Portada: Is the possible sale of Razorfish by Microsoft going to impact Razorfish's expansion strategy in Latin America (e.g. if Razorfish gets bought by Publicis)
Joe Crump: “The recent headlines about the sale of Razorfish were just rumors. These types of rumors have been floating around for a few years now. We expect this sort of buzz to persist because we are a valuable company. In fact, Razorfish remains an independent subsidiary of Microsoft, but because we are such a sought after company, Microsoft is often approached by prospective buyers. We are happy to be part of Microsoft.”
Can you give us an update of Razorfish expansion in Latam. Has the Brazil office been established, how many employees does it have. What clients is it working with?
“The last few months have been extremely busy for us, as we prepare to enter the region. We have done a great deal of research – looking back at the successes and failures of other agencies that have expanded here, as well as talking to lots of potential clients about their needs. We’d like to avoid some of the missteps from the past, and to design an offering that’s tailored to the needs of clients in the region. In other words, we’re not simply intending to clone one of our offices from North America or Europe.
We are in the process of hunting for office space in Sao Paulo even as we speak. We’re looking for a great space that’s on-brand for us, and will accommodate a staff of 50-60 in the first year, with room to grow.
One of the things we heard loud and clear from clients in the region is that they are hungry for strategic support and industry expertise, whether in automotive, retail, consumer packaged goods, financial services, media and entertainment, and many other verticals. As part of the 2200-person Razorfish network, we’ll be able to offer clients blended teams with strong local creative and design, paired with industry experts from throughout Razorfish.
We continue to be extremely proud of our relationship with Terra Networks throughout Latin America. They are extraordinary friends and partners in our growth in the region. In addition to Terra, the Razorfish client list is comprised of dozens of global brands who are looking for advanced digital services in Latin America, and we’re currently discussing ways our new regional presence will help drive their business goals.”
What other markets are you approaching and how?
“We are still exploring various options for a pan-regional service model. Brazil is already underway, and in addition, we expect to serve both Argentina and Mexico – as major digital markets – within the next 12-18 months. Different strategies are under consideration for establishing this service model, with the final decision determined by where our clients prefer to be serviced. At the highest level, however, we intend to deliver large-scale digital projects throughout the region, in line with the expectations clients would have of the Razorfish brand. As in Brazil, our best client is a big brand who understands the power of digital to create amazing customer experiences and drive business performance – and we think there are plenty of those in both Mexico and Argentina, as well as Brazil.”
In terms of the stage it is in? Do you think that the Latam digital media market is homogeneous or very different depending on the country?
“The Latin American digital media market is extremely diverse. Brazil is, of course, its own market because of the language and its scale, and the near-monopoly of a tiny number of media companies. E-commerce is huge in Chile, and Argentina is the region’s leader in Mobile. Each country’s digital media market has its own unique characteristics which make it impossible for an agency to use a single cookie-cutter strategy to service clients in the region.“
Analysts say that there often is not enough Spanish -language content on the Internet, to what extent is that holding up the development of digital advertising in Latam?
“This is true, of course. The rest of the world has not quite caught up to understanding the size and velocity of the Spanish-language market. But I think there is an even bigger opportunity for brands to think beyond advertising – digital or otherwise – in creating relationships with customers. Publishers are incredibly important, and I believe they will continue to grow, but I think that the definition of “digital content” needs to be expanded far beyond the boundaries of portals and other publishing sites. Brands need to use digital media, and the digital mindset, to create their own content and their own brand experiences. Brands need to stop telling and start doing, and digital is the only medium where that’s really possible.”
You recently mentioned that in the U.S. , Asia and Europe the average expenditure of major companies per Internet users lies at $118, this ratio only amounts to $21 in Latin America. What needs to be done so that that ratio increases in Latam? By when do you see Latam closer to U.S. spending levels?
“This disparity in the digital spend is a huge problem. It’s problematic for the digital industry, of course. But even more importantly, it reflects a fundamental disconnect between brands and their consumers. This is one of the most advanced digital populations on the planet in the use of social media, use of email, use of instant messaging, amount of time spent online. The people of Latin America lead the rest of the world in almost all categories. And yet brands are investing 80% less here online than they would in Europe or the US to reach the same consumer.
The good news is that this is a problem with a short lifespan. Sooner or later – and we think sooner – brands are going to be expecting more accountability and more targeting from their campaigns, and this is something that TV and print cannot accomplish. The crisis is, in fact, accelerating this demand. Very soon all media will be digital media, and all advertising will be digital advertising. The natural evolution of the world is heading toward digital, and our job is just to accelerate the process by helping educate clients about the possibilities. “