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COLOMBIA 2017 | “Rebusque” as the origin of local brand success

Colombia has lived through troubled times, jumping from one con ict to the next. Civil war, guerrilla war and narcos are all words that we want to leave behind forever. We are working on it, give us some time. In the meantime, I want to share some thoughts about how this phenomenon might have actively changed brands in Colombia.


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CEO Ogilvy Group, Colombia CEO Rednet Latin Center Mauricio.Barrigab@ogilvy.com

Martin began his career 20 years ago, in the JWT media department and then moved to work abroad in other companies, predominantly at MTV LatAm.

After a few years, he returned to Argentina, joining Mindshare in 2010. As a VP Managing Partner, Martin focuses on client service and new business.
Since 2014 he has also been the head of the m/SIX division in Argentina.


If you look carefully you will notice that we have a very strong local brand in almost every category

– restaurants, fashion, banks, non- and alcoholic beverages, confectionery, retail and so on. This is not common in most LatAm markets, globalization is having some trouble taking over Colombia.




History tells us many international brands left Colombia when times were rough, leaving a lot

of room for local brands. Colombian people are creative and “rebusque” is almost part of our local identity. It means “finding ways to achieve things”. Hard times forge hard people, resilient, creative and brave, a perfect environment for early entrepreneurship and family businesses. In the 70’s and 80’s when the government was busy fighting a war against drug cartels led by Escobar, people decided to fight their own war against limitations and fear, and lots of businesses were born and grew against all odds. Alfredo Hoyos Mazuera opened a Pizza outlet called Frisby that is now the biggest fast food restaurant, Yonatan Bursztyn created Totto, one of the biggest brands in the region. Many more were writing their own wonderful stories.


The World Economic Forum has named Colombia the international benchmark in entrepreneurship because of all the above. Today, Colombia is an emerging market with huge potential, and big and famous international brands are trying to come back or enter for the first time. However, the local established and rising brands are also taking advantage and are investing hard in innovation and fighting aggressively to defend their terrain. Stay tuned and watch.