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Last month, Havas FORMULATIN was named Agency of the Year at the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) BRAVO! Awards. The award-winning national Hispanic PR agency also picked up three awards, bringing its lifetime tally to 16—making it the most lauded agency in the award show’s history. 

Michael Olguin, CEO of Havas FORMULATIN, shares what it takes to get to the top, why brands need to understand the new Latino consumer, and the rise of a new microconsumer market: “Hispennials.”

You had a big night at this year’s HRPA BRAVO! Awards. How does it feel to be at the top?

It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve always felt our FORMULATIN team has done amazing work, but it’s nice to be recognized by both the industry and our peers. We’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing brands over the years, and that includes TurboTax and Golden Boy Promotions, for which we won campaign awards this year. Historically, we have always been focused on addressing our clients’ needs with smart, creative, and results-oriented programs that help grow their business within the Latino market. Winning awards for the work we do, and the agency we’ve become, is just icing on the cake.

What can you tell us about the agency’s success story over the past 11 years?

I believe one of the reasons why we have been successful is our deep understanding of Latino consumers and their acculturation journey. Whether we are targeting recent immigrants or ambicultural consumers, we understand their passion points, purchasing behavior, language preferences, and media consumption. Furthermore, our team has always been comprised of bilingual and bicultural practitioners from different cultural backgrounds, which is instrumental in understanding the various nuances of Latino subcultures.

Our team takes great pride in their heritage. Maria Amor, who runs our FORMULATIN practice, epitomizes the new Latino consumer—born in Mexico and working hard to carry on traditions such as food, language, and rituals with her family. 

In the last year, what do you think has been the agency’s biggest accomplishment(s)?

The program we launched on behalf of Intuit’s TurboTax has grown each of the past three years and helped generate 14% growth during this last tax season. Over the past three years, it has won five BRAVO! Awards, becoming the PR program TurboTax is most proud of. It doesn’t get much better than that.  

Havas FORMULATIN is dedicated to developing PR programs for clients seeking to connect with the incredibly influential U.S. Latino community. Why is a culturally relevant Hispanic and multicultural strategy a must for brands and marketers today?

By 2020 there are expected to be 60 million Latino consumers, making them the fastest-growing consumer segment in the country. This audience has a spending power of $1.7 trillion and is looking for brands that understand their cultural nuances. It is no longer just about delivering campaigns in Spanish, but rather leading with insights that reflect the lifestyle of this demographic. Brands need to truly understand this unique consumer in order to build genuinely relevant programs. Our approach is to educate and then immerse our clients in the marketplace through research and understanding. This leads to more creative programs that resonate with target audiences and drive greater buy-in.

Agency culture is a huge part of your success. How do you motivate the team to keep driving client business forward?

I look at employees and clients very similarly: you want to work with people you like (or have a beer with, as I sometimes like to say). Our agency culture has been at the heart of the company since the beginning. We have always strived to create a place where people are challenged yet have fun; where they feel valued each day but can also see a future filled with opportunity. I think our transparent operations, staff programs, and the ability for all to contribute to the greater good has created an environment that is both motivational and rewarding. 

How do you promote teamwork?

Collaboration is really at the crux of everything we do. While we have numerous divisions within the agency, teams often have the opportunity to work together, particularly on integrated programs. In addition to team-building initiatives and internal forms of recognition, one of the agency’s most beloved programs is Trading Places, a creative employee-sharing program that allows individuals to work on another team in a different office for three weeks. It’s truly a win-win experience.

If there’s one piece of advice you’d give to agencies looking to be recognized as best-in-class in their local markets, what would it be?

Recognition comes from doing amazing work and that only happens when you understand the needs of a client and deliver smart programs that drive results. Delivering this on a consistent basis with many clients in a variety of categories leads to greater recognition. Though we are extremely proud of the recognition, I’m prouder of the team and the work they do each and every day. 

What’s next for the agency?

We are in the planning stages of doing a deep-dive study into the Hispanic millennial—we call them “Hispennials.” This segment of the Latino marketplace is highly desirable to brands because they are smart, educated, growing in affluence and brand loyalty. However, they are also the most complex to reach, given their acculturation level. Thus, we are looking to become the leading authority on this microconsumer market.

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