INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Red Latina forges network to thwart 'gringo' PR shops

BUENOS AIRES: Red Latina has signed up 10 PR firms from South America, Cuba, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium to thwart non-Latino agencies competing for business in the region.

BUENOS AIRES: Red Latina has signed up 10 PR firms from South America, Cuba, Spain, Portugal and Belgium to thwart non-Latino agencies competing for business in the region.

Red Latina is an all-Latino network formed earlier this year by Cesar Mansilla, CEO of Nueva Comunicacion, in response to the growing number of 'gringo' PR firms seeking business in the region. The idea was hatched in May during a meeting at Mansilla's country home in Argentina.

Since 1990, North American PR powerhouses Fleishman-Hillard, Hill & Knowlton, Weber, and Porter Novelli have all made major inroads into Latin America, establishing offices or affiliates to conduct business in the region.

Burson-Marsteller opened an outpost in Argentina in the 1970s.

The Jeffrey Group president and CEO, Jeffrey Sharlach, questioned Mansilla's opposition to non-Latino PR firms. 'Our offices in Argentina are staffed by Argentineans,' he said. 'My guess is most other agencies are doing the same.'

PN CEO Bob Druckenmiller, who was traveling in Brazil and Chile recently, said he didn't feel threatened by the new Latin PR network. 'They may get some strength locally, but from an international perspective I think it will not be directly competitive with us.'

Druckenmiller added that PN's Latin American partners have an advantage over Latino-centric firms because they can tap the agency's business beyond Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries. 'A lot of partners in Latin America benefit. They have a chance to fuse both business and ideas outside (Latin America) which, I think, makes you a richer partner.'

To this, Mansilla reportedly responded that only Latinos understand the way the media and politics function in Latin countries.

In order to remain competitive with the global firms, Red Latina agency members plan to share accounts, clients and new business. The network is said to be actively recruiting additional agencies in Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, and Italy.

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