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[Miami] Marketers are taking a new look at Latin America. The region of more than 450 million inhabitants is overcoming a history of political and economic volatility and trade barriers to emerge as a leading prospect for growth, speakers told 350 regional marketing executives here at last month's Marketing 2020 Advertising Summit of the Americas, sponsored by Advertising Age International and the International Advertising Association.

Like many marketers refining their Latin American strategy, Federal Express Corp. entered the region in the 1990s with nine ad agencies; inefficient creative development and media planning; and a too-U.S. approach, said Deborah Van Valkenburgh, managing director/marketing-Latin America.

Now, the company has a long-term vision of picking up a package anywhere for delivery within 48 hours and communicates it through BBDO Worldwide, New York, working with satellite TV channels like ESPN and targeted business media, she said.

Speaking generally about the future of client-agency relationships, Jeffrey Merrihue, Kellogg Co.'s director of marketing and sales for Latin America, admonished ad agencies to work on a more regional basis. Kellogg invests 20% of its $500 million Latin American sales in advertising and trade, he said.

"Our current [agency] setup is absolutely unmanageable," he said. "There will probably be two agency centers in Latin America-one in Mexico and one in Brazil. The others will be more like satellite shops or mini-agencies."

Marketers and their ad agencies are among the more than 300 multinational companies coordinating the region from offices in or near Miami.

As the market develops, advertisers' messages are changing to include pan-regional TV and print, World Wide Web site development and direct mail.

Direct marketing can help companies with limited marketing budgets, said Philippe Brechot, regional export director-Latin America for Veuve Clicquot Champagne, a subsidiary of Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton. Ketchum Asociados, Miami, is developing the company's first direct mail campaign for the region.

While some companies benefit from a worldwide branded image, others need localization, said Nizan Guanaes, president of DM9 Publicidade, SÌo Paulo.

"Brazil still doesn't get airbags with locally made cars," he said. "Not only products are at different levels, [but] social levels are different. We have the Internet, but millions of Latins still have to be introduced to the pencil and the typewriter. The 21st and 19th centuries live side by side."

Mr. Guanaes pointed out that the marketing can't be the same, for example, for a BMW that costs $33,000 in the U.S. but sells for $100,000 in Brazil, where car loans are almost nonexistent.

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