Somewhat tired of the policies surrounding international companies, brothers José and Joaquín Mollá left behind their prestigious backgrounds in important advertising companies to create La Comunidad. Their career paths included years of experience as creative directors at Ratto/BBDO (Buenos Aires) and Wieden+Kennedy (Portland, Amsterdam and London) in the case of José, and at Ratto/BBDO (Buenos Aires) and AMV/BBDO (London) in the case of Joaquín.
Their creative studio opened with one foot in Miami and another in Buenos Aires. It was 2001, a time in which boutique agencies had not yet emerged in Argentina and the possibility of crossing borders had not been explored.
José and Joaquín—whose work led them to serve on the jury at Cannes and other recognized festivals—would become pioneers in the field. Shortly after founding La Comunidad, two industry colleagues joined them from Argentina’s capital city: Ramiro Raposo and Fernando Sosa, who both serve as creative general director and general manager.
According to Sosa, La Comunidad marks the invention of boutique agencies in Argentina. It operates as “the creative partner of brands, which establishes what is going to be relevant in coming years.”
Sosa is convinced that being based within two cultures is a competitive advantage for the studio’s development.
“Whenever there is a pitch in Argentina, it is good to have the strategic contribution and views from Miami, for example. What really works is combining Argentina’s playfulness and wit with American methodology,” he explains.
The company benefits from two cultures that generate two different growth strategies.
“[In Buenos Aires] we grow in quality,” says Sosa. “We are never more than 35 people, but we want to be the best 35.” In Miami, where inflation challenges don’t have the same impact on hiring, growth lies in staff expansion.
Thus, the spirit of La Comunidad, which has just opened a new office in London and will open another in New York, is always combining cultures to create what its name stands for: ‘community.’
Events such as Miami’s Art Basel are key to this strategy.
“The important thing has always been the combination with what is happening in the art world,” says Sosa. “Now we are adding a more contextual element.” Just as La Comunidad developed ideas from places like Art Basel, Sosa is also looking for inspiration from the motivations and experiences from society.
The studio saw a surge in success after eight years, when La Comunidad took a more business-like approach, without becoming bureaucratic.
“We moved away from the utopian vision of the first years,” says Sosa.
The first big leap came with Volkswagen, “[a client] that helped us transition from being a very exclusive agency that was unbelievable in terms of art, to having a large, more popular and accessible brand,” says Sosa.
For several years, La Comunidad designed the identity of all its products, from low to high range. This is something that Sosa remembers as “the Volkswagen peak.”
Argentina’s Presidential Office is another major client in the studio’s portfolio. This year, La Comunidad created a comprehensive campaign for the Ministry of Tourism that invites people to discover the Argentina that exists off the beaten track, with destinations such as the Calchaquíes valleys, Iberá wetlands and Córdoba mountain range.
The client’s brief focused on the concept “Argentina is waiting for you,” and La Comunidad suggested evolving the idea into showing a country that’s full of adventure.
“We wanted to move away from the still frame and the picturesque character of each place and change the paradigm of tourism communication, showing people having a great time, as well as diverse parts of the country,” says Sosa.
“The commercial spots elevate the campaign so that it stands out from other tourism campaigns. The response [to the spots] has been very positive at the sectoral level,” according to a statement by the Undersecretary for Broadcast Content at the national presidential office.
Rolling Stone magazine is another client. According to Sosa, one of the most appealing concepts used in the work was that of “question everything,” which plays out in several spots like the one below. The spots capture the youthful attitude of the rock culture that defines the magazine.
In terms of its TV portfolio, the agency’s work with MTV remains some of its most relevant. La Comunidad went through three different creative stages for the channel.
First, the agency depicted the brand from a cool identity perspective. Then, working with a station known as only a music video channel, La Comunidad incorporated MTV’s reality shows and interviews to demonstrate the channel was more than just music, it was an attitude, as in the piece below.
In a third stage, the channel wanted to target audiences that no longer watched television, so the studio focused on content development, creating the character of a mouse that was presented on television but also existed as an online series. The Spooky Show launched in 2012 at a time when webseries did not yet exist.
More recently, La Comunidad created a campaign for the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Film—BAFICI 2017.
“We are constantly concerned about reviews, vegan food, likes and filters. In this kind of world, we wanted to promote a festival where the content was a bit more compelling,” says Sosa.
Another recent campaign focuses on skin cancer for LALCEC, the Argentine League against Cancer. According to Sandra Rodríguez, head of institutional relations at LALCEC, “the concept
was first to depict the mole as the bad guy that can turn out to be a murderer—something that the studio addressed from the perspective of social prejudice, which we must overcome—and ends with the truly important message of caring for our health.”
The studio also worked on the campaign for letgo, the buy and sell mobile app that is part of the online marketplace OLX. For this, La Comunidad divided the brand in two: the rational part, which explained the mechanics of the application; and the passionate part, shown through an aesthetic and whimsical world.
“The challenge was not only to show that we were different at the product level, but also that we were different in our communication style,” says Federico Vázquez, CMO OLX LATAM.
“From the beginning, the studio captured the essence of the brand and presented a creative proposal that agreed with what we wanted to communicate.”
Overall, Sosa says La Comunidad is a studio driven by different cultures, and although having only 16 years of experience, the future of advertising is the same as it was 50 years ago.
“It’s all about looking for a relevant way to connect the brand with the consumer,” he says.
“Today, studios have somehow lost ground because there is always someone digital on the table. But when the trend is over and [brands] realize that a digital company does not have the ability to seriously project a brand, that it is only one more tool, they will return to the source. For me, the future is the past.”
Version español: Creative Review: La Comunidad