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Agency Life

New to the Family

New to the Family

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

October 16, 2018

Republica Havas is one of the newest additions to Havas—and it's already making waves.

"Relevance is about going beyond talking the talk. It’s about understanding and living the culture."

Republica Havas CEO Jorge Plasencia explains why Havas and why now. And he shares the unique offering his team is bringing to advertisers. Plus, discover how he got a World Series ring.

 

We have to ask: What’s it like working in Miami?

I like to say it’s another day in paradise. There’s an energy to working in Miami that’s contagious. We’re lucky to live where the world plays. And as a native Miamian—and there aren’t many of us—watching our city evolve into a global hub for business and a major center for the arts and entertainment has been very exciting. We’re one of the fastest-growing big cities in the U.S. Miami and its rich diversity are a microcosm of how America’s becoming increasingly multicultural. An example: At Republica Havas, there are 23 countries represented in our staff.

Tell me about Republica Havas.

I’ve been at this for a long time—since I was 14. I started as a gofer at a radio station working in promotions and driving the live broadcast van to remote locations on the weekends.

As for Republica Havas, Co-founder and President Luis Casamayor and I had been friends for years. He owned Cosmyk, a boutique creative shop, and I was an executive at Univision, the Hispanic media company. I always had the entrepreneurial bug, and knew I wanted to build something meaningful one day. We recognized that our complementary skill sets could create something powerful and relevant for a largely underserved market in the U.S.

So we started Republica, which we launched in November 2006 to address America’s growing multicultural and digital revolution. Twitter also started that year, and Facebook had just begun to reach the masses. There were some agencies in the multicultural market at the time, but not too many that were doing it right. We grew fast and in a few years, despite the Great Recession, we became one of America’s fastest-growing agencies.

From the outset, we’ve offered the whole gamut of advertising and communications services including creative, strategy, media planning and buying, PR, social, and digital. Today, we’re one of the leading multicultural agencies in the U.S. Weeks before announcing that we were joining forces with Havas, we were ranked by Ad Age as the No. 1 independent multicultural agency in the U.S. via their annual Hispanic Fact Pack.

Before Republica, I had stints in media, sports, and music and entertainment. In addition to Univision, I worked as a vice president of marketing for Estefan Enterprises, the music and entertainment conglomerate owned by Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio. There, I was on the management team of several major artists including Gloria and Shakira. It all happened during the Latin music boom—an incredible time to be in the music industry. We were managing or producing a lot of the top crossover talent at the time. I was also part of a small group that worked with the Recording Academy on creating the Latin GRAMMY Awards. Before that, I was director of Hispanic marketing for the Florida Marlins. I was lucky enough to work there and to be a part of their first World Series victory in 1997. And yes, I have a World Series ring.

So why Havas and why now?

We’d been approached by many suitors—holding companies, private equity firms, and others. It never felt right, but that changed with Havas. It was clear that we share similar values. That, coupled with the fact that we were offered the opportunity to become Havas’ lead multicultural agency in the U.S., made it even more enticing. I got to spend time with Havas’ leaders at Cannes this year, and the chemistry was instant. I knew we were partnering with the right people at the right time. Our goal with Havas is to become the multicultural agency partner of choice for the modern CMO.

Your tagline: “Rethink Relevant.” Define relevance for us, and how can we reimagine it?

Relevance is everything. It’s about establishing real, authentic connections, which is crucial for brands nowadays. “Rethink Relevant” isn’t just a tagline; it’s our strategic mantra. Relevance is about going beyond talking the talk. It’s about understanding and living the culture. Our fantastic brand strategy team digs straight into the core of a brand—its DNA. Just as people have personalities, brands do too. We create content that’s both culturally relevant and true to that core.

"Giving back is very important to me personally, and we’ve made it a hallmark of our agency’s culture."

What might be some obstacles to creating relevant messages?

Not being open to understanding that you can no longer have a one-size-fits-all strategy.

How do you define culture?

It’s who we are. It’s how we live every day.

How can brands tap into a culture in an authentic way?

People will know if you’re not being genuine and just checking a box. Translating is a big no-no. It’s about creating compelling content that also connects.

Can companies create culture?

Yes, definitely.

In a recent letter, you describe your fierce appetite for “entrepreneurial and nimble” ideas. What drives that spirit?

We can never lose our hunger and drive. We can’t simply rest on our laurels. We have to continue raising the bar; and with Havas and Vivendi, the opportunities are endless.

Both you personally and Republica Havas are very engaged with the community. Tell us more about this.

Giving back is very important to me personally, and we’ve made it a hallmark of our agency’s culture. We’ve been very entrenched in both the local Miami community and also in many important causes throughout the U.S. When I was 17, I co-founded Amigos for Kids, a non-profit organization that focuses on child abuse prevention and works with underprivileged children and families. Today, 26 years later, it’s one of the leading nonprofits in South Florida. At Republica Havas, Amigos is a pro-bono client. Last year, we launched a global child abuse prevention campaign, “Broken Crayons,” during Art Basel Miami Beach. It’s won the agency countless creative awards, including a spot on the Clio and a Cannes Lions shortlist, among many others.

You were recently honored in New York City by the National Hispanic Public Relations Association with their top honor, the 2018 Bravo! Awards “Pioneer of the Year.” How do you feel to be recognized in such a significant way by your peers?

It was extremely humbling to receive this award. I dedicated it to the women and men who came before me and paved the way for us working in the multicultural marketing and communications industry we encounter today in the U.S.

What’s something that you wish you could change about advertising?

Cynicism.

What do you hope never changes?

Our curiosity.

What’s the one thing that you want everyone to know about you?

Family above all.

Your best advice for someone who wants to accomplish a goal?

Never settle.

What’s next for your agency?

With Havas and Vivendi, the world is our oyster. We’re excited to partner with the global family as we showcase the endless brand opportunities that exist in the U.S. multicultural market and beyond.

"Relevance is about going beyond talking the talk. It’s about understanding and living the culture."

Republica Havas CEO Jorge Plasencia explains why Havas and why now. And he shares the unique offering his team is bringing to advertisers. Plus, discover how he got a World Series ring.

 

We have to ask: What’s it like working in Miami?

I like to say it’s another day in paradise. There’s an energy to working in Miami that’s contagious. We’re lucky to live where the world plays. And as a native Miamian—and there aren’t many of us—watching our city evolve into a global hub for business and a major center for the arts and entertainment has been very exciting. We’re one of the fastest-growing big cities in the U.S. Miami and its rich diversity are a microcosm of how America’s becoming increasingly multicultural. An example: At Republica Havas, there are 23 countries represented in our staff.

Tell me about Republica Havas.

I’ve been at this for a long time—since I was 14. I started as a gofer at a radio station working in promotions and driving the live broadcast van to remote locations on the weekends.

As for Republica Havas, Co-founder and President Luis Casamayor and I had been friends for years. He owned Cosmyk, a boutique creative shop, and I was an executive at Univision, the Hispanic media company. I always had the entrepreneurial bug, and knew I wanted to build something meaningful one day. We recognized that our complementary skill sets could create something powerful and relevant for a largely underserved market in the U.S.

So we started Republica, which we launched in November 2006 to address America’s growing multicultural and digital revolution. Twitter also started that year, and Facebook had just begun to reach the masses. There were some agencies in the multicultural market at the time, but not too many that were doing it right. We grew fast and in a few years, despite the Great Recession, we became one of America’s fastest-growing agencies.

From the outset, we’ve offered the whole gamut of advertising and communications services including creative, strategy, media planning and buying, PR, social, and digital. Today, we’re one of the leading multicultural agencies in the U.S. Weeks before announcing that we were joining forces with Havas, we were ranked by Ad Age as the No. 1 independent multicultural agency in the U.S. via their annual Hispanic Fact Pack.

Before Republica, I had stints in media, sports, and music and entertainment. In addition to Univision, I worked as a vice president of marketing for Estefan Enterprises, the music and entertainment conglomerate owned by Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio. There, I was on the management team of several major artists including Gloria and Shakira. It all happened during the Latin music boom—an incredible time to be in the music industry. We were managing or producing a lot of the top crossover talent at the time. I was also part of a small group that worked with the Recording Academy on creating the Latin GRAMMY Awards. Before that, I was director of Hispanic marketing for the Florida Marlins. I was lucky enough to work there and to be a part of their first World Series victory in 1997. And yes, I have a World Series ring.

So why Havas and why now?

We’d been approached by many suitors—holding companies, private equity firms, and others. It never felt right, but that changed with Havas. It was clear that we share similar values. That, coupled with the fact that we were offered the opportunity to become Havas’ lead multicultural agency in the U.S., made it even more enticing. I got to spend time with Havas’ leaders at Cannes this year, and the chemistry was instant. I knew we were partnering with the right people at the right time. Our goal with Havas is to become the multicultural agency partner of choice for the modern CMO.

Your tagline: “Rethink Relevant.” Define relevance for us, and how can we reimagine it?

Relevance is everything. It’s about establishing real, authentic connections, which is crucial for brands nowadays. “Rethink Relevant” isn’t just a tagline; it’s our strategic mantra. Relevance is about going beyond talking the talk. It’s about understanding and living the culture. Our fantastic brand strategy team digs straight into the core of a brand—its DNA. Just as people have personalities, brands do too. We create content that’s both culturally relevant and true to that core.

"Giving back is very important to me personally, and we’ve made it a hallmark of our agency’s culture."

What might be some obstacles to creating relevant messages?

Not being open to understanding that you can no longer have a one-size-fits-all strategy.

How do you define culture?

It’s who we are. It’s how we live every day.

How can brands tap into a culture in an authentic way?

People will know if you’re not being genuine and just checking a box. Translating is a big no-no. It’s about creating compelling content that also connects.

Can companies create culture?

Yes, definitely.

In a recent letter, you describe your fierce appetite for “entrepreneurial and nimble” ideas. What drives that spirit?

We can never lose our hunger and drive. We can’t simply rest on our laurels. We have to continue raising the bar; and with Havas and Vivendi, the opportunities are endless.

Both you personally and Republica Havas are very engaged with the community. Tell us more about this.

Giving back is very important to me personally, and we’ve made it a hallmark of our agency’s culture. We’ve been very entrenched in both the local Miami community and also in many important causes throughout the U.S. When I was 17, I co-founded Amigos for Kids, a non-profit organization that focuses on child abuse prevention and works with underprivileged children and families. Today, 26 years later, it’s one of the leading nonprofits in South Florida. At Republica Havas, Amigos is a pro-bono client. Last year, we launched a global child abuse prevention campaign, “Broken Crayons,” during Art Basel Miami Beach. It’s won the agency countless creative awards, including a spot on the Clio and a Cannes Lions shortlist, among many others.

You were recently honored in New York City by the National Hispanic Public Relations Association with their top honor, the 2018 Bravo! Awards “Pioneer of the Year.” How do you feel to be recognized in such a significant way by your peers?

It was extremely humbling to receive this award. I dedicated it to the women and men who came before me and paved the way for us working in the multicultural marketing and communications industry we encounter today in the U.S.

What’s something that you wish you could change about advertising?

Cynicism.

What do you hope never changes?

Our curiosity.

What’s the one thing that you want everyone to know about you?

Family above all.

Your best advice for someone who wants to accomplish a goal?

Never settle.

What’s next for your agency?

With Havas and Vivendi, the world is our oyster. We’re excited to partner with the global family as we showcase the endless brand opportunities that exist in the U.S. multicultural market and beyond.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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