International News: Closure of Argentina's long-standing PR firm Aja Espil & Asociados comes as surprise to other local agencies

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Aja Espil & Asociados, the oldest PR agency in Argentina, has closed its doors.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Aja Espil & Asociados, the oldest PR agency in Argentina, has closed its doors.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Aja Espil & Asociados, the oldest PR agency in Argentina, has closed its doors.

Its founder and president, 70-year-old Rodolfo Aja Espil, is seriously ill and has been unable to take care of the business since the beginning of the year. The local PR scene was surprised this week by the news that severance packages were already in place for its nine remaining executives.

But the biggest surprise for most Argentine PR practitioners was that there has been no serious effort made by his heirs, nor by his employees, to save the brand by selling to a multinational PR consultancy or an established local firm.

'It was really surprising to me, since I expected a better solution for such a traditional brand,' said Alejandro Zaia, president of local powerhouse ZC&M.

Aja lost several accounts this year, but sources close to the agency still put its sales volume at half a million pesos (dollars 500,000) a year.

Aja's original partners separated during the 1990s to launch their own PR firms: Juan Carlos Lynch later sold his agency to Porter Novelli and Federico Baraldo is now a partner in Baraldo Dell'Oro Trigo. Both rank within the top 10, much higher than Aja.

The local market now has its eyes on Alan McCrea Steele, the former CEO of Aja, who was brought in from Edelman Miami to lead the agency.

Sources say Steele has had several offers to join some of Aja's former rivals, since he could shore up the closed firm's former clients and executives.





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