Hispanic Shop LatinWorks to Acquire Cultura

Omnicom-Backed Shop to Maintain Minority-Ownership Status

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Omnicom Group's LatinWorks will acquire another Omnicom-backed Hispanic shop, Cultura, whose founder, Juan Faura, is returning to consulting. An announcement is expected today. With this deal, brokered by Omnicom's DAS division, all four U.S. Hispanic agencies within Omnicom have undergone major restructuring in less than a year.
LatinWorks Ownership Team (from left): Sergio Alcocer, president-chief creative officer; Manny Flores, CEO-managing partner; and Alejandro Ruelas, CMO-managing partner
LatinWorks Ownership Team (from left): Sergio Alcocer, president-chief creative officer; Manny Flores, CEO-managing partner; and Alejandro Ruelas, CMO-managing partner Credit: Eliseo Mendoza-Altamira

Sergio Alcocer, LatinWorks' president-chief creative officer, said Dallas-based Cultura's office will be closed and the agency's clients and 10 or 15 key staffers will be transferred to LatinWorks, based in Austin, Texas.

Cultura, like LatinWorks, was 49% owned by Omnicom, limiting the number of possible buyers for Mr. Faura's 51% stake.

"As the agency got larger, I got to do less of the thing I enjoy most, providing strategic and consumer insight to our clients," said Mr. Faura, who was president-CEO. Cultura started as a division of another Omnicom Hispanic agency, Dieste Harmel & Partners, Dallas, and was spun off as a separate shop in 2001.

A Cultura executive, Greg Knipp, is joining LatinWorks as one of two managing directors. Mr. Knipp used to be on the client side at Frito Lay, and was a media director at Leo Burnett in Chicago and Mexico, Mr. Alcocer said. Mr. Faura has left the company and set up a consultancy, Faura Group, in partnership with the Richards Group, Dallas.

'Natural fit'
Carmen Baez, president, Latin America, of Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services, which includes U.S. multicultural agencies, suggested LatinWorks acquire Cultura because "it seemed like a natural fit," she said.

"She was the matchmaker," Mr. Alcocer said. "It's a way for our agency to grow and gain momentum."

The two agencies have a strong focus on strategy and zero client conflict. On Cultura's side, accounts include Kimberly-Clark, won last year; Masterfoods USA's Snickers and M&M brands; the Texas Lottery; and Shell Motor Oil. Ten-year-old LatinWorks handles Anheuser-Busch, Hyundai Motor America and Domino's Pizza, and is best-known for creating Bud Light spots starring comic Carlos Mencia that ran during the last two Super Bowls.

An important factor for some marketers is that both agencies are certified as minority-owned, a status that is being carefully preserved by passing the majority shareholding in Cultura to LatinWorks' two managing partners, Manny Flores and Alejandro Ruelas.

In Ad Age's ranking of U.S. Hispanic agencies, LatinWorks was No. 20, with ad revenue of $8.3 million in 2006, ahead of Cultura at No. 27, with revenue of $6.2 million. Combining the two agencies, based on those figures, would create the 12th-largest Hispanic agency.

Other changes
Omnicom's biggest Hispanic agency, Dieste Harmel & Partners, Dallas, is also in the middle of major restructuring. Ms. Baez led the search for a new CEO and tapped Melisa Quinoy, who starts this week after nine years at MTV, where she was most recently exec VP of a Viacom brand-solutions division, working on sales and marketing for MTV and Nickelodeon in Europe. A new-business head, Carla Eboli, whom Ms. Baez found working at an Omnicom public relations company in Sao Paulo, is moving from Brazil to become director of marketing. And Alvaro Cabrera, a planner at Spain's Contrapunto BBDO, recently joined Dieste as executive director of integrated communications.

Separately, Dieste's San Francisco office, set up to handle Clorox, recently became part of DDB San Francisco in a Clorox consolidation and now reports to Alma DDB, Miami.

A year ago, Omnicom-owned Del Rivero Messianu DDB restructured and changed its name to Alma DDB when Eduardo del Rivero, chairman and co–founder left, and Luis Miguel Messianu, chief creative officer, added the chairman's role.

Ms. Baez said Omnicom didn't set out to revamp all its Hispanic agencies.

"It's been really opportunistic," she said. "There was not a master plan from an Omnicom point of view."
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