Consumers engaged with the interactive games on State Farm's
Spanish-language Facebook page for 142,602 minutes in one month,
often choosing to donate the chargeable soccer balls to their
native countries. The results were huge for the marketer: State
Farm saw U.S. Hispanic insurance quotes grow 44% and registered a
47% increase in Hispanic sales.
That knack for matching Hispanics' passion points with online
efforts helped Alma's digital revenue soar 300% last year. Overall,
revenue grew 10%, boosted by a new-business marathon led by Isaac
Mizrahi (the marketer, not the famous designer), who joined Alma
two years ago as managing director after years at Sprint and
Coca-Cola. Last year
alone, the agency succeeded at bringing home 10 new accounts.
And at a time when Hispanic shops are increasingly defending
their business against general-market agencies, Alma is being
called upon for general-market work. It handles mainstream
advertising for Visit Florida, once a client of DDB's Miami office, which Alma absorbed.
Still, Mr. Messianu doesn't want to stray too far from the
agency's core. When an impressed client offered him the chance to
compete for cellphone marketer Cricket's general-market account
during a pitch last year, he stuck to -- and won -- the Hispanic
Alma is at its best when helping long-time clients like McDonald's lead with
multicultural insights, and new clients say that 's part of what
attracts them. A new smoothie for McCafé was introduced with
a lyrical spot in which a young woman sips the drink and has a
flashback to images from her Latin American childhood.
"I love the mango-pineapple smoothie work," said Neil Golden,
CMO of McDonald's USA. "It's beautiful and insightful. We ran it in
Spanish-language media and also extensively in
Last year, Alma relocated to a new office, which the Miami shop
said was akin to going from "a warren of hamster cubicles on a
highway to a waterfront dream castle." But the move to the stunning
new space incited a rebellion by creatives who were appalled to
learn that to shake things up, the 111 staffers would be grouped by
client or project teams, rather than sitting in the usual
Mr. Messianu, a nonconformist who likes to cajole people out of
their comfort zones, asked them to give it a try and, within a
couple of months, the creatives decided the new approach worked.
When the latest employee-satisfaction survey was issued, Alma,
which is part of the DDB network but was allowed to drop the DDB
name, scored among the top 20% of DDB offices.
"The creatives are more committed and have more business sense;
the account people have more of a sense of belonging, and digital
and planning are at the core," Mr. Messianu said.