Meet the Dapper PR Duo the Argentinian First Lady Has on Speed Dial
Grupo Mass is the go-to for luxury brands—think Tom Ford & Dom Perignon—looking to break into the South American market.
If I were a betting woman, I would bet that if you were to attend any glittering fashion function or champagne-swigging dinner in Buenos Aires, it was orchestrated by Grupo Mass and the dapper partners at the communications agency’s helm. Wally Diamante and Facundo Garayalde️ dominate the representation of Latin America’s luxury arts and lifestyle brands, a moniker they inherited from the godfather of Argentinian public relations, Javier Luquez. Since taking over almost two decades ago, they’ve expanded into neighboring markets in Uruguay (Punta del Este is like the Hamptons of South America), Brazil, and Miami, and established themselves as the go-tos for top-tier brands by the likes of Tom Ford, Fendi, Dom Perignon, and French Vogue...just to name a few. They also happen to host events for the first lady of Argentina regularly.
We spent an afternoon with the duo in their stunning art-filled 19th century office to chat about their career and the challenges that come with a far-flung market.
On the natural succession that created Grupo Mass:
“Wally started working in PR 25 years ago. He started working with the king of public relations here in Argentina, Javier Luquez. He was very well known for mixing underground culture with high society. People always say Javier was our mentor and our professional forefather. He was the first well-known public relations [professional] in Argentina. He started working with fashion and with international brands that arrived in Argentina. Wally was his right hand. When Javier passed away 16 years ago, we decided to evolve the company and base it on the group of people that worked with us. Javier was Javier Luquez, and that was the company; for us, we wanted it to be a collective: Grupo Mass. We now work in the fields of fashion, arts, and lifestyle and represent an elite group of clients. We expanded to open offices in Chile, Uruguay, and three years ago, we opened offices in Miami—we operate all over Latin America.”
On the early-day challenges:
“We had to fill the space that Javier left. In a way it was difficult; we had to prove ourselves—that we were capable of fulfilling that role. Our company started in 2001, during the most terrible economic crisis in Argentina, so the luxury industry [was] in a rough place. We had to learn how to manage this crisis, and we did it well. We started to work with the best luxury brands in Buenos Aires, and we found a way of moving our tribe to become consumers. It was tough time, but it was super fun. We were young, and we had a big vision of the future. In the beginning, Wally and I did all the pitching and calling; we talked to the celebrities; we did the communications strategy; we developed the branding; and we did everything together. Now we are 50 people working in Buenos Aires.”
They don’t offer a singular approach for their clients:
“Grupo Mass is a 360-degree communications company. We represent an elite group of companies in the fields of fashion, arts, and lifestyle. We have different departments: the corporate department, where we represent corporate brands, like HSBC, Moet Hennessy, Estée Lauder, and Four Seasons. We develop all of the branding strategy and the communications strategy. Then we have the fashion department, where we create all of the campaigns, produce fashion shows, the communications strategy, and bring on celebrities. We have a 3.0 department, where we do all the Instagram and digital communications. And then we have a production department, where we produce all of [the] events. That’s Grupo Mass. When a brand arrives at Grupo Mass, we can do everything for them.”
How they continue to navigate this ever-changing space:
“We are a group of young professionals. We try to be the vanguard of digital communication every day. And this is something that’s changing every day. I think the key is to be in contact with people who know how to speak this new language. We are smart enough to understand that we don’t know everything, but we hire people that do. I’m not a millennial—neither is Wally—so we try to surround ourselves with smart, professional millennials at Grupo Mass.”
What a typical day looks like for them:
“I wake up at seven or seven-thirty in the morning. Wally and I have been married for 17 years, and we have a small daughter, she is four, so she wakes up very early. We take care of her in the mornings, and then at 10:00 AM, we do yoga or go swimming before going to the office. Every Monday, we have a meeting with all of the heads of the teams. We start planning the week, the month, the year.
“Then almost every day we have a lunch event, the opening of a new disco, or the opening of Art Basel Cities House—that was one of our latest projects in Argentina. Every day we have something to do, whether it’s a dinner or a party, or an opening. We try to manage that and our private life. We like to be very present in our home. We have lunch with our daughter, we take her to the kindergarten, we go and sing with the teachers and the other children, and then we go back to have a meeting or a call with, let’s say, our clients at Tom Ford.”
The most rewarding part of the job:
“We used to travel more often before our baby was born. Now as she gets older, we are recovering our old life, so we can travel again. We go to Art Basel every time—to Art Basel in Basel, to Art Basel in Miami, we go to the Biennale in Venice. We go to every fashion week in Paris and New York. We move. We move a lot. We get tired, but it’s very inspiring because what I like about this job is that I always meet someone special and new. I’m still surprised by people. That’s very inspiring. Getting to know interesting and talented, beautiful people around the world. That’s a very nice part of my job.”
On their historical and art-filled office:
“One of the most beautiful things that happened to us when we start[ed] working with art is that we start[ed] understanding art and meeting amazing artists. We started collecting—we have a big collection at home of young Argentinian contemporary artists. And here—our office is a house from the late 1800s. It’s a typical French house which used to belong to an Argentinian family. I like to say that Buenos Aires is a capital of an empire that never existed. [Laughs] Doesn’t it have that kind of feeling? It’s a city of princes and queens, but we don’t have royalty. And we never have—we had Evita. She was kind of a princess.
“You smell that kind of thing in Buenos Aires. You can see it. You can feel it in the spaces. You can see it in our office. It’s kind of a small chateau. We are so blessed to work in a place like this. In Buenos Aires, you have the opportunity to enjoy the most amazing buildings at a very reasonable price. Some of the most important buildings were built in Paris and brought here by ship in blocks.”
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