BIG KAHUNA FILMS, the award-winning creative production house based in Dubai and Beirut, is proud to support creativity across the Middle East. Over the coming months, as part of our sponsorship of LBB’s Middle East edition, we’ll be speaking to some of the great minds driving creativity forward across the region.
LBB> Tell us about your childhood in Brazil the role creativity played.
Miguel> I was born in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil and what's funny is that it's a city that was built from scratch, just like Dubai. Later, we moved to Recife in the northwest of the country where I could find the beach.
My parents got divorced when I was five years old and I was missing my father very much. Back then there was no FaceTime and it was very difficult to speak, so he suggested I write letters to him. But when I told my mother I didn’t know how to write a letter she said pretend you are talking to him, pretend you are having a conversation with him just like you've done on the phone. I was seven years old when I got this advice.
Looking back, I feel like he was the trigger. When I got a letter from my father, I was so happy and then I just wanted to write another letter. Then when I had to choose my profession at university, I decided that this was so easy for me I wanted to study journalism. But after one year, I thought this is good, but it's not good enough. People started to say to me ‘your copywriting is so good, so creative, if you could move to another industry, maybe you'd be happier’. I love the experience I gained from journalism, but working more creatively was something that was always missing and when I arrived in advertising, I felt very happy.
LBB> What do you remember from your early years of working in the industry?
Miguel> I would say my first advertising ‘school’ was AlmpaBBDO, where I was hired by Marcello Serpa. He's a legend. I remember walking with him and being amongst all those creatives - that at the time for me was amazing because I had a genius by my side who was an art director but also the owner of the company. And he was always telling me look, you have to always do more than we ask from you.
Working in Brazil was very TV oriented. In Brazil, there are no media agencies, the media is all in the same agency. So the good thing about this is that the agency, at least at that time, was very healthy with a lot of money and resources to produce good work. But the tricky thing was creativity sometimes became a commodity.
LBB> Post that, you had a pretty international career. Talk us through it all.
Miguel> I got an offer to move to Spain, which I loved because there was none of the media way of working. We had to be more creative. For me it was a great learning experience and also my first time in Europe, which is a very different market, different opportunities, different challenges. I arrived in Spain, not only in the year but in the week of the economic crisis.
From there, I moved to McCann, the first one in Spain and then I moved to McCann Milan to work as a global creative director for Nestle and Nespresso. Moving to Italy was amazing, working on the design and craft there was very challenging, but I enjoyed it. It was a very different experience coming from Brazil, with no media agencies, to Europe, which is a very different market.
LBB> You worked in London for a while too at McCann, what was this experience like for you?
Miguel> It was amazing, I learned a lot there. The way everyone from London works is amazing. The culture is amazing. The way you embrace every religion, every culture, every way of working, you feel like a real citizen. A friend of mine says that London is the best New York in the world and I really believe it. Especially when it's not foggy!
LBB> Talk us through the opportunity to move to Dubai and work at VMLY&R MENA?
Miguel> I got this invitation to come to MENA and I was very happy to come here, because I feel like it's a region that is booming. MENA holds great opportunity and potential.
Dubai alone is one of the most forward-thinking countries in the region and maybe in the world, it's very inspiring. The sheikh is a big, big CEO in the way he runs the country. I think it's a great way to see the world if you are from here because for me Dubai now, after being here just two months, I can see this is the new centre of the world. You are five hours from Thailand, but also six hours from Madrid, seven hours from London, you are close to Singapore but you're close to Africa, to everything. It's so well located and there are so many things happening here.
LBB> From your experiences of being in the country, how would you summarise Dubai’s creative scene?
Miguel> My first impression is that this is a place that is booming. It has a lot of resources, a lot of ambition. It's not an underdog anymore, everybody's talking about Dubai. The MENA market is amazing.
Commerce is growing here in a way that is unbelievable and I am happy to be in an agency that has the skills to work on commerce in the best way possible. My dream is to win something big in commerce at Cannes and in the festivals.
LBB> Looking at the next generation of creatives, what advice would you give them?
Miguel> The first thing I would say is the same advice that I got for myself, which is try to deliver more than you were asked for. The second thing is, just try to read a lot. Also, a quick thing you can do is just be nice. It doesn't matter if you have great talent if you're not nice with people. I think social skills are so undervalued.
LBB> Finally, looking at your life outside of advertising, how do you spend your time?
Miguel> I feel blessed. It was actually in Cannes where a friend of mine, told me: “Miguel, life is too short to live in just one country”. I said, that makes sense! Now this is my country number five and I feel very happy now. I feel happy to be here, working in a great agency, which for me is not just a great agency, but a great family too.