Agency A-List: Vidal Partnership

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Manny Vidal
  • Revenue up 20%
  • Adds NFL, Coke
  • Digital, PR fuel gains
  • Nissan reality series
  • Star roster of execs
For most specialist agencies, a client change or the firing of the general-market agency would be a death knell for the business.

Not so for the Vidal Partnership. In 2007, its biggest clients all changed marketing heads or fired their ad agencies or both, but Vidal remained firmly entrenched as U.S. Hispanic agency for each one.

It's proof that those marketers -- Sprint, Nissan, Home Depot, Wendy's and Heineken -- value the No. 1 Hispanic-owned agency's creative and strategic takes on one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S. and aren't about to go elsewhere. "Hispanic is so big now that we're not just lumped into a relationship with the general-market agencies, and you can get the time of the CMO," says Chairman-CEO Manny Vidal. "The bad part is there are eyes on you, and you have to deliver." The task of delivering ranges from crafting sophisticated digital and branded-content programs for marketers such as Sprint to helping others such as Kraft Foods figure out what to do brand by brand on dozens of products at wildly different stages of development in the Hispanic market.

Diversified revenue sources
In 2007, New York-based Vidal ratcheted up revenue 20% to $30 million. Enviably diversified, the agency gets about 40% of that revenue from nontraditional businesses including digital, direct marketing, promotions and public relations. New business included Greyhound, the National Football League and a Coca-Cola Co. digital assignment.

It helps that Vidal has assembled a team of stars, from leading creative director Mauricio Galvan to media chief Oswald Mendez, who in 2007 was one of Advertising Age's Media Mavens and a popular contestant on CBS's "Amazing Race" reality show.

Under Mr. Mendez's direction, Vidal is the leader in Spanish-language branded content, an area where Hispanic shops still lag. The agency has built a franchise for Nissan North America with an annual reality series pitting former World Cup teams against each other on Fox Sports en EspaƱol. For Sprint, "Concierto Clandestino," a reality show for aspiring concert promoters, took the music performances to multiple platforms from TV to Second Life. Vidal has already inked deals as executive producer of shows on three different networks in 2008.

For Hispanic agencies, the future lies in also reaching English-speaking, acculturated Latinos, a segment that's starting to grow faster than Spanish-dominant recent immigrants. Vidal tapped that dual market with a Home Depot campaign shot in both Spanish and English and featuring Mike, a real customer whose daily trips to Home Depot helped him decorate in a Mexican style. Apart from the language, the spots are subtly different. The English-language version, for instance, gives a bigger role to Mike's teenage daughter, who talks about her interest in her Mexican heritage.

Vidal got a head start on 2008 growth with late-year wins of Oscar Mayer, an extension of the agency's Kraft Foods business, and Diageo, a former client that reluctantly left due to an agency consolidation but rushed back a year later without a review. Now marketers know it's best not to leave Vidal in the first place.
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