Grupo Gallegos Gets New Digs in Huntington Beach

Grupo Gallegos, known for their innovative ad campaigns for Comcast, The California Milk Processor Board (Got Milk?), Target, Energizer, and Fruit of the Loom, has broken new ground not only in headquarter relocation, but in recession survival. While other companies are downsizing or disappearing entirely, Grupo Gallegos has doubled in size since 2009 and has been forced to relocate in order to provide their growing company with more space. This space is far from ordinary, but instead boasts a sports court, surfboard storage room, umbrella-lined ceiling, floating conference rooms, and more.

The new office, located just steps from the iconic Huntington Beach pier, is one that bursts with the encouragement of creativity and employee inspiration. The open floor and stadium-like configuration of the first and second stories promotes collaborative creativity among employees, one of Grupo Gallegos’ most valued concepts.

Owner and visionary, John Gallegos, compares his team to the big cats at a zoo: “Without breathing room and space to roam, their natural talents are unable to reach full potential.” As a result, the atmosphere created at Grupo Gallegos is one liberated from the more traditional stiff business environment, but instead exhibits a casual air, with a corresponding casual dress code. The result: energy is instead spent on innovation, which has made Grupo Gallegos the most rewarded advertising agency for the Hispanic market and a recession success story. The Hispanic market is the fastest growing consumer market in the US, placing Grupo Gallegos at the forefront of a competitive new advertising challenge.

“As we outgrew our previous offices, I realized the need to find a space that would allow us to grow well into the future. Finding this building gave me the opportunity to start from scratch and create an environment that reflected what has made us successful: collaboration, where every person in every department is a part of the creative process,” says Gallegos. “Traditional ad agencies are divided by offices and floors that don’t allow employees to experience all parts of the process. And that is counter to how we operate.”

To further facilitate this atmosphere, Grupo Gallegos’ young creative employees have the opportunity to work on their unique ad campaigns with the aid of activities that stimulate creative thinking. The new office contains a sports court, gym, batting cage, and an entire room devoted to storing surfboards, wetsuits, and beach cruisers. Lockers and shower rooms are provided to refresh employees after a lunch spent enjoying any number of these activities. The new space also houses a ping-pong and sofa lounge, espresso break room, and an outdoor terrace.

These facilities are not limited to employees, but are also enjoyed by clients, who are offered a sports break from meetings. These meetings are held in far from ordinary conference rooms, but are instead had in unique meeting spaces that appear to float above the offices. As a nod to the agency’s Hispanic roots, the conference room blinds can be rotated to display ocupado (Spanish for occupied) in giant letters while in use.

Gallegos, a sports buff himself, had long admired companies that offered hard working employees the opportunity to unwind and enjoy their surroundings during work hours. After deciding that this was something he wanted to incorporate in Grupo Gallegos, he engaged noted Los Angeles architect Lorcan O’Herlihy of LOHA in 2010 to help make his vision of a space that encouraged creativity, while offering a plethora of physical activities, a reality.

Lorcan O’Herlihy, founder of LOHA Architects and winner of seven AIA/LA design awards and 26 national and international awards, calls the new location a “livable working space.” O’Herlihy, part of the creative IM Pei team that developed the Louvre glass pyramid in Paris, was challenged to create a space for Grupo Gallegos that would be flexible, in consideration of John Gallegos’ anticipation of further company growth. The result: a beautiful spacious work environment with high ceilings, soaring windows, and obvious room for expansion. A former six-screen multiplex, the 40,000 sq. foot office space has undergone a remarkable transformation from a boarded up theater to a colorful, creative office space.

The connectedness of O’Herlihy’s vision with that of Gallegos is evident in touches such as the rows of umbrellas that line the ceiling. Originally, they were an answer to a simple question of how to cover the ceiling. However, at Grupo nothing is accidental. The umbrellas also serve as a reinforcement of Grupo Gallegos’ beach motif, dedication to creative solutions, and reference to the notion of a photo shoot, a vital element of their creative ad campaigns.

Grupo Gallegos’ innovation and success has not gone unnoticed. Business Week describes them as “A catalyst for advertisers rethinking the conventional Hallmark-card style. They woke up Hispanic advertising with a TV spot for Fox Sports Net Inc. depicting a Hispanic housewife returning from shopping and detecting a bad smell in her house.” The New York Times magazine ran a 4,000 word article on Grupo Gallegos, with a photograph of John Gallegos captioned: “Making a metaphor out of a rabbit, John Gallegos and the Energizer conejo. His challenge: to turn his clients’ mascot into the cultural touchstone for Spanish speakers that it is for Anglophobes.”