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Founded in 2014 with a global vision and approach, Buenos Aires-based Ágora today offers its services Mexico, Columbia and Brazil in addition to Argentina. The roughly 100-person agency is part of Untold_, a regional network of creative and communication professionals working with more than 132 clients.
Ágora has offices in Columbia (Bogotá and Medellin), Mexico City and São Paolo in addition to its headquarters, Buenos Aires.
2021 was a very good year for Ágora, which registered $3.2 million in fee income for the year — a 52% lift from 2020. The firm grew its headcount to 101 from 70 to service new business from Meta, L´Oréal LatAm, Volvo, Syngenta, Black & Decker and Michelin, which join a roster already populated by the likes of Netflix Brazil, Boehringer Ingelheim, Visa, Nestlé, Microsoft Merck, John Deere and Adidas. Ágora’s success supporting such a wide range of clients is rooted in part of the firm purposely building a team of specialists with diverse backgrounds in areas such as communications, journalism, political science, data analytics, creativity, strategic design and psychology, who pool expertise to support clients around three key pillars: reputation management, business environment shaping and relationships and engagement.
In 2021, Ágora set an objective: develop an action plan that would provide agencywide training on DEI, gender and inclusion, with the ultimate goal of being better equipped to serve clients and further its own diversity & inclusion. The agency approached its agenda systematically, evaluating the state of its diversity, reviewing its values, engaging a training organization, and opening up conversation to new perspectives and new voices, which continues today. Ágora marked International Women’s Day by launching a series of discussions with women in communications from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil. The firm’s leadesr include Argentina president & partner Santiago Lacase, Columbia president & partner Miguel Herrerahas, Brazil president & partner Everton Schultz; and Mexico president & partner Rogelio Blanco.
Ágora’s work is guided by its own methodology that uses strategic design tools to solve business issues with a view to reputation management, building a favorable business environment and strengthening the relationship with strategic stakeholders. In Colombia, Ágora launched online forums to discuss important business issues, while its Argentina office developed a multi-platform solution that adapts to the needs of journalists. In Brazil, Ágora developed a methodology that helps clients manage their content production, focused on digital and creative formats. The Mexico team worked with The Juju in different integrated campaigns such as Recognize them for L'Oréal's For Women in Science Awards and the latest campaign for Volvo Cars in the country. The year’s key work included a Brazil public awareness campaign on the dangers of bad cholesterol, or LDL.
— Diana Marszalek
The Costa Rican market is still very much a developing one, so CCK’s 40-strong team and $2.75 million in fee income is impressive and establishes the independent firm as a market leader—as does its success in international awards competitions. Founded in 1988—a difficult time for Central America generally—entrepreneurs Carmen Fallas and Edgar Mata had a vision to create a modern, progressive communications firm.
CCK is headquartered in Costa Rica but since its early days it has focused on the Central America region, with people in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. since 1996 it has enjoyed an affiliation agreement with Omnicom-owned global powerhouse Ketchum which provides it with access to overseas markets.
With 67 people and fee income of almost $5m (up 32% last year), CCK is the leading independent in Central America: a status underscored by its mix of local and global clients. New clients over the past year included Google, Janssen, Novo Nordisk, PepsiCo, Amanco-Wavin, BIMBO, La Constancia, Tramontina, Philips, and Huawei Enterprise, while the firm has longstanding relationships with the likes of Toyota, Walmart, Claro, Herbalife, ManPower Group, Bac Credomatic, Banco Agricola, Grupo Lala, Fresh del Monte, and Grupo Monge.
CCK describes itself as a “life-centered company,” priding itself on the opportunity for employees to grow and to be their authentic selves. Fallas and Mata have brought a new generation of leaders to the fore over the past few years, while continuing to serve as chairman and CEO respectively. Layla Poveda joined in 1997 and was named regional COO in 2016; Marcela Alfaro now serves as Costa Rica general manager; while last year’s biggest new hire, Laura Meneses, leads the Studio Content business. CCKampus, an e-learning platform to build communications and marketing skills, and SmartWork, a voluntary program for developing hybrid labor competence and enabling flexible approaches are just two examples of the progressive approach to building the firm’s culture.
#RediscoverCostaRica was an initiative to local tourism in Costa Rica during the pandemic, through the experiences of micro-influencers riding a Ford Everest Sport to reach the country’s many beauty-spot. Also during the Covid lockdown, the firm also worked a group of 150 musicians and producers from Costa Rica wsho created the song "Let the wind blow in your favor” aiming to bring a message of hope, union and solidarity. New business units such as Data Meaning (data mining and research), Studio Content (graphic design and audiovisual production) and Technology (digital communications) put CCK in the vanguard of Central American communications, while it remains a leader in crisis communications, corporate communications, brand communications and media relations. The firm also publishes annual research on “Who do Central Americans believe,” establishing itself as a thought leader in the region.
— Paul Holmes
Pizzolante launched in Caracas in 1976 as a TV production company, which quickly evolved into a full-fledged communications agency under the watch of self-taught leaders with a flair for storytelling. By the 1980s, the firm’s work with multinational clients drove its regional growth, leading to the opening of offices in Dominican Republic, Panamá, and Spain seven years ago years ago.
Pizzolante is headquartered in Caracas and is also active in Dominican Republic, Panamá, Guatemala, Spain, El Salvador and Honduras.
Forty-six years after launch, Pizzolante is Venezuela’s leading PR agency, a testament to the tenacity with which the firm has continued to thrive — winning new business, rolling out new offerings and affording employees new opportunities — through political, economic and, in the last two years, public health crises. 2021 was a boom year for Pizzolante, which saw its client roster expand from 14 to 63 during those 12 months. New clients included Siman, Camara Minera de Repulica Dominicana, DP World, Aceros Guatemala and Greincor, which join a roster populated by the likes of Copa Airlines, Equinor, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Grupo Universal. Pizzolante’s 30-person team works across the firm’s three regional offices (Caracas, Santo Domingo and Madrid) and two satellite locations (Panamá and Guatemala).
Pizzolante has long fostered a culture that puts a premium on collaboration, transparency, and going beyond expectations, which led the firm restructuring the workplace in response to how employees want to work following the Covid crisis. The agency’s strategic business committee helps steer the firm’s new hybrid work model, which includes repositioning offices as business hubs; Pizzolante has also added new health-related employee benefits including telemedicine and mental health support, while internally promoting healthy living and wellbeing. The organization supports diversity & inclusion through corporate policy that forbids discrimination in recruiting and hiring to compensation, training, and promotions. Today, founding partner Italo Pizzolante is an advisor to the firm’s multinational and regional clients, a member of an international think tank on corporate reputation and hosts Mexican and Venezuelan TV programs. Managing partner Thony Da Silva brings the full gamut of PR expertise, having counseled blue chip companies around the world.
Over the last 12 months, Pizzolante-penned thought leadership articles on reputation, CSR, sustainability and culture have been published in Forbes, Estrategia & Negocios, Mercado and Factor de Éxito. CEO Italo Pizzolante also launched a podcast, Pensar En Voz Alta, which in a few short weeks was ranked by chartable.com as Venezuela’s most popular management podcast. The firm developed a regional analysis report on Latin America political and economic situation affecting. The year’s hallmark work included supporting Santo Domingo Motors, which represents Nissan, Chevrolet, Infiniti, Suzuki and Yamaha in the Dominican Republic, in shaping its three-year business plan. After a deep dive into the automotive sector, Pizzolante in two months was able to deliver the company’s plan on time and on budget — and to its 700 employees.
— Diana Marszalek
In its six years since launch, Smart PR continues to impress, building a firm strong enough to serve top-tier clients at home in Colombia and Peru. Built on the premise of being clients’ ally, Smart PR’s approach is indisputably working given its eye-catching nearly 79% rise in revenue during 2021.
Smart PR has offices in Colombia and Perú.
Just six years after Fabian Motta launched Smart PR, the firm capped 2021 on the brink of becoming a $1 million business, with revenue rising nearly 79% to $941,393. The firm’s headcount rose, too, growing from 12 to 22 members to serve new clients IBM, KPMG, INDRA, Impresistems, Sonda, OPPO and Ashley Madison as well as existing clients Mercer, Mediatek, Smartick, Schneider Electric, Citrix and Xiaomi among others. Ranked the second fastest-growing PR firm in Columbia by P&M Magazine, Smart PR works with three of Columbia’s 10th largest tech companies and two of the five leading smartphone brands.
Since the outside, Smart PR has been dedicated to creating a culture that employees want to be part of rather than must to earn a living. Smart PR’s emphasis on work-life balance made it the first Columbian PR agency to be certified as a great place to work based on global standards. Smart PR is a champion of gender equality both in its own shop (the firm in 2020 signed the UN’s voluntary agreement to promote gender equity and women’s empowerment) and in client work through concerned efforts to raise the visibility of female executives. The agency has maintained its commitment to having at least 50% of its staff be women through its recently hiring; Women account for half Smart PR’s senior leadership team as well. Founder Fabian Motta runs Smart PR as general director, while Daniel España serves as associate director.
Since creating SmartLABS, a center dedicated innovation and development in communications, in 2019, Smart PR has developed new methodology to deliver impactful campaigns for brands. In turn the agency today offers clients a step-by-step process that includes identifying challenges, audiences, big ideas and desired outcomes; The firm also has created a training program for corporate spokespeople and a customizable data measurement tool. Smart PR’s own output included a live streamed look at the top 10 trends in PR; media outlet rankings; a public awareness campaign promoting political engagement; and an e-book on the Colombian economy. Hallmark work for clients included supporting the launch of KPMG’s Columbia Tech Report with a multi-phase campaign that drove brand awareness and media coverage. The effort resulted in coverage in more than 120 publications and reached 22 million people.
— Diana Marszalek
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