La Comunidad Is No. 7 on Ad Age's Agency A-List
La Comunidad's Miami headquarters is composed of two separate offices: one for the left brain -- a color-saturated building in the trendy Design District, where family photos are plastered on the ceiling -- and another for the right brain, housed in a waterfront villa with a swimming pool for staff to cool off after brainstorming ideas and rehearsing pitches.
A third office is more than 4,000 miles away, in Buenos Aires.
At the independent shop owned and run by the Molla brothers from Argentina, La Comunidad's quirky approach to office space spills over into its portfolio of multicultural, international and digital content.
For a while, La Comunidad was probably best known for offbeat commercials for MTV Latin America, but now the agency is boosting sales to U.S. Hispanics of Corona Extra beer and Trident gum and saw its business from Apple grow by 30%. In 2012, the agency won accounts as diverse as Time Warner Cable and Converse Mexico.
Revenue last year grew 11% on top of a bumper year in 2011, when revenue soared by almost 60%. La Comunidad ranks as the 13th-largest U.S. Hispanic agency in Ad Age's 2012 Hispanic Fact Pack, up from No. 43 in its hotshop days back in 2007.
Much of what powers La Comunidad is imagination. Hired last year by Volvo to showcase the carmaker's wide-ranging innovations, the agency came up with the "Volvo in Every Car" app, which lets users zap badges of rival car brands to see all the Volvo-created technology inside other cars.
After turning an obnoxious giant hamster created for a TV commercial into a web series for MTV, "El Spooky Show" may now be headed for half-hour episodes on MTV and Comedy Central.
"We are working on scripts already," said Jose Molla, founder and creative director.
And when La Comunidad was named one of 10 Agencies to Watch in this issue a year ago, the Communitarians were the first to ever take that recognition literally. For the next two weeks, they used their cellphones to livestream their daily routine, from meetings to ping-pong games to staring at computer screens while chewing gum (remember, Trident is a client). Did anyone watch? Agencytowatch.com generated 100,000 views and 5,000 tweets.
The shop's intrepid spirit is fueled by the adventurous Jose Molla, who worked at Wieden & Kennedy as a creative director in Portland and Amsterdam before starting La Comunidad 11 years ago with Joaquin, who moved from the Buenos Aires office last year to join his brother in Miami. When Jose survived a shark attack while spearfishing in the Bahamas two years ago, he penned a heartfelt yet entertaining account of the experience before the blood dried on his 80 stitches.
For several years, La Comunidad had a third partner, Antoinette Zel, who left in August 2012 to return to her first love, the TV industry. That's a loss for La Comunidad, but with Ms. Zel now CEO of El Rey, an English-language Latino-themed cable channel due to launch in the next year, it may end up spelling new opportunities for "La Comu."