Caracol Televisión’s Juan Esteban Sampedro

Juan Esteban Sampedro, Caracol Televisión’s entertainment manager, talks to TV Formats about what sets The Agency apart from other modeling competitions, as well as the opportunities the show offers advertisers and the incentives it presents to its participants.

The world of modeling is on display in The Agency (La agencia), one of Caracol Televisión’s new formats. More than 21,000 people—both men and women—tried out for the show, believing they have what it takes to be a model.

***Image***TV FORMATS: Tell us about The Agency.
SAMPEDRO: It’s a new original production that includes elements that bring a breath of fresh air to television. The element of living together returns in a reality set in the world of aesthetics, beauty and glamor. It also has important value, because as producers, we’re always looking for advertisers to present their products in our formats, but to do it in such a way that doesn’t scare off our viewers. We don’t want it to be intrusive. Sometimes viewers are offended and simply change the channel. So we’ve found the perfect backdrop for advertising that is tied to the world of modeling. We’ve designed a format where any advertiser can develop a TV commercial, a photoshoot or brand activation through a fashion show, cocktail party or event where the models can participate.

TV FORMATS: What kind of models participate in the show?
SAMPEDRO: We have everything. At the casting call, which has been Caracol’s most successful, over 21,000 people showed up. That’s a lot of people if you compare it with the average that apply to participate in our shows. When we did Desafío, we had about 12,000 people. With The Agency, it was almost double. It’s a format that any person who thinks they have what it takes to be a model can participate in.

TV FORMATS: What motivates the models to take part in the show?
SAMPEDRO: For one, they have media exposure that will make them very popular; and two, they have a chance at winning a little over $100,000 at the end of the show; and three, there’s almost $500,000 on the line during the program itself. That makes it very attractive. The show presents the work the models do on a daily basis, all live, as well as them living together in facilities we’ve set up in Medellín.

TV FORMATS: Have you seen interest from international buyers for the format?
SAMPEDRO: There’s been a lot of interest because it’s an innovative and fresh format. When the first episode was ready, we said it was refreshing for television—and this is how people have perceived it. It’s not a huge or small format, but a midsized format in terms of production. So it’s easier to make and adapt than other mega projects. We have a format with plenty of potential for every market.

TV FORMATS: What do you think makes this format stand out from other modeling competitions, like Next Top Model?
SAMPEDRO: There are various modeling formats that have the competition element in common. In The Agency, men and women participate. In Next Top Model, for example, there’s only women. The Agency includes contracts from real companies and not made-up challenges. We also have the element where the participants live together, which is important.

TV FORMATS: What other projects are you working on?
SAMPEDRO: We’re working on a musical format, and the other is an adventure format related to a beautiful legend. We were also fortunate to work on another important format, On Another Level (A otro nivel), which has been successful.