León Potasinski: Ad Maestro With A Golden Touch

 

Remembering Acento Executive & Hispanic Advertising’s MegaMind

We called him MegaMind. It was a fitting description because he played a key role in so many areas requiring strategic insights”– Roberto Orci, Acento Advertising CEO

By Elia Esparza

On January 3, 2013, Santa Monica-based Acento Advertising Agency lost one of the industry’s brightest marketing leaders, León Potasinski, who had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two weeks prior to his death. His family, friends, and colleagues had no chance to digest the diagnosis because the cancer swept in quickly and claimed his life at the young age of 54.

Leon Potasinki
Leon Potasinki

León wore many hats in his career at major agencies and most recently led Acento’s team of strategic planners and researchers – a team so inspired by their mentor’s legacy, they are poised to move forward and achieve even higher ground.

“León and I were the two Jewish guys, one gringo (me), and one Venezuelan (him), working in Hispanic marketing.  We came from different worlds but we shared very open and honest communication upon which a friendship was built. I worked very closely with León on the new business front. His in-depth knowledge of the consumer and his vast experience working with so many brands over the years was, for me, like a graduate class in marketing. He was fun, quirky, and insightful, but above all, he called it like it was, whether you wanted to hear the truth or not. His presence will truly be missed, but his legacy will surely live on at the agency. – Steve Roth, Acento Advertising Agency Development Director

Latin Heat is in the business of reporting about Latinos who are working in the film and television industry, as well as those creative and technical wizards behind the scenes. However, not enough is reported on Latino advertising or the marketing executives who move mountains targeting U.S. Latino consumers. Needless to say, they are of equal importance because everything made in Hollywood is marketed to Latinos not only domestically but also globally.

“There is no way Latinos in America do not know León’s work. Many years back, León was on the original marketing team that created McDonald’s first Hispanic strategy,” Roth added.

Potasinki’s most important contribution to Hispanic advertising was his leadership and in-depth knowledge of the consumer – a mastery he honed throughout his 30-year career. During that time, León worked with clients spanning a wide range of categories including food, beverage, entertainment, financial, energy, government, non-profit, restaurant, pharmaceutical, retail, and telecommunications. León was always working on something whether it was current client business, or new business efforts, or researching/writing white papers on a variety of topics involving the Hispanic consumer market.

The Venezuelan born León Potasinki joined Acento Advertising in 2009 and was its Director of Strategic Planning and Research. Prior to that, he was at La Agencia de Orci. His first job in Hispanic advertising started with Bermudez and Associates, one of the first large Hispanic Ad houses in the U.S.

new_acento_logo.pngAccording to his Acento colleagues, León’s work touched every client at Acento including Wells Fargo, CenturyLink, Toshiba, Health Net, Staples, Southern California Edison, and California Department of Health’s Anti-smoking campaign, among others. He was directly involved in developing the strategy for numerous campaigns. “Additionally, León was an instrumental part of our agency’s new business team, uncovering consumer and category insights that contributed to a number of [Acento’s] new business wins. He was also a superb presenter during new business pitches, captivating audiences with his knowledge of their business and insights into their customer behavior,” Roth said.

León epitomized a pristine combination of acumen and elegance in Hispanic advertising. He won the respect of his team and clients.

“León was once presenting to a key executive group.  As usual, he was mesmerizing everyone in the room with his every word. He presented as if he were on a Broadway stage with so much passion.  After his presentation, the client was speechless and simply said, ‘That was magical.’”  – Liz Vargas, Acento Account Director

“After knowing and working with León for close to 20 years, I can say that León is a once in a lifetime teacher/mentor. Very few people with his high intellect and experience take the time to pass on their knowledge. León was committed to mentoring those around him and, as result, has left a legacy of marketing professionals. León’s generosity extended beyond work. He would always bring in baked goodies to the office and remember our birthdays by doing something special like setting up a gourmet breakfast with the special LP touch. With León, it was all about the small details in life because that’s what people remember.”  – Angelica Posada, Acento Advertising Media Director

León came from a hard working Polish family that moved to Venezuela, during the early 1940’s, when Jews in Europe were being persecuted. He was born in Venezuela and went to college in New York where he met Scott, his lifelong partner of 36 years. At Bermudez and Associates, he quickly moved up the media planning ranks working as media director for many top agencies.

“I remember León not only as a brilliant strategist and thinker, but a kind and thoughtful gentleman. We were in Atlanta, just before his passing, on a new business trip,” recalled Robin Burns, Acento Advertising Account Director. “He was so very gracious, polite and complimentary, opening cab doors, allowing a woman to sit first, and listening to what you had to say with genuine interest. These may seem like outdated and old fashioned gestures, but they are what made León the gentleman he was.”

“Working with León was very rewarding. After several super long, busy days working on a client presentation with León and the rest of the team, things got a little touchy. Well, it’s only normal that not all minds think alike; and when you’re up against the clock, it doesn’t help. Anyhow, I don’t think at this particular time I was on León’s list of favorite people. Despite our differences in opinions, we were able to proceed with a great presentation followed by a wonderful dinner with the client,” said Account Director Liz Vargas. “And it was at the very same dinner that León snuck off for a minute. Upon his return he handed me a beautiful pair of blue sun earrings leaving everyone at the table curious. [I’ll always treasure those earrings.] Only León and I knew that despite anything and everything, we were always good. It was very rewarding to work with him and I learned a lot.”

“I had the pleasure of working with León for over twenty years, first at La Agencia de Orci where I was a partner with my brother, and most recently at Acento. He had a unique way of looking at things that resulted in some of the most brilliant insights and opportunities for our clients. He will be missed as a colleague as well as a friend. To say that his passing was untimely doesn’t quite capture the extent of our loss.” – Roberto Orci, Acento’s CEO

Founded in 1983, Acento Advertising is a leading full-service, independent agency that specializes in the Hispanic Market.

Pancreatic Cancer Statistics:
The American Cancer Society’s 2013 estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States are:
About 45,220 people (22,740 men and 22,480 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
About 38,460 people (19,480 men and 18,980 women) will die of pancreatic cancer making it the fourth deadliest cancer.

Memorable Recent Pancreatic Cancer Losses:

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, lost his battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer on October 5, 2011, at age 56. Until recent years, pancreatic cancer did not have much of a place in public consciousness. But a number of high-profile people with the disease – Jobs in particular – have raised awareness about the lethal illness which claims the lives of 95% of those diagnosed within five years.

Patrick Swayze, of Dirty Dancing and Roadhouse fame, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2008 and died on September 14, 2009, at age 57. Swayze’s cancer had spread to his liver by the time he was diagnosed and he went through intense treatment but no surgery.

 –Edited by Casandra Moreno Lombero

-Special thanks and appreciation to Roberto Orci , Steve Roth and entire Acento staff

Please follow Elia at her LatinoWood blog by subscribing to Latin Heat

 

eesparza

Elia Esparza is a leading expert in communications and journalism targeting the burgeoning Hispanic market and has produced and written dozens of articles. President and CEO of Always Evolving PR and a Communications Specialist, Elia, incorporates her 18 years experience in the areas of entertainment and education public relations, and marketing. promotions, market research and translations (Eng/Span).