Conill's Pablo Buffagni Joins Hispanic Shop Grupo Gallegos

Chief Creative Officer Known for Innovative Media Integration Moves to Independent Agency

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Pablo Buffagni, one of the most innovative creatives in the U.S. Hispanic market, is jumping to independent Latino shop Grupo Gallegos as chief creative officer from Conill, Saatchi & Saatchi's Hispanic agency, where he held the same job.

Pablo Buffagni
Pablo Buffagni

Mr. Buffagni starts at the Los Angeles shop in mid-April,reporting to founder and CEO John Gallegos. Favio Ucedo, who co-founded Grupo with Mr. Gallegos in 2001, remains as executive creative director.

Mr. Buffagni is often behind the campaigns featuring the most creative use of media in the Hispanic market. He started his career in the media department of JWT in his native Argentina in the late 1980s.

Hiring Mr. Buffagni, also an early leader in integrating digital throughout Conill's work, could be a game-changing move for Grupo Gallegos, which already has a high creative profile. With about 85 staffers, it is the 11th-largest Hispanic agency, with revenue of $14.5 million in 2010, according to Ad Age 's Hispanic Fact Pack. The agency's biggest clients are Comcast, Target and the California Milk Processor Board.

No. 7 Conill was named Ad Age 's Multicultural Agency of the Year in 2011 and one of its 10 Standout agencies this year.

Mr. Gallegos pointed out that Mr. Buffagni is known not just for winning creative awards but for his leadership in media integrations, digital and social-media work, and nontraditional campaigns.

"This is about the future and where we want to go," Mr. Gallegos said. "We're independent, and we can push the envelope, and clients come to us for that ."

Mr. Buffagni said he likes Grupo's independent spirit.

At Conill, Mr. Buffagni helped Toyota, one of its major clients, recover from a decline in sales and reputation with the simple idea of linking Latinos' pride in their heritage with pride in being a Toyota owner. Conill crafted 100 different decals with the names of Latin American countries and cities, offering them free on a Spanish-language Toyota Facebook page. More than 312,000 stickers for cars were given out in the campaign, "Somos muchos Latinos. Somos muchos Toyota" ("We are many Latinos. We are many Toyota owners").

An earlier Toyota campaign, "Is That the Lineman?" was an unusual media integration that became an award winner for Mr. Buffagni and Conill. During a televised soccer tournament, Toyota ran videos along the bottom of the screen that appeared to be part of the live game but featured participants, such as the lineman, who appeared to be distracted by a Toyota billboard on the field.

At the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity two years ago, Mr. Buffagni won the first Gold Lion in the film category for a U.S. Hispanic agency. The winning spot was for Argentina's New Line Cinema film festival. Mr. Buffagni had just left the festival for a brief vacation in Italy and had to drive back to the south of France to collect his award.

Mr. Buffagni joined Conill 10 years ago as creative director for the Los Angeles office and was promoted to SVP-chief creative officer for the Los Angeles and Miami offices in 2008.

This is already a year of major moves in the U.S. Hispanic market. Last month Tony Dieste returned as chairman to Dieste, the agency he founded. Sandra Alfaro joined Lopez Negrete Communications as managing director-brand leadership after leaving KBS&P's U.S. Hispanic unit, Ramona, where she had been general managermulticultural. On the creative side, Gustavo Lauria moved to The Vidal Partnership as chief creative officer and managing partner last month, from creative director at La Comunidad in Miami.

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