CEO of Arista and a board member of ICOM, the largest international network of independent marketing, advertising and communication agencies, Enrique, founded Arista in 1996 as an advertising agency with a digital and technological approach. With the aid of the management team, Enrique guided Arista’s growth and expansion in Spain’s largest cities until becoming the largest privately-owned agency in the country.
In 2009, he embarked on the international expansion of Arista, opening the first international office in Miami, followed by Mexico DF and Lima. Enrique is currently in the throes of implementing a strategic plan for the expansion and consolidation of Arista as an agency engaged in the provision of comprehensive communications services in the Spanish, Latin American and Spanish-speaking U.S. markets.
- You work in the communication market, offering comprehensive services that include advertising, PR and digital marketing, among others, and are therefore competing with large multinationals. What is your strategy for differentiating yourselves from these competitors?
Large multinational companies may offer the same services but they never do so in an integrated way. Let me elaborate on that… although they had integrated services back in the 1960s, ‘70s and even the ‘80s, before the advent of the Internet and social media but when other marketing disciplines did exist, they began by separating media buying and ended up splitting up PR, direct marketing and event organisation, etc. Of all these, perhaps the only one it makes sense to separate is media buying because it has more in common with the finance business than the world of ideas.
Therefore, multinationals have all these services, but they are organised into watertight compartments, with no real connection between them. And so they may be able to offer these services separately, but not in an integrated way like Arista does, which is why our differentiation strategy is more a way of understanding communication, something that is part of our DNA.
- What are Arista’s competitive advantages over its rivals?
The main advantage is that we are able to address a company’s communication needs in a completely neutral way. That is to say, we do not have a biased approach to the needs of that company, we approach them from the most appropriate disciplines in each case. Ours is an integration of disciplines, starting with strategy definition, not strategy implementation, which is what usually occurs.
- You have managed to achieve much higher growth than other Spanish companies and become a leader in the national arena. What strategy did you use to accomplish this?
While it might sound strange, we did not really have any strategy. We are a large group of people with common concerns and we have a similar view of what contemporary communication should be; we do what we like and enjoy what we do and want to continue doing it in the future. And we have the will and the strength to continue growing and to transfer the model in which we believe. This is what has made us what we are today.
- You are present in the U.S., Mexico and Peru. What criteria do you use when deciding what countries or markets to enter?
Our first international destination was Miami because it is the perfect gateway between the Spanish-speaking U.S. market and South America, which we wanted to enter. Why was that? Firstly, opportunity; we understood, and are being proved right, that there was great potential in these two markets for an integrated communication model with a significant digital component like ours. The second reason was cultural. In a business like ours, language is essential. Therefore, despite the differences that exist between Spain and South America, it was easier for us to begin expansion in countries where we are not going to encounter a language barrier.
Next came Mexico for obvious market and language reasons and I must say the experience could not be more positive. A little later there was Peru, given that we wanted to have a presence in the Andean region and, after considering Bogotá and Lima, we opted for the latter as we were convinced that it offered greater potential on account of the market situation and growth prospects.
- What promotional strategy is the brand pursuing in international markets?
In new markets we are primarily creating awareness by having a presence at major events, where our experts in the different areas of communication give talks and seminars. At the same time, we are trying to be very selective about our first customers and projects, as they will generate word of mouth in the market and be our best source of publicity. The combination of these two things is producing very good results.
- What are the challenges facing Arista over the next five years?
Our challenge is to continue growing in Spain and to consolidate our presence in the South American and Spanish-speaking U.S. markets by opening new offices.
- What does a company like Arista need in order to continue growing abroad?
In our opinion, there are two key elements for growing abroad. Firstly, the people. A company is a culture and if it is to grow abroad, it needs talented people who want to spread this culture to other countries. And the second thing is financial resources. To go abroad, you need to have the necessary resources; otherwise it is very difficult to enter foreign markets.
- You rely heavily on creative and technological innovation and talented people. How important is the brand to the company?
We work in the world of branding because we firmly believe in it; therefore a sector like ours, that is, services and technology, is not going to be any less important. There is sometimes a tendency to invest less in brands outside of the consumer goods sector, but we are absolutely convinced that the brand is everything to a company, irrespective of the sector.