Grupo Gallegos, Creative on Demand, La Comunidad and La Finca Creativa won Gold awards. LatinWorks, with a Silver and Bronze, is doing superb work for Miller Brewing Co. that led to a 2003 English-language assignment.
Just two years old, Grupo Gallegos was started in Long Beach, Calif., by John Gallegos, 36, a veteran of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Casanova Pendrill, with Casanova's creative director, Favio Ucedo, 38. Underscoring Grupo Gallegos' independence, Stan Richards, principal and founder of fiercely independent Richards Group, Dallas, took an equity stake in the Hispanic agency, and the two shops share some clients and back-office functions.
RICHNESS OF LANGUAGE
In the MetroPCS TV campaign that won this year's Best of Show, and a Silver for radio, Mr. Ucedo says he drew on the richness of the Spanish language with its endless synonyms for many words and the characteristic loquacity of Spanish-speakers (see Page S-2).
Grupo Gallegos also picked up a Gold for an American Red Cross blood drive that consisted simply of whacking one sleeve off a T-shirt.
"We couldn't do anything that cost money," Mr. Ucedo says. But he had to think of a way to persuade young people that donating blood is cool. The solution was to reward donors-and turn them into walking billboards-with T-shirts missing the sleeve part they would roll up for the needle. He even researched which sleeve to shear: the right one, because almost everyone donates blood from that arm.
"The biggest obstacle against an agency like ours is size because a [prospective] client may look at the top Hispanic agencies and define top by size," Mr. Gallegos says.
That hasn't stopped some clients. Earlier this year, Grupo Gallegos broke the first Spanish-language work done for Fruit of the Loom, and this month Messrs. Gallegos and Ucedo beat their former agency Casanova Pendrill and Zubi Advertising in a pitch for the estimated $5 million Energizer battery account. Mr. Gallegos forecasts his agency, with 20 staffers, will bill $30 million in 2004.
For Creative on Demand, the big break was becoming Volkswagen of America's first Hispanic shop last year in spite of no car experience. "One of the criteria was: Which agency feels like Volkswagen," says Daniel Marrero, 35, a copywriter who started COD in Coral Gables, Fla., with art director Priscilla Cortizas, 35.
DRIVERS WIN OUT
COD collected two Golds, a Silver and a Bronze for TV and radio work backing VW (see Pages S-2 and S-10). One of the agency's first challenges was to create a Spanish version of VW's unique "Drivers wanted" signature line.
"We went literally through 100 different lines," Mr. Marrero says. The chosen phrase, "Agarra calle," can be interpreted in subtly different ways, including "Hit the road," "Take off" and "Up and coming."
In Austin, Texas, LatinWorks started in the big time, entering with first client Miller Brewing Co. a fiercely competitive category where the hottest Hispanic agencies are pitted against one another in work for brewers like Anheuser-Busch, Heineken USA and now Miller.
It came naturally to LatinWorks Managing Partners Manny Flores and Alejandro Ruelas. The pair were VP-marketing development and director of ethnic marketing at Anheuser-Busch, where they observed other marketers using Anheuser-Busch as a benchmark for the Hispanic market and thought, "What if we did this on our own?" Mr. Flores says.
Their work-for marketers as diverse as Miller, Greyhound Lines and Diageo's Johnnie Walker-combines irreverent creative with thoughtful trend analysis.
VP-Creative Services Sergio Alcocer, 40, applied his deft hand to the "Storytelling" creative platform that Miller uses for the general market. LatinWorks' iteration takes some clever twists for Hispanics. In the Silver-winning "Tuna," the friends are present and part of the action as the guy thoughtlessly feeds expired tuna to a fluffy cat that immediately goes bald.
This year, the happy client asked Mr. Alcocer for a storytelling spot with an English-language version to run during the National Basketball Association finals. In "San Fermin," a running-of-the-bulls pastiche that will compete in next year's Hispanic awards, the same guy tells his story about escaping being gored, in English and Spanish spots.
In Spanish, the friends react a little differently, with more sexual banter, for instance, than in the English-language version. But they are similar enough that a person switching between Spanish- and English-language TV wouldn't feel any "disconnect" at seeing both versions, Mr. Alcocer says.
An unusual hybrid agency called La Comunidad is based in poolside villas in both Miami Beach and the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Started in November 2000 by Argentine brothers Jose and Joaquin Molla, the agency is at least as Latin American as it is U.S. Hispanic. Jose, the Miami brother, was previously a creative director on Nike International at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. La Comunidad won a Gold this year for an offbeat promotion to introduce Nordstrom to Hispanics in Miami (see Page S-11).
Tiniest of all is La Finca Creativa. The Hispanic arm of New York's Concept Farm consists of Miguel Fernandez, a 26-year-old Puerto Rican copywriter. His stark Gold-winning commercial for the New York International Latino Film Festival-simply a list of movie credits featuring Hispanics in stereotyped roles (see Page S-2)-led to a moving follow-up spot featuring Hispanics auditioning for parts and being forced to act out belittling stereotypes.