Lowe Raids Rival in Spain to Rebuild International Latin Shop

With Burnett's Chacho Puebla and Other New Hires, Lola Hopes to Attract Business Beyond Unilever

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Lowe and Partners' Madrid-based agency Lola raided a rival's management team and creative department in a second try at building a Latin shop that can compete for international business beyond the Unilever brands that dominate the agency.

Miguel Simoes, Chacho Puebla and Tura the dog
Miguel Simoes, Chacho Puebla and Tura the dog

Lola hired Chacho Puebla, an Argentine who was chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Iberia, as partner and creative managing director of Lola, along with four of his creative directors at Burnett. Mr. Puebla is from Argentina, and the four other creatives are from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain.

Michael Wall, CEO of the Lowe and Partners global network, said, "Chacho is a talented, energetic personality and he travels with an army -- we wanted the army as well."

The sixth hire is Miguel Simoes, president of Publicis Groupe 's creative agencies in Portugal and of group business development in Iberia. He joins as partner and managing director.

Lowe set up Lola in 2007, headed by leading Spanish-language creative Fernando Vega Olmos, with the idea of building an international Latino creative force. But Mr. Vega Olmos abruptly quit in late 2008 to join JWT as creative chairman for continental Europe and Latin America. To add insult to injury, JWT continued its own raid on Lola, and last year set up a Madrid-based Global Task Force led by Lola's former CEO Jean-Louis Roche, Chief Strategic Officer Alex Pallete and Global Creative Director Facundo Goldaracena.

Mr. Wall denied that the multiple defections to JWT affected Lola. He said, "None of us are irreplaceable, people picked up and got on with it, we didn't miss a beat."

But Lola has struggled to win international business beyond Unilever. Lola -- which stands for Lowe Latina -- created the launch campaign for Unilever's Magnum ice-cream bar in North America and Indonesia this year, as well as working on the Magnum brand in its more established European markets. The agency also handles Unilever's Cornetto and Rexona accounts.

"Unilever is a great breeding ground and a fantastic client, but Lowe needs to grow beyond Unilever," Mr. Wall said.

By recruiting a team of Latin American and Spanish nationals, Mr. Wall, who was previously CEO of BBDO Portugal, as well as a founder of Fallon London, and has a Portuguese wife, hopes to succeed this time in making Lola a European gateway to the fast-growing markets of Latin America. Mr. Puebla's hiring was announced in the Spanish trade press in July, and the sother five new hires are joining the agency this week.

Mr. Wall described Lola as "a Latin American shaped agency in Spain, which opens up a corridor for Latin American talent in Europe."

As well as trying to bring Latin creativity to international brands, Mr. Wall said the agency is linked to Lowe's agencies in Latin America, where Jose Miguel Sokoloff, chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe SSP3 in Colombia, was recently named president of Lowe's worldwide creative council, following the departure of global Chief Creative Officer Matthew Bull.

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