Most people in advertising eventually get an itch, a desire to break out from the shelter of a big agency, the tried and true, and an urge to go it on their own.
Such was the case for Daniel Velez and his partners Samar Sousou and Jumana Abu-Ghazaleh.
Twelve years later the result is a thriving health-care focused multi-ethnic agency called Souvez (pronounced Soo-vay).
“I was at Wunderman,” Velez explained, “and I just thought I could do more. I wanted to break the rules by empowering clients with limited budgets and resources with marketing and creative solutions that maximized their investment."
Velez, an account person by trade, found kindred spirits in Sousou (Creative Director) and Abu-Ghazaleh (Chief Planner) and they were off and running. “We all decided if we were going to work this hard, we might as well do it for ourselves and do it with inspiration,” Velez added.
Although not wanting to be typecast solely as a health-care agency, Velez and his partners agreed to focus initially on healthcare with a multi-ethnic twist. “Since then we've expanded our services to include nonprofits and government institutions. We've earned the reputation as the agency that delivers big ideas and gets it done."
Souvez takes pride in the fact that many of their clients are new to consumer marketing and need to be educated about the value of strategy and positioning. “We sometimes have to tell them that you can’t just design for the sake of design, but it requires a deep understanding of your mission, values, consumers and all those strategic factors.”
The agency recently developed a campaign for Small Business Services of NYC called “Compete to Win,” focusing on getting more minority and women-owned businesses to take part in the bidding process for city projects. “We started with rebranding NYC Business Solutions,” said Velez. “We needed to make the city government more consumer-focused rather than inner-directed. It was tough to tell our government clients that many small businesses did not trust them, but that insight led to an effective campaign.”
At a time where finding ways to cut through a cluttered media landscape is more critical than ever, Souvez is an agency leader, having developed its own media property, TheHealthRecord.com, an alternative media vehicle that helps brands make a direct connection to new moms, including Hispanic moms. The site gives moms the tools to better manage their childrens' health needs and features its own dedicated microsite of useful tips and information, hrbaby.com.
Velez explained: "It's interesting how you can reach new moms categorically, as one group. If you're a mom and you're Hispanic or African-American or Indian, their needs aren't really different, but how you engage them needs to reflect personalized values with a human-centric approach rather than a consumer-centric approach."
And the difference between human-centric and consumer-centric?
A promotional video for Souvez's own media property, TheHealthRecord.com“The industry tends to look at prospects solely in their role as consumers,” Velez said, “while we need to recognize that being a consumer is only one part of a person’s entire humanity. At TheHealthRecord.com, we’re giving moms tools to help them better manage their lives and as they’re doing it, they’re engaging the brand. It’s all about the voice we use and reaching the consumer in a very humanistic way."
Velez clarified for us. "It's a combination of the names of our two founders - Sousou and Velez."
As it should be!