Dallas. USA. Pedro Lerma, CEO of Lerma
Tomilli: Your agency has been named Multicultural Agency of the Year in the USA according to the measurement on 89 of the most important festivals. How have you become the Multicultural Agency of the next generation?
We view ourselves as a next generation agency because of three main reasons. First, because of our focus on digital. Before launching Lerma, I built a digital agency. So digital is a core part of our DNA. It’s what has allowed us to take a brand like Avocados From Mexico to the Super Bowl five times in a row and has made us the most talked about brand in digital and social media with a fraction of the budget of other brands. Secondly, our view of the market is led by what we call Omniculturalism. We define that as consumers having an openness and a willingness to embrace other cultures. This has led to shared mindsets that we can appeal to and create powerful, long-lasting bonds between brands and their consumers. And finally, we see ourselves as a next generation agency because we are deliberately diverse. Our staff is intentionally made up of a mix of many different cultures. We believe that diversity leads to greater creativity and innovation on behalf of our clients.
How did you grow to what you are today, what was the strategy?
We’ve been very fortunate in that we have benefitted from word of mouth. We have had many clients and relationships that have gone to other companies and have called us to help them at their new company. And as our clients have seen real business results because of our work together, it often generates news. In fact, we just got a call from a brand that had seen a news story about our work for Ocean Spray. They hope we can help them achieve the same kind of success. And we’re excited to show them how.
How is that feeling of being small and starting something without knowing if you will ever be great?
I believe the entrepreneurial spirit is inherently and optimistic one. You start our believing you can accomplish something great. And for us, we’re always looking for what the next evolution of our success looks like. We embrace change. I believe it’s what will keep us a next generation agency for generations to come.
What inspires you in difficult times?
The LERMA/ team inspires me. For example, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were all afraid of what would happen. But the team came together to take care of one another, first. Then we focused on our clients and the work we do on their behalf. And then the truly inspirational work happened. The team looked for ways for us to help our community. As a result, we took on lots of purpose work. We did work for the United Way to help them launch their Corona Virus Relief and Recovery Fund which raised over $12 million dollars. We also did work for Catholics Charities of Dallas in helping launch a program to get Hispanic families to adopt COVID safety protocols. And with our Ocean Spray clients, we put a program together to help the Houston food bank to help feed those in need. Those are just some of the reasons I love coming to work with this team every single day.
What is Lerma’s greatest power?
Delivering tangible, meaningful results on behalf of our clients. One of our clients once said, “There are lots of agencies that can give you great creativity. But what you get with LERMA/ is an agency that will give you great creative, but one that will also own your challenges with you and deliver real results”.
How do you manage to tell relevant stories, at a time in history where many people talk about the same thing?
We hold ourselves to a really high standard. We’re students of our craft. We study our industry and work hard to find unique angles on storytelling. Our strategic process typically pushes us to find new creative territory that is still relevant to our clients’ brands and to the consumer. It’s an approach that consistently yields great results for our clients.
How do you achieve optimal collaboration within the agency?
Our culture is really important to us. It’s a healthy culture where everyone’s contribution is valued and respected. It’s also one where we’re committed to one another’s success. The result is great collaboration toward shared goals.
And how do you integrate suppliers, advertisers and allies into this dynamic to have better strategic results?
What we believe is that there’s always a way for everyone to win – clients, agency, partners and the consumer. We find the greatest success with our clients when they treat us as valued partners and not just vendors. When they truly want us to succeed and to reward us for that success, the result is exceptional work on their behalf and growth in their business. So we feel the same way about our partners on the media and production sides of the business. We want them to succeed in the same way.
Pedro Lerma, CEO of Lerma
Pete Lerma’s career started at a small agency in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he grew up and went to college. After four years of working on brands like Subway and Whataburger, it was time to move to the “big city”: Dallas.
Pete joined The Richards Group’s digital division, in 1998. As Principal for the agency, Pete led digital marketing for brands like Amstel Light, Fruit of the Loom, Hyundai, Patron tequila, and Expedia.
In 2009, Pete took on a second job when he and Stan Richards decided to launch Richards/Lerma, an agency specializing in Hispanic marketing. With Richards/Lerma, Pete has been able to bring his vision of the next-generation agency to life. Having grown up in digital, change and innovation are in his DNA. The result is that Pete embraces change and encourages bravery. And that vision has pushed the agency to defy labels and constantly pioneer how brands connect with their customers.
Pete leads a team of 70 seasoned Hispanic marketing experts that make up Richards/Lerma with offices in Dallas and Mexico City. A few of the brands the agency leads include Avocados From Mexico, Dr Pepper, Metro by T-Mobile, The Home Depot and Southwest Airlines.
Pete also cares deeply about the community and serves on the boards of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, Big Brothers & Big Sisters International and the Culture Marketing Council. He also chairs the annual Latino fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and serves on the Refugee Services Task Force for Catholic Charities.
In his spare time, Pete enjoys music, wakeboarding and spending time with his wife, Amy, and their kids, Trent, Christian and Allie.