Women to Watch 06

Paco Olavarrieta

By Published on .

During his one-year stint as Leo Burnett's creative director in the Dominican Republic, Paco Olavarrieta learned to dance the merengue. Now he's a big hit at the agency Christmas party, his colleagues at the Vidal Partnership in New York say admiringly.

Mexican-born Mr. Olavarrieta, 40, danced his way from Bcom3 Group-owned Burnett's Mexico City office to Santo Domingo, to del Rivero Messianu DDB in Coral Gables, Fla., before landing at Vidal in New York almost two years ago as chief creative director. His objective at Vidal is to transform the 10-year-old agency's creative department. (Until December 1999, when CEO Manny Vidal bought out his two original partners, Jorge Reynardus and Jorge Moya, the agency was Vidal Reynardus & Moya).

Not a single person in Mr. Olavarrieta's department is U.S.-born, in fact. He has staffed up with creatives from Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain. He hired Mauricio Galvan, a star creative director at Teran TBWA in Mexico City, last October, and his associate creative director comes from one of Argentina's most creative agencies, Agulla & Baccetti.


"Everyone wants to come to New York," Mr. Olavarrieta says. "They've seen creative in the U.S. Hispanic market has really evolved. They realize they can live in the U.S. and do the same quality of work."

Certainly the campaigns Mr. Olavarrieta and his creative teams turn out for clients like Cingular Wireless and Heineken USA are good enough to run anywhere. The assignment this year to launch Cingular, the joint wireless venture of SBC Communications and BellSouth Corp., was one of the most coveted in the Hispanic market. Scattered throughout the agency is ongoing work for Heineken. Heavy on colloquial Spanish wordplay and imagery, green Heineken bottles are compared in ads to everything from brides to green cards.

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