In July, Patrón named its first culture agency of record, a small shop named More than Words. It's a trend that's gaining traction—in August Taco Bell named Cashmere, now part of Media.Monks, as its culture AOR—but the role of a culture agency isn't often clearly understood.
Now, months into their relationship, Ad Age discussed with both the agency and the client the work More Than Words (MTW) is doing for Patrón. While MTW's remit includes Latin-influenced projects for the tequila brand, the marketer is taking a broader view of culture.
“Culture motivates what society thinks, does, consumes and talks about, paving the way for the future,” said Allie Bostwick, global director of communications, culture and brand partnerships. “Working with MTW as our culture agency is about making sure we have the right opportunities at the table and are focused on how our brand can strategically engage and align with specific pockets of culture.”
Added Bostwick: “MTW works hand-in-hand with my team to look at the levels of culture, macro trends, and then find ways for our brand to connect with consumers, whether that’s in moments that bring forth dialogue and connection through shared interests or by leveraging partners across various verticals to spark new ways for a brand to exist within them.”
While the small agency of seven people has only been around since 2018, it has been involved in a number of collaborations and projects that involve high-profile artists such as Adidas’ sneaker collaboration with Latin star Bad Bunny, which sold out in minutes, and Anheuser-Busch InBev's Michelob Ultra 2019 Super Bowl ad from FCB Chicago that featured Latin artist Maluma. This year, MTW helped bring Mexican-American pop star Becky G to appear in a regional Super Bowl ad for the same brand created by Wieden+Kennedy New York.
The agency also helped launch HBO Max’s Latinx-focused audience initiative called HBO "Pa’lante!" last year, which translates to “Forward!” in English. Part of that effort included MTW launching a pop-up activation in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan called “House of Bachata” that included holograms of Bachata icon Romeo Santos as a promotion for his shows on the streaming platform.
Ad Age spoke with MTW’s co-founders Diana Dotel and Matt Ferrigno about their background in the entertainment industry, what being Patrón’s culture AOR entails, the keys to successful brand partnerships, and more. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
How did your agency get started?
Diana Dotel: Before we joined forces in 2018 to form MTW agency, I worked primarily as a promoter. I focused on the expertise in Latin in music and Matt was on the record label side and artist management side, working on brand partnerships for a lot of artists across genres. So that's when we saw that there was an underrepresentation. I thought Latin artists didn't share the same opportunities on brand deals and even towards sponsorship. Latin artists were catching up when it came to ticket sales, but that was not aligning with endorsements or partnerships. So I saw a way to solve that problem head-on by educating brands on the power of Latin artists. Even before we incorporated, we landed the Maluma Michelob Ultra deal. It was the first of its kind and now in terms of the partnership, we're in the fourth year.
Matt Ferrigno: What was cool about that was that he was the first Spanish-speaking artist in a Super Bowl ad. It showed brands that they could put a Latin artist in general media ads and since then you've seen that a little bit more in the mainstream. What brought [Dotel and me] together is really having complementary skills. Her curating concerts and live experiences at the biggest magnitude and then myself spending my entire career working on brand partnerships for some of the biggest artists in the world from Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne to working at Maverick and working on stuff with Madonna.
Who are some of your biggest clients?
Dotel: The Romeo Santos work was something that was personal because I'm Dominican. That was with Warner Media and HBO. We still have HBO as a client. We're actually working on their new DC title called DMZ. We have an ongoing [sneaker collaboration] partnership with Bad Bunny and Adidas. On Feb. 9, the new [color combination] dropped which is beautiful. We also have the Becky G work with Michelob Ultra. We also have Amazon as a partner.
What role did you play in the Becky G Super Bowl ad?
Dotel: With Michelob Ultra, we are one of their partners through their music partnership with Synergy Productions, and we basically find their talent and build out their Latin piece. Quite honestly, even in the first year with Maluma, it was taking a risk at that time because he didn't have any music in English. But it was something that we knew would work. We pushed and we knew the power of Latin music, and it was successful. So when this year came around we had worked with Becky G before so we positioned Becky for that role.