Upstart, Young Latino Ad Agency Grows on ‘La Bamba’ and Cookies

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Most people know the group Los Lobos for their title song to the popular film “La Bamba.”

For the past month, however, members of the Latino community have been seeing--and hearing--advertisements for a new album the group recently recorded in Spanish for Warner Brothers records. And the agency behind the $500,000 ad campaign for the album, “La Pistola y el Corazon,” (The Pistol and the Heart) is the Hispanic Group, a year-old Culver City company.

How did a neophyte agency land such a lucrative piece of Latino ad business? Easy. The agency’s president, Anita Santiago, had previously helped plan the promotional tour for the film “La Bamba.” And Greta Nodar, the agency’s vice president, had formerly worked at Warner Bros.

Just one year ago, Santiago and Nodar were employed by the much larger Latino ad firm, Bermudez Associates. There, Santiago was a creative director, and in 1987 won a Clio award for a Latino radio ad campaign she created for Mountain Bell. It was one of the first Clio’s ever awarded for a Latino ad campaign.


Their agency has rapidly grown from a three-person shop with billings of about $200,000 to a 12-person shop with billings of more than $1 million. Among its newest clients is Gamesa, one of Mexico’s largest cookie makers, which intends to distribute and advertise in the U.S. The new account could nearly double the agency’s business. “That should be a real challenge,” said Santiago. “We’re up to our elbows in cookies.”