiempo/BBDO's Wella Color spot shows the downside of an 18-year-old's life. Pictures flash of her bratty brother, annoying cousin, boyfriend's unpleasant mother and battered old car as a voice-over explains, "There are lots of things you can't change. Fortunately you can change yourself."
The spot ends with her whizzing through five hair color changes.
McCann's Barcelona office this year beat other network shops in a competition for a TV, print and outdoor campaign for Martini & Rossi's Martini Rosso sweet vermouth, breaking this month in Europe and South America.
"McCann in Barcelona is one of the McCann agencies that best understands how Martini works," said Jose Manuel Barcelo, Martini & Rossi marketing director.
But Spain still has one drawback. Unlike Europe's other major markets, the country must overcome the handicap of having few native multinational marketers, such as Iberia Air Lines of Spain, Telefonica and SEAT.
Client "headquarters feel more comfortable with the agency close by," said Jorge Villena, creative director at Bassat, Ogilvy & Mather, Barcelona.