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Agency Profile: La Comunidad

Posted on January 12, 2012 and read 4,225 times

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brianna Agency Profile: La ComunidadBrianna Graves
Director of IHAVEANIDEA
IHAVEANIDEA

The fact that my visit to Miami accidentally coincided with the international art festival Art Basel could not have been timed any better. This annual event represents a rebirth in Miami of an artistic, creative soul and spirit, and not unlike independent global agency La Comunidad, Miami is on its way there, not its way back. The city feels alive; a melting pot of cultures that has grown and changed incredibly since brothers Jose and Joaquin Molla founded the agency ten years ago.

2011 was a big year for La Comunidad. The agency celebrated ten years in business and its most successful year to date, launched a new logo, renovated its Miami headquarters and welcomed a third partner to the business.

Community is just how the “Communitarians,” as they affectionately call themselves, approach business, media and culture. There are no boundaries, neither physically – they all sit together– nor figuratively, as they collaborate on a common mission. 

The newly remodeled office sits near Miami’s hip Design District. A roof deck gives a view of palm fronds and a dose of Vitamin D to any Communitarian who wanders up, but leaving the office is not necessary to catch some sunshine. The entire front of the building is floor-to-ceiling glass, opening the energy of the agency to the outside community and welcoming in the warm rays of a typical Miami day. Bright colors cover every wall, and unique vintage art pieces such as an installation of a diver over a communal “pool,” movie theater chairs, neon chandeliers and a floating remote-controlled helium shark bring personality to the space. Oh, and Antoinette’s royal-blue-fit-for-a-queen-office? I’d die for it.

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Its name says it all. It says it in Spanish, but it still says it all. “La Comunidad” means “the community” and it is the culture at La Comunidad, so fiercely cultivated and protected, that makes this agency who they are.

“It’s all about the people, and for us the name is a tribute to the people that make our dream even better,” said Co-founder and Creative Director Jose Molla. “We tried from the beginning to make this place different, to try to get all of the internal politics out of the way, to encourage everyone to really speak their minds and be open.”

Brothers Jose and Joaquin Molla founded La Comunidad in 2001 (If you don’t know the two-brothers-and-a-boat story, educate yourself here) with no clients, but a lot of conviction.

The Mollas began with two offices, one in Miami run by Jose and one in Buenos Aires, Argentina run by Joaquin. Despite two locations, the offices have always been run as one unified operation with only a bit of sea, mountains and jungle in between. But as La Comunidad crosses the milestone of its tenth anniversary in business, much has changed, grown and expanded.

Take, for instance, the introduction of Antoinette Zel. Since her appointment as President three years ago, the agency has seen game-changing new business growth within an enviable client roster, triple the number of Communitarians in the family and big plans to maintain this upward trajectory in coming years.

“We found our system with Antoinette. She’s a very, very “big picture” person with a great business understanding and a great creative sensibility,” Jose said, “She loves creative and she loves being around creatives. She’s helped us a lot to translate who we are, and at the end of the day, we all just love working together.”

Zel, now the CEO and third principal partner in La Comunidad, explained that the agency’s recipe for success is simple: conduct smart business, create excellent work and enjoy the ride.

“We make each other better,” Zel said. “La Comunidad is an all-truth, no-bullshit safe haven for expression,” she added. Therefore maintaining cultural standards in the short term is a priority for the long-term vision of the company.

There is an emphasis on enjoying the ride. Humanity is really important to the three partners. Ensuring that the business side never overrides the human side ensures a happy staff, and happy people come up with better ideas.

Ideas that have landed 75% of the agency pitches La Comunidad has participated in during the past three years. Ideas that have won AOR business from Original Penguin fashion, projects with Apple, a digital engagement with Converse in conjunction with Art Basel and the charge to create Volvo’s new brand identity and guideline. And ideas that fueled 60% revenue growth over the prior year as 2011 drew to a close.

To be specific, ideas such as “El Spooky Show,” the Original Penguin Jacket and “Meet Me Half Way.”

IHAVEANIDEA readers will remember the Meet Me Half Way adventure featured on ihaveanidea.org in October 2011. To celebrate ten years of successful collaboration, the agency opened up the brainstorming floor to the entire global staff for an epic commemoration in lieu of a party. Ironically, both Miami and Buenos Aires came up with the same idea: to symbolically and literally meet half way between the two offices for a memorable anniversary adventure.

The fact that the exact half way point would land them in the remote and dangerous Tres Fronteras region of the Amazon jungle made the entire journey more than just a bit more interesting. One creative was sent from Miami (“Chelsea”) and one from Buenos Aires (“Mosca”) to survive ten days of ten-themed adventures, including synchronized swimming with piranhas for ten minutes and visiting all three of the bordering frontiers in ten minutes. Aside from IHAVEANIDEA, the entirety of Chelsea and Mosca’s adventures were documented on a blog, through the agency’s Facebook page and via their Twitter feed.

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When Perry Ellis International appointed La Comunidad as the Agency of Record for Original Penguin by Munsingwear in 2011, it demonstrated the shifting position and direction in which La Comunidad is headed: fusing advertising with content, entertainment and technology. Original Penguin wanted to move its brand into the digital space and become a major player in social media and La Comunidad was chosen to take on the challenge. La Comunidad emphasized the need to bring out a fun, playful side of the classic American heritage brand’s personality to engage consumers. Intending to ultimately transcend any one particular channel, La Comunidad worked on key areas of Original Penguin’s business including retail, social media, print, email marketing as well as in-store events.

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“Multi” is a key word in La Comunidad’s creative, where work for a multicultural audience lives across multimedia. Believing that brands must provide content beyond advertising, they founded La Comunidad- Summer, an innovation, creation and content division. This division created “El Spooky Show,” a series concepted, written and directed by the agency and airing on Comedy Central Latin America and MTVtr3s (a bilingual/bicultural entertainment source for Latinos in the U.S.). “Spooky” is an offbeat giant Mexican hamster who lives with his “roommate” (owner) Yogu, and often tests Yogu’s patience with his antics. Spooky originally debuted as a spot that ran during the global 2010 World Cup campaign that La Comunidad created for MTV International.

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Where do such ideas grow? In the most colorful environment you’ve ever encountered. Inspired by its people and by ThisIsNotaGallery (La Comunidad’s internationally recognized art space in Buenos Aires), the fusion of colors throughout the office represent community. La Comunidad looks at each Communitarian as a color, and recognizes that when blended together, the team forms an entirely new color unique to the group it comprises.

This new office represents the rational side of La Comunidad, while the emotional side of the agency is embodied in the House, its former Miami headquarters. This emotional and the rational are an important balance representative of the souls of the offices in the U.S. and Argentina. Buenos Aires also has two offices, including the Buenos Aires House and La Comunidad- Summer in Palermo, Argentina (an area similar to Soho in New York).

Together, Joaquin, Jose and Antoinette are committed to a future of high creative standards and a unique culture.

“We want La Comunidad to be a filter for a way of experiencing life,” the partners explained, “It’s beyond advertising or communication, ideally. The most important thing is that we are having more fun than ever. There are so many different outlets and creative expressions, and this really is the best time in history to be working creatively.”






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