André Laurentino, better known as Dedé, is the chief creative officer of Ogilvy UK and member of Ogilvy’s Worldwide Creative Council. Brazilian born Dedé was one of Brazil's most awarded art directors for 10 years. In 2003, he became a copywriter and soon went on to win the same accolade in his new role.
Dede has 30 Cannes Lions to his name, as well as D&AD and The One Show pencils. And, in 2019, he is in the Top 20 Creatives of the year list by Campaign magazine. Alongside his career in advertising, Dede is a published author and also wrote TV series for Globo TV – Brazil’s largest TV network. He was a columnist for newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo for ten years.
Here he discusses his own creative heroes and why.
Q > Who would you say is your creative hero?
Dedé Laurentino > I have a hero for every type of creative field I love. I’ll explain why in the next answers but the dry (and very incomplete) list is:
In art it’s David Hockney.
In literature it’s a larger crowd: Graham Greene, Raymond Carver, Colm Tóibín. And my Brazilian lot: João Cabral, Manuel Bandeira, Drummond, Vinicius de Moraes.
I adore and revere Sempé, the French illustrator and artist.
In music, I’m Brazilian through and through: Tom Jobim and Caetano Veloso.
In advertising, the one and only Walter Campbell. Walt is the most generous, crazy, artistic, funny, deep, hardworking and crafty (all in equal measures) creative I’ve met.
Q > How long has this person been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting them or coming across their work?
Dedé > The funny thing is, I don’t remember seeing their work for the first time. It’s like sugar: when was the first time you tried it? It’s as if they’ve always been there while my appreciation of their work was simply developing. As my challenges and opportunities evolved, I’d return to them for new and different reasons.
Q > If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know them and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know this person, how did you go about finding to learn more about them and their work?
Dedé > I met Walter Campbell for an afternoon in 2000, when I lived in Brazil and worked for the same network he did. Walter had just produced two famous ads for Guinness (Marco’s race with the pint and Surfer) and he was incredibly generous with his time. I loved talking to him and later bought him a book by Jorge Luis Borges because he said his next ad was about a dreamer (you know that one too). And I thought that’d be the end of it.
Little did I know that 13 years later we’d be working together in London. This time I could not only see him at work, his process, his creative habits, etc but also work closely with him for nearly two years. Doing pitches, weekends and travels to sell the work.
One day a team and I pulled an all-nighter building a website. Walt arrived at the office at 6am (his usual time) and saw our deplorable state. He asked if we’d had breakfast. Then he popped outside and brought breakfast for all of us. A young member of the team was touched by his gesture and said: “I’ve never seen anyone do this. Who’s that man? Is he important?”. That’s Walter Campbell for you.
Q > Why is the person such an inspiration to you?
Dedé > Each of my heroes is important for a different reason. David Hockney makes you WANT to be creative. Picasso as well, but he’s perhaps too big, too close to God. You can feel Picasso’s famous “mirada fuerte”, his intense gaze which was intimidating for those who met him. You feel that too through his art. He’s scrutinising you while you look at his work! Hockney’s genius is celebratory and curious. I love his forays into photography to question perspective (Picasso did the same, in different ways). He used polaroids, then fax machines when they arrived. Then the iPad. He uses anything new, he’s in love with curiosity and innovation. His work isn’t finished yet, despite his monumental oeuvre and place in the history of art. His recent Yorkshire landscapes… don’t get me started.
Graham Greene, Raymond Carver and Colm Tóibín can create an entire world in just a couple of sentences. Carver takes it to the extra level and does that with two or three words! In very different ways, these are three masters of scarcity.
The Brazilians I listed are all poets. And I turn to them like Linus (the Peanuts character) carries his comfort blanket. All four of them wrote highly sophisticated poetry in a country plagued with illiteracy. And yet, fantastically enough, all four of them wrote verses which are widely popular and have become part of everyday language. That’s the calibre of their powers of communication.
The subject matter of Sempé’s illustrations is absolutely unique to him. Nobody found those things particularly revealing before he drew them: an old lady on a bench, a businessman eating olives, a kid in the rain, someone on a bike. His drawings are delicate observations (stolen glances) of human life. He captures mood like nobody else. Paris and New York are now drawings of Sempé to me.
A Brazilian’s soul is 50% music and 50% everything else. Tom Jobim and Caetano Veloso (amongst others) help create Brazil’s collective sense of identity. They reveal where we come from, and most importantly, suggest where we’re going. They do this social x-ray via popular music, which shows that pop songs play a different role in Brazil than perhaps anywhere else in the world.
Q > What piece or pieces of this person’s work do you keep coming back to and why?
Dedé > Each and every one of them has pushed whatever medium they work at to unimaginable new possibilities. In a time when creatives are embracing new technologies, they all show how exciting it is to explore what nobody else did or could before. My heroes are all trailblazers.