By Patrick Haller
Landlocked between heavy-hitters Argentina, Brazil and capped by Peru, Paraguay is not yet a viable Nearshore destination. Yet, with over 80% of the population below 30 and an appealing tax regime – Paraguay is not the backwater many people might assume. To get a real world perspective, we checked in with a fast-growing digital media agency with A-list US clients, that belies the typical stereotype of this often overlooked South American nation.
Making Dreams Reality
“We started the company when we were 21 and 22 years old. We both lived with our parents and we didn’t have many obligations,” said Weiberlen. “Those first five years were tough and hard to understand the business, but it was at a comfortable time. It was like a little laboratory and we learned more about the business with small clients and then attracted larger clients.”
Weiberlen and his business partner Camilo Guanes chose the name ONIRIA/TBWA as it is derived from the word “oneiric,” meaning the ideal state of dreams. “We are a group of dreamers, people who follow dreams and make them real,” he explained. “Our vision is to make the things we never believed we could do. That’s our goal, that’s the idea that makes us think differently, to look for new answers and try to see the future in every project we take.” This philosophy has attracted clients like Coca Cola, the World Wildlife Fund, Nivea, the Red Cross and T-Mobile who have responded to ONIRIA/TBWA’s success with forming connections through their unique design approach and understanding of the consumer market.
Sustainable and Fruitful Growth
“During the past 11 years we have had sustainable growth,” said Weiberlen, “now we have 40 employees. Our vision of the business is that advertising must reach beyond production and we take the place of strategic partners within the client’s business. We give ideas to the clients to grow their business.” In order to provide services they aren’t able to, such as mobile apps and digital technology, ONIRIA/TBWA partners with other companies. However, given the limited Paraguayan market for products like Iphones, there has been very little call for them to develop such products and the agency concentrates on social media, web platforms, websites and online videos.
This year ONIRIA/TBWA started working with an educational NGO that didn’t know how to communicate everything they do to the public. When they approached ONIRIA/TBWA for a traditional campaign, the creatives at the agency went to the street to find out exactly what people knew about their client. While some did know about the work, they didn’t know what they did with the money. Rather than launch a standard advertising campaign, ONIRIA/TBWA created a TV program for the NGO which was funded through sponsorships. “Now they have good positioning, a good time slot and money,” said Weiberlen.
ONIRIA/TBWA also takes an innovative approach to employee recruitment. In addition to trying to get the best local talent who know the brands and who are able to contribute “ideas that seduce people,” Weiberlen explained they also look at the bigger creative picture that encompasses not only designers but also musicians, artists, writers for a great mix of people from different disciplines. They also hire people from other countries and currently have representatives of seven different nationalities working in the agency, including France, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.
“The other thing that is important for us is that the person must have a hobby, a life outside of the company.” Weiberlen stressed, “They must have something that inspires them because we want people who have a life outside of the company and a hobby is something that you do from passion. Maybe it is a very little thing for the world, but it something important for them and for us. It keeps them motivated.”
ONIRIA/TBWA is also working on a campaign for the Paraguayan government to attract investment and tourism while promoting a creative economy derived from web development and design services that will be exported to other countries.
(This story – like many we do – was generated through the extensive reach of the Nearshore Americas’ professional network. We thank Fabrizio Opertti, an executive with the InterAmerican Development Bank for enlightening us on Paraguay’s assets.)