February 21, 2001

Dallas-based Grupo Samba has officially launched operations as an independent firm offering integrated marketing services specializing in the US Hispanic market. The firm had been incepted and began operations as Dieste & Partners' interactive unit.

Samba Interactive, as the unit was initially named, was the interactive agency of record for Hispanic portal Yupi.com, Spanish auction house De Remate.com and online greeting card shop Esaludo.com. The initial concept was to develop a fully interactive agency that could service the Hispanic dot coms, as well as the interactive components of brick and mortar clients. Juan Faura, the former Director of Global Strategy at Silicon Valley-based consulting firm Cheskin, was brought on board to head up the unit. According to Faura, Hispanic interactive dollars quickly dried up after the collapse of general market dot coms. "We were fortunate in that we were able to tell very early on that the Hispanic interactive market would not be sufficient to support a purely interactive play," he said. While the Hispanic interactive market dried up, other avenues seemed to open up. Samba Interactive was expanded to include research and consulting, advertising services, direct marketing and project-based broadcast and print production. "It was then that we decided to take out the interactive from the name and concentrate in filling the gaps traditionally encountered in US Hispanic marketing and Grupo Samba was born," Faura, now president of the company, said.

After being selected the agency of record for the Direct Marketing arm of JC Penney, the agency has done research and consulting work for Neutrogena, Hershey, Pepsi, H&R Block, Mountain Dew, Pizza Hut and Frito Lay. Most recently the agency was selected as the agency of record for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). In addition to developing Spanish-language communications the agency also has plans to develop marketing for US Hispanics in English "I think we are just scratching the surface when we develop Spanish-language media. There is more, a lot more out there that we need to address bilingually or in English. We have no problem functioning as an agency in either language," Faura said.

Operations of the interactive unit began in Dieste & Partners' offices in May of 2000. Grupo Samba evolved into a separate company in January of 2001. The first-year agency estimates annual billings of $10 million dollars.

While Dieste & Partners and Grupo Samba have a strategic alliance with Omincom they both remain independently owned.

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