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MullenLowe SSP3’s Launch into Mexico: “A Match Made in Heaven”

Advertising Agency
Bogotá, Colombia
LBB’s Addison Capper chats with CEO Jorge Obregón about launching the extremely successful Colombian outpost of MullenLowe Group into the Mexican market

Last month MullenLowe Group announced that MullenLowe SSP3, its globally renowned and extremely successful Colombian outpost, was launching in Mexico. "Mexico is one of the most important markets in the world and we want to be at the forefront of its advertising industry," said Francisco Samper, regional president and CEO for LATAM, at the time. "We are committed to a very ambitious transformation of our offering, which began a few months ago when we hired Rafael Domínguez as the new chief creative officer. He is a great professional, highly recognised in the industry for his brilliant career."

The CEO of the agency is Jorge Obregón, who is joined on the leadership team by Rafael, also known by his nickname ‘Creaturón’, and CSO Martha Soler. To find out more about the ambitions for SSP3 in Mexico, LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Jorge and Rafael. 

LBB> Why did you make this move at this moment?


Jorge> To the world, Mexico is the iconic Latin American market. It is rich in both culture and population size, ideal for the development of global brands but also, and probably most importantly, it is the headquarters for big multi-latin companies which compete in today’s world. Hence, it has a huge business potential for the marketing and advertising industry, where we move, and fortunately we have clients of both of those types in our client roster.

We are placing a strong bet on being able to contribute to their and all of our clients’ success in such an important market on the global scene, which is why we have begun this transformation to offer our ‘world class’ practises in the many disciplines of marketing communications. 

LBB> When did discussions first begin with regards to SSP3 launching in Mexico? What inspired those discussions?


Jorge> The Mexican and Colombian agencies have had a long term relationship of strong collaboration. As the two largest markets in Spanish speaking Latin America, Mexico and Colombia are often involved in large projects for regional or even global clients, such as Unilever and Bayer, to name just a couple.

Mexico is a key market for the network. MullenLowe SSP3 Colombia is one of our most successful agencies in the world so we decided to replicate the already proven agency model into the Mexican office. The decision was immediate. The whole conversation began at the end of 2021, and we have managed to move fast to scale up the model and begin this new integrated journey into the Mexican market. 

LBB> Why did the SSP3 move make sense? Why not just revamp the Mexican outpost in a more traditional way?


Jorge> We do not believe in doing things in the traditional way. We have a challenger mindset as an agency, and this was the perfect opportunity to challenge conventions. The SSP3 name has a story of success and we in Mexico are also aiming to deliver a successful story for the agency and for our clients’ business. The transition has been very smooth as we already shared the same mindset, but now we are running a collaborative model between both offices to expand our LATAM footprint and extend our offering into a more hyper bundled service that integrates both intimacy and scale. 

We are transforming the operation to expand our offering and reapply best practises from MullenLowe SSP3 Colombia, which has a very clear creative vocation. We have brought in Rafael Domíguez, who is one of the best creatives in Mexico, together with Martha Soler, one of the great advertising strategists in Mexico and myself, now in the role of CEO, will form a leadership triangle that will no doubt start writing a new story in the Mexican and Latin American advertising scene.


LBB> Tell me about MullenLowe Mexico before it became SSP3 - what was the agency like? What were its strong points but also its weaknesses?

Jorge> From its origins as a local creative boutique, the Mexican agency has focused on bringing a human approach to the way we service the business. We have our most senior team always involved in the work and this is very important because there is always someone with the right level of experience behind everything we do. We have an enviable client roster and have had since our early beginnings. We’ve worked for some of the most well-known advertisers and for regional and global brands, have consistently done very solid work for many clients, and, consequently, have held long relationships with many of them. On the downside, we’ve held a relatively low profile throughout the years and probably have not exploited well enough the success cases we’ve built together with our clients to climb up the awareness ladder and attract more prospects. This will change with our new SSP3 way of working.

LBB> How will the agency operate as part of SSP3? Will it be an independent entity or work very closely with the office in Colombia?


Jorge and Rafael> The Mexico office will work independently with the support from the regional leadership. The SSP3 naming comes naturally as a synergetic effort. A couple of months have gone by with this new approach, and we have already worked on a couple of projects in complete synergy between the Mexico and Colombia offices, proving that today all borders have been erased and great work can be delivered from any place. We aim to keep this new integrated and collaborative model up and running. 

LBB> How will you work together as leaders of this venture?


Jorge> My background and experience is more anchored on the business side of the equation. I started my career working in marketing for multinational FMCG companies, so I have a clear understanding of client’s needs and how communication efforts need to drive results. I’ve been part of the MullenLowe network for 11 years and I have been able to witness how strong creative ideas can drive great business results. This is why Rafael Dominguez AKA ‘Creaturón’ is the perfect complement for this venture. Rafa is a creative genius. He has been able to work with most of the best creative minds in the Mexican industry for over 26 years. He is a multi-awarded creative and mostly a great leader and person, so he is the best partner that we can think of to drive this transformation.

Rafael> At the beginning of our respective careers, one of the founders of this agency told us that Jorge and I were made to work together. However, that was something that hadn't happened until now. And the truth is, we both feel it as an authentic ‘match made in heaven’. Jorge is a marketing businessman who really values ​​and enjoys creativity, and I am a creative who ran his own company for six years, so I know and understand the business pretty well. Therefore, we complement each other perfectly. I know it's strange to find your ‘dupla’ at this point in our careers, but that's exactly what's happening to us.

LBB> What do you think SSP3 can bring to the Mexican market? What can make it unique in the country?


Jorge> MullenLowe SSP3 Colombia is one of the most awarded agencies in Latin America, both in creativity and in effectiveness, not to mention also innovation. And it is not only the enormous talent that has accompanied that agency for 25 years since it was founded, but it is also in the way the agency works, and how it approaches every client’s brief, valuing the idea, its strength and uniqueness above everything else. I believe that bringing the best leadership and talent, which understands the local consumer dynamics, integrated with this new way of working will drive a new era for MullenLowe SSP3 Mexico.

LBB> What are your main aims and ambitions as leaders of SSP3 Mexico?


Jorge> We want to double the business in the next three years by strengthening our offering, expanding our expertise into other areas and by being recognised as one of the top 10 creative agencies in the market. To be able to achieve such a transformation we will rely on the best talent, and we are confident that we have it. 

LBB> Tell me about Mexican advertising in general at the moment - what are your thoughts? Is it in a healthy state?


Jorge> Mexican advertising has been thriving for the last 10 years, but competition is fiercer than ever. From traditional agency models that are beginning to transform their offering to digital small shops that have started to arise and the new-coming global agencies betting on a local operation, now clients have the option to choose from a vast number of agency options. We see this as an interesting challenge because we will need to bring the best work to stand out. 


LBB> How is the economy faring with regards to Covid-19? And how is this affecting clients and advertising?


Jorge> The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted things in two fronts. 

Firstly, we needed to adapt our way of work and processes as we moved into a complete remote collaborative model. Fortunately, we had the technology in place to make it work fast and comply with our clients’ needs. On the downside, this change has been a major challenge when it comes to culture, especially for newcomers that have found it more difficult to engage into the organisation’s philosophy. We are planning to make a soft hybrid return to the office. We believe the best ideas are fostered when people come together, so for some agency practises, we will be encouraging face-to-face interaction. 

Secondly, when it comes to consumers the pandemic has changed the way people relate to brands and products. We see the world is moving into a hybrid model. From the way we work, to the way we buy, to the way we relate with each other. This has boosted the acceleration of digital transformation. Businesses that can adapt to the new normal digitalised world will thrive while those that cannot catch up will probably fade away.

LBB> What other big trends are driving the market in Mexico?


Jorge> Digitalisation and e-commerce. We see these as the main trends to address. Online purchases in Mexico have increased over 80% vs last year mainly driven by the pandemic. This acceleration has opened a world of opportunity for marketers and agencies. We can tap into the way consumers are purchasing products in a fast effective way and we can now measure it all. Convenience is the name of the game. Digital consumers are savvier. They know what to look for and where, so we need to be able to tap into this new dynamic by delivering the right messages in the right channels at the right moment - precision marketing. Other trends that are beginning to gain traction have to do with AI. We have seen the integration of conversational marketing through AI, and this will keep getting better and better. The conversation behind Web3 and how the power of content will be decentralised is also fascinating with a complete focus on creators and tokenization.

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