The beginning of PACO: How the agency began
I had just left my job at a Hispanic shopper marketing agency and honestly just wanted to take some time away from the agency life to figure out my next move. I remember getting a call from a friend (Pablo) to meet up for burgers and a beer at Green Door Tavern (located in the River North neighborhood here in Chicago). I can’t refuse beer AND great burgers. Plus, I wanted to catch up with Pablo; I hadn’t talked to him since our time together at another agency back in the day. He was the creative director, I was in account services. As we talked, it turned out that he was also in between jobs and had also contemplated the idea of opening up a Hispanic agency.
By nature Pablo is more of a free-thinking creative whereas my strengths lie more in brand planning and operations. On top of that, we had over 20 years of agency experience between the two of us. I always knew I would open an agency at some point but wasn’t sure when. The thought of that happening was always thrilling yet incredibly scary at the same time. Once Pablo and I began to explore the idea, all the pieces started falling into place. At some point during that meal, I knew we were on to something so much so that I made this note in my PALM Treo Smartphone (yeah, I was a trendsetter), and it has been passed down from phone to phone ever since (for five years).
Pablo and I recognized the tremendous potential in the industry for a Hispanic agency. There weren’t enough Hispanic agencies in Chicago at the time, meaning there were very few perspectives available to brands wanting to reach the Hispanic market. We felt strongly that there was a need for shop that specialized in the Hispanic market, brought vibrancy and flavor to their work, and didn’t take themselves too seriously. We thought there was room for an agency that treats the Latino consumer with a little more respect and thoughtfulness.
Since we had no real income at the time, we began working from my condo and Pablo’s apartment to get the agency off the ground. For a few months, most of our diet consisted of chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican tortilla and egg dish. I made every variation of the dish imaginable. We always joked that if the agency thing didn’t work out for us, we could open a chilaquilería, a restaurant specializing in chilaquiles.
As is normally the case, agencies are typically started with at least one client. Rarely, if ever, are agencies launched without a single client.. Who would do that? Who could be so daring yet so stupid at the same time? Well, we were both – I think.
Fast forward two months. In May of 2006, Pablo and I were hard at work finalizing our business plan. By the 17th of that month, we had the agency up and running, officially incorporated. To this day, we consider May 17 to be PACO’s birthday. It wasn’t long before we landed our first client, Tampico Beverages. The agency quickly picked up momentum (and more clients), which has had a snowball effect for us every year since.
We are happy to report that we have not yet opened a chilaquilería.