March 20, 2013  by MGSCOMM

Manuel Machado and Al Garcia-Serra: MGS Comm’s 21st century mad men

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By VOXXI (originally published March 20, 2013)

Life is good for Manuel Machado and Al Garcia-Serra, two 21st century mad men: Their advertising agency, MGS Comm, is all grown up.

MGS is turning 10 years old this month, and in that time, it has acquired an impressive and varied array of clients, from HBO Latino, to the Hispanic “Got milk?” campaign, to—most recently—the Miami Marlins.

Machado credits good opportunities in the marketplace and being in the right place at the right time with the agency’s success.

“Having a partnership such as ours has been complementary, and we have been able to work well with our partners all these years,” he added.

The company has grown greatly in the last decade, and now has offices in New York City and Mexico City. That is great if expectations are fulfilled: The forecast for the Hispanic media market in the United States looks good, according to Garcia-Serra.

“We think that the next five years are going to be a booming five years for the market,” Garcia-Serra told VOXXI. “I think that as immigration laws come into place, I think we will see a boom—not only in our business but in spending power of Hispanics in the U.S.”

MGS has seen a boom in recent years already. In 2007, annual agency billings were nearly $59 million. Last year, that number was $85 million. The agency was able to add 45 staff members to its roster last year.

“It’s something that we didn’t really expect, based on the economy in 2009,” Garcia-Serra said. “To have this success was really unexpected and really wonderful.”

Machado functions as the agency’s CEO, while Garcia-Serra is MGS’s chief operating officer. Their hard work has gotten MGS to where it is today, ranked last year by Advertising Age among the top 25 Hispanic ad agencies in the United States, in addition to being named among the top 100 spots of Hispanic Business‘s 500 largest Hispanic-owned companies in the country. The two chairmen of MGS consider themselves fortunate to have found such success, they said. The journey has surpassed their expectations.

They make it seem easy, but Machado and Garcia-Serra consider their jobs an uphill challenge. As the Hispanic market grows, more factors—such as social media—come into play. The opportunity is greater, Machado says, but identifying the consumer is more and more challenging.

“As long as I have worked in the Hispanic market, someone is always saying, a) [the Hispanic market] will assimilate, b) that no, it won’t assimilate, it will continue to grow,” Machado said. “We know that it will continue to grow, by virtue of the American dream, there’s always going to be immigration that is Spanish-dominant to the United States, and so as marketers and brand builders, which is what we do, we have to adapt to those changes, to continue to identify new segments within the segment.”

“The challenge is to talk in two languages and make sense in two languages,” Garcia-Serra said.

Looking ahead, he and Machado are optimistic and hope to keep building on what they have already accomplished.

“We are chameleons, we will change and evolve,” Machado said. “Ten years ago, the digital world was not part of our world and today it is essencial and part of our growth plans for the future.”

“We see the new generation coming on, where we can pass the baton for the next 10 years, and they’re surpassing whatever goals they have, we see the new breed and the new generation, the new MGS Comm of the future,” Garcia-Serra said.


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