MIAMI, July 13—When major corporations approach pan-regional programming in Europe and Asia they are faced with producing materials in a multitude of languages for media that operate on a country-by-country basis. But when companies approach the Latin American market, they are dealing with a relatively homogeneous population in terms of language—Brazil is the notable exception, of course—with trade and electronic media that often take a regional view.
That’s Jeff Sharlach’s theory for why so many major corporations are consolidating their Latin American PR approach with a single regional agency and why his firm, The Jeffrey Group, is picking up so much business.
The latest example of the trend is transportation giant FedEx, which this week consolidated its six-figure Latin American PR program with The Jeffrey Group. The company had previously used Ketchum (its agency in the U.S.) for Argentina and Brazil, Burson-Marsteller in Mexico, and the local GCI Group affiliate in Chile.
“As FedEx has expanded in the region, offering more services and a broader network, it’s become increasingly important for us to manage the communications on an integrated, regional basis,” says Cliff Deeds, managing director of Latin America & Caribbean marketing for FedEx. “Our existing agencies have done an excellent job in helping to establish FedEx in their respective markets. 
“However, as we continue to grow throughout the region, ensuring consistency in strategy and maximizing our resources has become ever more critical to our success, and we believe The Jeffrey Group model, which balances centralized account management with local expertise and execution, will be very effective for FedEx.”
The Jeffrey Group, headquartered in Miami, will manage the account centrally, using its own offices in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico and local firms that are part of its service network in the region’s smaller markets.
Sharlach points out that FedEx is simply the latest large company to consolidate its PR account in this way. “Our other major clients, including British Airways, Kodak and Mastercard, all used multiple agencies before they came to us,” he says. “But with the proliferation of pan-regional media—business television and the Internet both cross borders freely—a centralized approach just makes more sense when it comes to Latin America.”
Sharlach says that existing clients have been increasing their spending in the region too, as the Latin American economies—with the exception of Argentina—remain relatively robust compared to the U.S. As a result, The Jeffrey Group anticipates revenues for 2001 will be up about 20 percent over last year, when it reported fee income of $3.25 million.