Luzirene Mendoza: Partner & CEO, TBWA\San Juan

My NativeAdVice:


With 27 years of experience in marketing, advertising, public relations and promotions, Luzirene, along with partners Clarissa Biaggi and Jose Vallecillo, launched TBWA San Juan in Puerto Rico in January 2011.  In five years the team has won important New Business pitches against well-established agencies in the market.  The agency currently serves clients such as: GSK, Adidas, Southwest Airlines. COSVI (Cooperativa de Seguros de Vida de Puerto Rico), San Patricio Plaza, La Favorita and Suiza Dairy.
TBWA San Juan supports various non-profit organizations such as Pet SOS, an organization with an important mission on the Island: to end the suffering of 500,000 dogs and cats that live on the streets.

How did you get into the industry?

It all started when I was 10 years old. My big brother, who is 14 years my senior, was an Account Executive at an advertising agency In Puerto Rico.  I was a talent in many TV spots and I was really impressed when he was able to tell me exactly at what time and in what show the ad was going to air. I thought it was some type of magic. How could he know that? Also I remember how I felt when he showed me around the agency one day and I saw a storyboard (the big poster kind mounted in a black board) of a TV commercial I had already seen on air.  Again I thought it was magic.  I guess there was no turning back for me, I wanted to be a magician as well.

Any emerging industry trends?

The empowerment of the consumer, the two-way street communication and the constant evolution of digital platforms are some of the industry trends that will keep us on our toes for a while.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

There is an opportunity in all the new companies that are arising from the Sharing Economy trend.  An example is Airbnb. I really like how TBWA has created a positioning and a brand that defines the category as well.  

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

When my partners and I decided to open a new Agency in the market it was because we saw an opportunity to launch a new agency, more flexible, with senior talent that had Digital in its DNA. Not a Digital department, a Digital mentality. We all came from big agencies where, at the time, were having difficulty adjusting to the new era. I even remember we were not allowed to use Facebook during working hours.  And this was just 6 years ago!  The future of the business is going to be as big as our ideas take us. This will always be the future of agencies.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Our country is facing very tough times and for marketers the fact that so many people are leaving the Island has a direct negative impact on the business.  Our job is to help clients look for opportunities to grow the business while we continue to build brands.  Desperate measures are not necessarily the best idea in Desperate Times.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

We are supporting a non-profit organization – Pet SOS – that is committed to improving the over population of dogs and cats on the Island. Our work for them got us an award at the ACT Responsible competition in Cannes 2015 for a Corporate Responsibility Campaign.  The recognition and publicity received was very positive for our image.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

We lost a big account because of a change of management on the Client side that wanted to change everything including their own Marketing Director.  It was frustrating. We were fortunate that the same week another client in the same category started a pitch process, we were able to participate, and we won.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

I believe that clients appreciate that we take a real interest in their business. They know our growth depends on their growth. They value our honesty and the fact that we make recommendations based on research. That we are always looking for results.

How do you motivate others?

I tell them that we are building an agency that will stand the test of time, the way many other agencies have done in the past. THAT They are a key component of the company. I OFTEN REMIND THEM we are working to create something that will be theirs and FOR future generation to come.

Career advice to those in your industry?

The young people who are entering the industry are technologically savvy (something my generation had to learn) but what they usually lack is knowledge of the past, the case studies of great advertising campaigns of the 80’s for example.   This business is and will always be about the BIG IDEA.  Today we are busy keeping up with trends but there are many valuable lessons to learn from the past.