Agency A-List 2010

Conill Is Ad Age's Multicultural Agency of the Year

Shop (and Toyota) Is Riding High After a Campaign That Tied Latinos' Pride in Their Heritage With Pride in Owning Car Brand

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NEW YORK ( -- Tim Morrison said he works with four ad agencies at Toyota, but only his Hispanic shop, Conill, was intrigued enough by the company-supplied statistic that 90% of all the Camrys sold since 1994 are still on the road to pose the question, "What happened to the other 10%?"

ON THE MOVE: Conill helped boost Toyota sales with this catchy campaign.
ON THE MOVE: Conill helped boost Toyota sales with this catchy campaign.
"It's a pretty a-ha moment," said Mr. Morrison, corporate manager-marketing communications for the Toyota Division of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. "That's their mind-set." That 90% claim sparked ads depicting ridiculous fates that could have befallen the unlucky 10% of Camrys and their owners, from campers whose car is attacked by a bear on a rampage to the unfaithful driver who swears to his girlfriend that lightning should strike if he's lying. Of course, it does.

Conill, which handles work for all Toyota brands, also came up with a stunningly simple idea to link Latinos' pride in their heritage with pride in being a Toyota owner, just as Toyota struggled to recover from falling sales and a dinged safety reputation last year.

For the campaign "Somos muchos Latinos. Somos muchos Toyota" ("We are many Latinos. We are many Toyota owners"), Conill crafted 100 different decals with the names of Latin American countries and major cities, and offered them free on a Spanish-language Toyota Facebook page. "No one would use an 'I love Toyota' sticker, but if you give them something that says Argentina or Mexico, they'll put it on their car," said Pablo Buffagni, Conill's senior VP-chief creative officer.

Conill wove in traditional media by creating commercials from footage of street teams approaching Toyota owners to pick out stickers and talk about their cars, but social media and engagement is what really makes the campaign tick. Overall, the effort boosted favorable opinion of Toyota 13% and consideration for Toyota vehicles 8%. So far 312,635 stickers have been ordered, the Facebook page has 38,022 fans, and tech-savvy Mr. Buffagni, one of the U.S. Hispanic market's leading creatives, is figuring out where to go next with the idea. Longtime clients Toyota,

T-Mobile and Procter & Gamble have been Conill's mainstays for years, but in 2010 new business helped drive a 29% jump in billings and revenue growth of more than 15% for the agency as Conill picked up Citibank, JC Penney, video-game publisher THQ and Sony.

Another impressive statistic: 17% of Conill's business came from digital in 2010. That's way ahead of the curve in the Hispanic market, where marketers tend to under-spend on digital efforts.

The agency's digital savvy led to a new business model when Conill, which is 100% owned by Saatchi & Saatchi, partnered with Buenos Aires-based Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi to pitch for Sony PlayStation's Latin America account. In August, Del Campo won the creative assignment, and Conill was put in charge of all digital and nontraditional media.

That collaboration has been so successful that Mark Stanley, the senior director and general manager, Latin America, for Sony Computer Entertainment America, said he recommended the Saatchi and Conill team to Sony's electronics division, which was looking for a new agency for the Cyber-shot brand. The duo pitched, and won, the digital camera business in December.

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