A majority ownership stake in Casanova//McCann, the Costa Mesa, California-based multicultural advertising agency within the McCann Worldgroup network, has been sold to the agency’s long-time president/CEO, Ingrid Otero-Smart. Terms were not disclosed.
“I have worked with Ingrid for many years, she is of the most successful and influential agency leaders in the Worldgroup network. We are thrilled to watch Ingrid take this opportunity to grow and expand the agency she built across all marketing boundaries. She and the agency will continue to a valuable partner to us and and our clients,” said Harris Diamond, chairman and CEO, McCann Worldgroup.
Founded as Casanova Pendrill Publicidad in 1984, the agency grew throughout the late 1980s and 1990s to become the largest independent Hispanic advertising agency in the U.S. In December 1999, it was acquired by the Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG). In 2016, the agency rebranded to Casanova//McCann.
Casanova//McCann was named most awarded Hispanic advertising agency at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. This was the second consecutive year that Casanova//McCann earned this prestigious global recognition.
Casanova will remain part of the McCann network as an affiliated agency partner, with McCann holding a minority stake in the company.
“This is the right time for us to take control of our future and make a bigger impact in the advertising marketplace,” said president and CEO, Ingrid Otero-Smart. “This gives us the freedom to make decisions that are right for us. After almost two decades at McCann, it is a dream for me to take Casanova to the next level, to run a world-class agency that is owned by a Latina, and to have the creative and business opportunities of an independent agency. And we can operate on a global level with the resources of McCann behind us."
Otero-Smart retains the senior management team that has helped make Casanova such a uniquely successful company. Elias Weinstock, chief creative officer, is one of the most respected creative talents in the business; Karla Acevedo, SVP director, account leadership, brings 20 years of client experience to the business; and Will Pierce, chief strategy officer, has spent 20 years working to uncover and represent Latinx insights in marketing.
“Ingrid is one of the sharpest and most innovative creative and strategic minds in the business, and I mean the advertising industry as a whole, and not just the diverse consumer audience which she has served so spectacularly,” said Devika Bulchandani, president, McCann North America.
Ingrid Otero-Smart started her career at McCann Erickson in her native Puerto Rico, then moved to the U.S. to work on the Hispanic market for the past 20+ years. Her client experience includes automotive, packaged goods, travel, pharmaceuticals, QSR, financial services, retail, government, and technology categories, having worked with companies such as Nestlé, Chevrolet, California Lottery, MillerCoors, GlaxoSmithKline, IKEA, Denny’s, U.S. Postal Service, Disneyland among many others.
Otero-Smart is a past president of the CMC (formerly known as AHAA). She was twice named one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential Hispanics, 2009 Hispanic Ad Executive of the Year, named 2012 Marketing Person of the Year by OC Business Journal, recipient of 2013 Hispanic Achievement Award, 2015 Ad Colors Rock Star Award, 2016 Advertising Working Mothers of the Year Award (AWNY), received the Corporate Leadership Award at the 2016 National Puerto Rican Day Parade, and was inducted into the CMC Hall of Fame in 2018. Ms. Otero-Smart currently sits on the Board of Governors of California State University Fullerton.