WPP Agency Pushes Into U.S. Hispanic Market

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NEW YORK ( -- One of Spain's top ad agencies, WPP Group-owned S,C,P,F, is opening a Miami-based agency for the U.S. Hispanic market Sept. 1, according to the company.
Ignasi Puig, managing director of S,C,P,F, sees opportunities in the U.S. Hispanic market.

Ignasi Puig, managing director and the 'P' in S,C,P,F, moves to Miami from Barcelona next week as CEO of S,C,P,F America. He'll be joined next month by a creative team from the agency in Spain and several U.S. local hires who are being finalized now.

Leading creative shop
Started in 1996 in Barcelona, S,C,P,F is one of Europe's leading creative agencies, led by Spain's top creative Toni Segarra, who will be involved in the U.S. Hispanic shop. In Spain, the agency has 125 staffers in Barcelona and Madrid and has done award-winning work for years for clients like BMW and Ikea. Other major clients are Diageo's J&B whisky, Vodafone and Evax, a local feminine hygiene brand owned by Procter & Gamble Co. that is similar to the company's Always brand.

In the U.S., the agency has three potential sources of clients, Mr. Puig said. The first is marketers the agency already works with in Europe, and the Hispanic shop is likely to start with projects from BMW and J&B. And an Ikea marketing executive from Spain, where S,C,P,F does an acclaimed long-running campaign with the theme "Redecorar tu vida," about people transforming their lives, now works at Ikea in the U.S.

Mr. Puig sees a second opportunity in several Spain-based companies that aren't S,C,P,F clients in their home country but have visited the agency to talk about working together in the U.S.

WPP clients underserved
Finally, WPP's own clients are currently underserved in the U.S. Hispanic market, with only Young & Rubicam's Bravo Group available to them. Neither JWT nor Ogilvy & Mather has a U.S. Hispanic shop. Last year JWT's Latin American president, Jimmy Evans, choosing whether to move his office from Mexico City to Miami, where he could be more involved in the U.S. Hispanic market, or to Buenos Aires, picked Buenos Aires.

In Spain, S,C,P,F has been aligned with JWT but operates independently within WPP because BMW and P&G compete with JWT's and Ogilvy's biggest clients, Ford Motor Co. and Unilever. One client WPP would like to handle in the U.S. Hispanic market is Ford, but most of that business is firmly established at independent shop Zubi Advertising, and S,C,P,F is more interested in its relationship with BMW.

"As far as I know, they're happy [at Ford] with Zubi and we don't expect any change with that account," Mr. Puig said.

WPP 2004 acquisition
WPP bought a 30% stake in S,C,P,F in 2000 and upped it to 100% at the end of last year. The S,C,P,F America venture, which got the go-ahead from WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell, is majority owned by WPP, with the remainder held by Mr. Segarra, Mr. Puig and their third partner, President Luis Cuesta.

"Our main priority is to build an agency in the U.S. Hispanic market," said Mr. Puig, adding that one reason Miami was chosen is that the city can also serve as a hub for Latin America if the agency ends up working with clients there, too. Plus the East Coast has only a six-hour time difference with the Barcelona headquarters, compared to nine hours with the West Coast.

In the last few years, as the U.S. Hispanic population has exploded into a Spanish-speaking market bigger in size and buying power than many Latin American countries, agencies in both Spain and Argentina have eyed the U.S. with interest but S,C,P,F is the only one to go ahead with a U.S. shop.

"We're obsessed by the creative product," he said. "This is our illness, our obsession."

Temporary Miami space
S,C,P,F America is opening in temporary space in downtown Miami, but Mr. Puig said he hopes to be in South Beach -- at the beginning of 2006. Most of Miami's Hispanic agencies, like drm DDB, Zubi Advertising and C.O.D., are located in Coral Gables. In a sign of his commitment to the new venture, Mr. Puig has bought a house in Key Biscayne for his family, including four children aged 4 through 12.

One thing he finds odd about the U.S. market is that agencies do either Hispanic or general market work, but not both (although some Hispanic shops such as Austin, Texas-based LatinWorks are trying to change that).

"You can't be just an agency," he said. "For me, that's a little strange, coming from Europe, where the same campaign runs in France, Spain, Germany -- we're used to cross-border [across different languages and cultures] advertising. It's a matter of ideas, not the language people speak."


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