In 2020, Motel 6 fired the Richards Group, now TRG, over a racist remark made by the agency’s founder. Within the next 48 hours, the agency lost 40% of its business. But those weren’t the only departures. Lerma/, which was previously TRG’s multicultural marketing arm for 12 years under the name Richards/Lerma, separated from the agency under a new name in 2021.
How Lerma/ thrived in its first year of independence
Within its first year of independence, the Dallas-based agency was named Hispanic agency of record for Home Depot and agency of record for the Salvation Army, two companies that had cut ties with TRG the year prior. Last year the cross-cultural agency picked up 11 new clients and grew its revenue from $10 million in 2020 to $45 million in 2021. The agency’s staff also grew by 75%.
Lerma/ also took on a huge, if controversial, assignment: “Rebranding” Jesus. The shop created one of the more provocative faith-based campaigns in recent memory with its “He Gets Us” work that focused on modernizing how Christ is viewed in today’s world. The work compares the story of Jesus to contemporary themes of teen pregnancy, anxiety and politics.
In the first 12 weeks, the campaign’s videos garnered more than 110 million views on YouTube. The website the campaign promoted, backed by a group called The Servant Foundation, also receives between 50 and 90,000 visitors a day, yielding tens of thousands of chat conversations and reading plan downloads each month, the agency said.
In a more secular vein, using Avocados From Mexico’s Twitter feed, the agency drove attention to the brand during the Super Bowl by tweeting at 30 different brands during the Big Game—for example, swiftly producing a video of a bouncing avocado following Coinbase’s QR code spot. The social strategy achieved 4.8 billion media impressions and 100% positive brand sentiment, according to the agency.
Lerma/ also showed its cultural prowess with its “Cafecito” Labor Day campaign for Home Depot, which showed a Hispanic family opening up a coffee shop using materials from the home improvement retailer. Following the spot, 75% of bilingual viewers expressed purchase intent and average household spending among Hispanic families increased during the Labor Day promotion.