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How DDB Centro Is Putting Central American Creativity on the Map


El taier DDB Centro’s COO, Hector Oliveros on growing and revitalising the agency through global projects and continuous learning, writes LBB’s Ben Conway

How DDB Centro Is Putting Central American Creativity on the Map

Hector Oliveros is the chief operating officer at DDB’s central American creative agency, el taier DDB Centro. Based in Guatemala, where Hector has worked as an art director, ECD, account manager and more for a variety of companies such as DDB Guatemala, 4am Saatchi & Saatchi and JWT/ DSMN, the COO uses his 16-plus years of experience in the local creative industry to lead and grow DDB’s business in Guatemala and the wider LATAM region.

During his last seven years with DDB Centro, ascending from director of accounts and new business to general account manager, and then to COO in 2020, Hector has helped the agency overcome financial pressures and hit new goals. During this time, the agency has developed a respected creative reputation, both domestically and internationally, by implementing modern technological advancements, maintaining a positive culture and actively trying to stand out from the competition.

Speaking to LBB’s Ben Conway, Hector discusses how DDB Centro is finding innovative solutions for its clients, how the agency is putting Central America on the map by competing in international markets with Brazilian and Mexican agencies, and shares some insight into recent projects for Pepsi, Nestlé, Stella Artois and more.

LBB> How was your journey into the industry - where did you cut your teeth? What are some important lessons you learnt? 

Hector> From a young age, I was drawn to creative projects and the idea of modifying things in my way. At 15 years old, I began experimenting with 3D modelling programs and design, which led me to study graphic design and communication at Universidad del Istmo in Guatemala. During my last year of college, I started doing freelance gigs and building up my portfolio – something quite innovative at the time as it was all made in flash animation. This opened the door for me at DDB Dos Puntos, where I started as a graphic designer, working for brands such as Volkswagen, Hotel Westing Camino Real, AB InBev, and Henkel. Through these experiences and hard work over the past 20 years, I have progressed to becoming the chief operating officer of DDB Centro – demonstrating that dedication can pay off in extraordinary ways. Along this journey, I have learned that passion is essential when striving for excellence – but one must also develop qualities beyond technical expertise and understand that this business is constantly changing; continuous learning and being open to feedback are vital components for growth.

LBB> You’ve been at DDB Centro for seven years - how have you seen the company and the industry in your region change during that time?

Hector> I am proud to have been part of the team driving DDB Centro’s success over the past seven years. During this time, we have worked hard to differentiate ourselves from competitors and create value beyond expectations. We have invested heavily in training highly passionate individuals, created a warm and inspiring work environment, prototyped customer service models to provide exceptional experiences, and implemented new tools to keep up with advances in digital transformation. Despite financial pressure, such as the high cost of hiring talent or keeping up with fast-paced tech changes, our team has remained committed to finding innovative solutions that benefit customers and brands alike. As part of the managing team, I´m always proud of our creative reputation and the remarkable results obtained at this time.

LBB> Latin America has a good creative pedigree, with many of its nations being popular for productions and creative projects alike. What does Guatemala offer that is unique to the region? 

Hector> Guatemala is well-known for its creative pedigree in Latin America. Its population is relatively young, and the country is heavily influenced by US culture, which has propelled technological development there. The pandemic demonstrated how we are all connected worldwide and that projects can be led from any location. Additionally, healthy competition exists within the marketing industry as many people strive to professionalise their work. 

Guatemala also boasts impressive cultural diversity and a unique history compared to other countries in the region. This allows them to introduce freshness into global production standards. They have become quite agile in adapting structures according to client needs, making them attractive for businesses looking for creative opportunities in Latin America and beyond. Moreover, legal advantage exists over other regulations and competitive talent participating in creative products at various levels.

LBB> Is Central America overlooked more than other nations in LATAM, like Brazil or Mexico? What is DDB Centro’s international collaboration and interest like?

Hector> Yes, Central America is often overlooked compared to countries such as Brazil or Mexico in the Latin American region. However, DDB Centro has been successful with international collaborations over the past few years and has had the opportunity to pitch for projects in many different countries. For example, we won a telecommunications project in California that was ultimately intended for execution in Mexico. In addition, some clients have trusted us to win projects in Brazil and other markets. This growth comes from participating in global projects, so we always look for new clients worldwide. We take great pride when our team is included alongside agencies from Brazil, Colombia, or Mexico during pitches – it's revitalising!

LBB> What were some of your favourite projects from 2022? Tell us a bit about them!

Hector> The ‘Platform for Pepsi’ in 2022 was an incredibly challenging project but ultimately rewarding for us. We worked diligently on the planning, creation, and execution of the campaign that featured Mexican Influencer Luisito Comunica. The launch became an instant trending topic in Guatemala, and we exceeded all media and digital KPIs – making it a reference success within PepsiCo itself! Projects like this are great opportunities for us as they allow us to flex our creative muscles and demonstrate that we are part of the top agencies in LATAM.

LBB> You have some huge clients - from Pepsi to Nestlé to Stella Artois - what makes your work with these multinationals stand out from their campaigns from around the world?

Hector> Our work with global companies, such as Pepsi, Nestlé, and Stella Artois, stands out due to our expertise in understanding local cultures and markets. For example, the entire ‘Si con Pepsi’ campaign was 100% developed, created, and produced in DDB Centro. That campaign went worldwide – making me proud of the people I work with. 

I believe that there is an opportunity for success within every brief or project we receive, and our commitment to excellence allows us to differentiate from other agencies around the globe.

LBB> DDB FTW also has a presence in Guatemala - was 2022 a big year for that side of the business? Will gaming be an even bigger sector in 2023? 

Hector> FTW started strong when initially launched, but cultural and financial changes in 2022 have slowed down projects within this sector – at least in our region. There are still many fears and a lack of knowledge regarding the correct execution of gaming projects. We face challenges as an industry since the data generated is different. The way to measure success for such projects is not the same as what clients are used to with traditional media ROI measurements. Furthermore, new regulations, tools, and monetisation formats must be generated to comply with and protect brands within the metaverse area. 

It is an industry that will become huge, yet economic fears of 2023, combined with the pressure faced by all brands to execute more with less, have created a challenge. Brands must view gaming as a strategic pillar of communication rather than purely a niche activity. At FTW, we will continue pushing all projects that present gaming opportunities while educating customers through conferences and trends to reduce uncertainty around this growing field.

LBB> What projects or business developments are you looking forward to in 2023? 

Hector> We are looking forward to a very exciting 2023 with ambitious plans for expanding our client base and portfolio of projects beyond Guatemala. We have also invested in new creative talents at all levels, hailing from countries such as Colombia, Spain, Peru, Argentina, and Venezuela, all in pursuit of creating impactful work throughout the region. We are participating in two pitches for regional brands located in Puerto Rico and Panama – an excellent opportunity to start the year!

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DDB Latina, Fri, 24 Mar 2023 17:24:00 GMT