A New Chapter in Times of COVID-19

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By Ingrid Smart President/CEO, Casanova//McCann

Back in March (it seems like a lifetime ago), I thought this would go away in a few weeks once we all followed directions and took care of each other. It didn’t. Here we are 200+ days in, with no end in sight. We have learned more than we wanted about the virus and social distancing. And we have learned that we can work from home, shoot a commercial from a distance, develop a new idea in days, and pitch new business to a “room” full of squares with names.

Our people have juggled homeschooling with non-stop meetings. Some colleagues have lost their jobs and worst, have lost loved ones to this pandemic. We have quarantined with sick loved ones and watched over others from afar. A few weeks in, I started thinking about what a waste all this sacrifice would be if we went back to doing things the same way and not take advantage of our learnings. “It is time for change”, my inner voice said. “No guts, no glory”, it whispered loudly.

So last week we launched the next chapter in Casanova’s story: We bought ourselves back from our parent company and are now, thirty-something years after Paul Casanova and Viviana Pendrill founded the agency- a minority-owned company again! (in the late 90’s it had been acquired by IPG).

The last few years have brought Casanova//McCann growth with amazing Clients like Nestlé, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, US Postal Service, and many others. We have focused much energy, sweat and tears on our work, and in the past two years we were the most awarded Hispanic agency in Cannes. We have won Radio Mercury four years in a row, and we were the #1 US Hispanic agency in El Ojo de Iberoamerica in 2019, and at various other awards shows. Most recently, we won the Jury Award at Cresta.

Like everyone else, our budgets were affected by CoVid cuts although our CPG focus meant that those cuts were not crushing. Like everyone else, we have watched the news in horror and with immense sadness, seeing that the hate we thought did not exist anymore, was alive and thriving.

Like everyone else, we have wondered what the future will bring with as much uncertainty as there is in recovery.

Yet, we took this step because we know it is the right time. It is time for Latinos to control their own destiny. It is time to make a mark for ourselves. For so many years we as Hispanic marketers have had to fight for a seat at the table. Today, we choose to seat at the head of our own table!

Next year we will see the results of the Census and we do not need a crystal ball to know what they’ll show. In the last decade, we grew to 18 % of the US population and I believe that number will be upwards of 20 % in 2021. Our segment has driven the population growth for the last decade, and it will continue, likely upwards of 60%. Our impact is even higher in the younger generation cohorts, right as they enter their spending years. Today we are the 7th largest economy in the world and growing, and Corporate America will sit up and listen. Those that have invested in knowing our segment and respectfully and insightfully courting it, will reap the rewards. Many that have sat on the sidelines with excuse after excuse will have to take action or risk annihilation.

Was it easy to make the decision to go on our own? Not really but we have tremendous partners and the support of our McCann network. Are we brave, mad, or both for taking this step in these uncertain times? It has been said that courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid; it means you don’t let fear stop you. We at Casanova//McCann are not letting fear stop us. This is our time! We are proud of our heritage, grateful for what we have, and hopeful that a new era for all Latinos is about to begin.

Hispanic Star is honored to partner with Advertising Week to feature Hispanic voices during Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond.

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1 Comment
  1. Very well stated, Ingrid. Out of great challenges and pain can come great growth an opportunity with the right leadership, and you are providing the leadership that will drive Casanova to thrive to its full potential. Onward!

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