Q: Could you tell me a little bit about the history of your agency?
Facundo: I started working as a model for commercials and runway shows in ’86, ’87, and I spent many years doing campaigns for different big-name brands and fashion shows. Later I was asked to form part of an agency with Raquel Satragno and work with her as a booker. She had been a model, the first Argentinean model to work in Europe at that time; and so I worked with her as a booker for about six or seven years. In 2000, 2001 I was heading the agency and decided to start my own company and that was when I founded Monteverde Models. From there I started to grow the business and now we have been in the marketplace for nearly ten years.
Q: How many models do you have on your books at the moment?
Facundo: Our database is very broad. We are an agency that responds as much to the demands of fashion as to advertising and television, and as such our database is very wide, around 500 people. We have different ethnic groups, we have children, we have actors, and we have celebrities; we have ‘real people’, runway models, and models for publicity and advertising. It’s an agency that is focused on providing a service to clients that need solutions for their advertising needs and for their campaigns in their entirety.
Q: To what do you attribute your success?
Facundo: I think that when I started the agency in 2000 there was no concept in Argentina of an agency dedicated to advertising. At that time there were fashion agencies and agencies with actors but they were very small, and it occurred to me that I should put together something that was truly integrated, a holistic solution for the client. And I think that this approach is what has proved successful, and successful internationally as well. Also when we started in 2000, 2001 there was a devaluation of the dollar and that was when we started to work externally and when the business started to grow as well.
Q: How important is it for you to have an international presence?
Facundo: In my opinion it is very important to have international recognition, as much for the models as for the agency. At the same time we are able to work internationally because we are well known around the world for having very good quality talent here in Argentina; and by being able to work internationally our models are able to get jobs that are much more interesting than local ones. And so really the industry can grow a lot more by working externally as well as with more prestigious companies.
Q: What is the local market like in Buenos Aires? Are there any trends?
Facundo: The market nationally is quite depressed; the global crisis has impacted very strongly in Argentina – just as much as it has internationally. We believe that at the moment in Buenos Aires and in Argentina work has decreased by 50%, and outside work as well has decreased by 50%. We are working at reduced levels but hope that it will improve. And we are still working providing production services to anyone that needs to advertise.
Q: What is the most in-demand ‘look’ in Argentina at the moment?
Facundo: It depends. Model selection depends on the type of campaign. Advertisers are often usually looking for ‘real’ people, they are looking for people that are not too removed from the ideal, which is something beautiful but not too unattainable, that reflects the current, everyday look. This is how it is for mass-produced products, which is to say telecommunications, internet services, soft drinks, chocolate etcetera. When we talk about fashion the ideal look is at a much higher level, and so you are starting to talk about a different type of model. But the type of talent that works for the most part are ‘real’ models and an international look called ‘international Latino’. The international Latino look sells very well, what is pretty here is pretty in Mexico and is pretty in Europe. And this international Latino look is what people want when they are looking for talent for commercials and advertising campaigns.
Q: What do you think sets Monteverde Models apart from the competition?
Facundo: Probably our range of talent. We have international Latinos that clients use for their basic beauty product campaigns like hair care and creams; more campaigns for male beauty products than female – deodorants, shampoo, conditioning creams, shavers; they are looking for people who are beautiful but Latino.
Q: And why do you think people choose to work with your agency over the others?
Facundo: I believe we offer a very efficient service with a personalised touch, just as much for our models as for our clients. We understand that both the models and the clients are our customers. We are able to assure the client that our models will be on time, that they will be well presented and that they will do a good job; and so when someone wants to contract an agency I believe they choose Monteverde for our reliability, our efficiency, for our fast service. We are not just an agency that represents people, we also offer financing for our clients to assist them economically. And I think clients choose us for this as well.
Q: How much has the internet changed the way you do business?
Facundo: For me the internet is one of the most efficient tools that we have to work with our talent. If you think about how it was before, if a client wanted to see a photo of a model you had to send their book, you needed to call a courier, get a cadet, put it on the bike and send it. Today in whatever part of the world you are in you can send it with Quick Time or you can reserve a photo of a model and fill campaigns. Number one is that we have fast communication. Number two is that costs are greatly reduced. So in one way the internet has meant the industry has been able to become global, almost without costing anything. As an efficient working tool it helps us to sell our talent. On the other hand, the internet also provides a very powerful means of showing advertisements, commercials, and print campaigns, because young people are living almost 24 hours a day connected to their computers.
Q: How do you find models and new faces?
Facundo: We have two forms of searching. One is scouting, in the streets, handing out cards, in discos, in schools; really anywhere they may appear is where we are constantly searching. The other is very much by recommendation. We have lots of models because they come to us to work with Monteverde, it is an agency that they know has work, that is a good agency, that will pay them, that will treat them well and has cool bookers.
So we have two channels: one is the booker and the other is word of mouth. We also place ads on the radio and in magazines advertising that we need people, and we do publicity in relation to scouting and then also models come after hearing the ads.
Q: Has the internet changed this process?
Facundo: Yes, of course, the internet has sped up the process because we get photos from all over the world from people who want work. We are constantly being sent photos from all over Argentina to look at. And we can also make a selection online. This one we like, this one we don’t like, and the ones we like we make an appointment with to meet them in person. The internet has increased the flow of contacts.