Presiding over one of the biggest U.S. Hispanic creative departments, with 17 staffers, VP-Creative Director Pablo Buffagni, 31, started as an 18-year-old office boy in the media research department of WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson in Buenos Aires. He spent five years until 1998 at Lautrec Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi during that Buenos Aires agency's heyday, progressing from junior copywriter to creative director.
When Chairman-CEO Ernest Bromley sought someone to lead his creative department with experience as a Latin American creative director who had worked on U.S. brands, Mr. Buffagni's name came up. He had worked on business like Clorox Co., McDonald's Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.
He also had won stacks of international creative awards. Mr. Buffagni bided his time at a local Argentine shop during the seven months it took to secure his U.S. visa and arrived in San Antonio in June 2000.
'ONE OF THE HARDEST YEARS'
"Last year was one of the hardest in my life," Mr. Buffagni says. "It was like learning everything again. How clients work here, how the Hispanic market works and all the changes like the census."
Right now the U.S. Hispanic market is the prime destination for the sophisticated but recession-hit Argentine ad community. In past recessions, Argentine creatives flocked to Spain.
"The market is changing so much," Mr. Buffagni says. "There's not any more the sense of the Hispanic market as a satellite to the general market, where they do campaigns and we have to adapt them. We work from the beginning as a team."