Last week it was the turn of Latin American Adland to celebrate a year of creativity at El Ojo de Iberoamérica festival. LBB caught up with festival president Santiago Keller Sarmiento to find out why the region is booming and what lies in store for 2013.
LBB> What are the most exciting trends coming out of the Latin American ad scene at the moment?
SKS> These are the five reasons I think the rest of the world should keep an eye on Latin America:
Freshness. Historically, we Latin Americans have been more economically disadvantaged than some of our counterparts. This means that we haven’t lost our sense of spontaneity. We understand crises; we don’t become paralysed by problems. We are also able to solve problems quickly and creatively, turning any setback into an opportunity.
Emotion. South American countries are characterised by their mix of nostalgia, romance and irony. We can tell stories in a variety of ways, managing the different tones very well. We also understand how different contexts and situations affect audiences.
Originality. The different Latin cultures are undergoing a process of re-evaluating their identity, strengthening it and integrating it into the world. We are able to provide different viewpoints and perspectives, but we still have a very strong understanding of universal emotions and how to reach any human being.
Innovation. Not only are we innovators in the technical sense of the word, but we are also able to use what is already around us to generate new ideas. It’s about finding new approaches for existing situations.
Humour. Latin Americans are not afraid to laugh at themselves, although it has taken years of work to become comfortable and confident in our identities. Argentines, in particular, are very ironic and cynical about themselves.
In general, the world continues to move, change, transform, evolve and reinvent itself. At El Ojo de Iberoamérica, we believe that our region has a historic opportunity to choose its own path, create its own benchmarks and standards. We are at a point where we can contribute to building a more sustainable, inclusive world, with better ideas for the industry, advertisers and consumers. The industry in Latin America is continuing to grow. In interactive, things are deepening and developing – it’s an area that is still full of opportunity.
It is very important to note the following point in order to understand what lies ahead for next year. For the advertising industry to grow, it’s important that there are more customers with better capacity to consume. The investment that clients dedicate to their marketing and communication is usually a percentage of their sales. So if we are to increase the percentage of advertising spend, it’s very important that advertising work sells more. And to do that, consumers must have sufficient resources. If consumers have less income, that generates a severe recession, as is happening today, unfortunately, in many European countries and even in the U.S.
Latin America, on the other hand, is experiencing the reverse. Politically, the region is consolidating its democracy. There are impressive levels of transparency and citizen participation (between 70 and 80 per cent of those eligible to vote exercise their civic right), as well as strong social, cultural, and educational inclusion processes. What’s more, income is increasing in most countries in the region.
In addition, two issues that will be hot in the coming year (and not just in our region) are the profitability of agencies, and the strengths and weaknesses of existing compensation systems. More generally, there are lots of discussions happening regarding copyright problems and who owns the rights of the work. In the U.S., some agencies have already raised the issue of the sale of rights, and others are beginning to do the same.
LBB> As Brazil readies itself for the World Cup and Olympics, it looks like Latin American advertising is really going to be in the spotlight over the next few years - what will these events mean for the advertising industry in the region?
SKS> The region is experiencing a period of significant economic growth, social inclusion, and consolidation of democracy. Latin America and Asia are the two fastest growing regions in the world right now. With Brazil leading the pack, the region is going to continue to have a period of strong growth.
The list of the world’s top ten largest economies includes two Latin American countries (Mexico and Brazil). In 2011, of the five countries which had experienced the greatest growth, three were from the region: Argentina, Peru and Panama. Despite the economic crisis in the USA and Europe, Latin America overall expects to have a year of economic growth in 2013.
New consumers and the growth of purchasing power have boosted the advertising industry in the principal countries in the region. Latin America is a centre of creativity and freshness for the world: new ideas, new focuses and new perspectives.
But the region doesn’t always have the economic budget to produce them. Argentina is a case in point. Though the economy is small, the Gunn Report considers it to be one of the top three creative countries in the world. The economy of a country like Argentina is much smaller than many others, so that gives you an idea of the quality of its creativity.
LBB> What are the highlights of this year's festival?
SKS> It’s difficult for me to choose highlights from our stellar lineup and outstanding awards winners. On a personal level, I enjoyed celebrating 15 years of El Ojo de Iberoamérica, a lively, dynamic and inspiring festival that demonstrates the talent, creativity, freshness and intelligence of our region. It’s an area that is of increasing importance in the world, and is creating its own vision of democracy, human rights, social and technological inclusion, and living in harmony with nature. I think El Ojo de Iberoamérica 2012 was an inspiring three-day celebration.
I think all of the presentations were fascinating. We heard from Droga5 Founder and Creative Director David Droga, DDB Worldwide President & CEO Chuck Brymer, DraftFCB CEO & President Laurence Boschetto, JWT Brasil Chief Integrated Officer Mauro Cavalletti, Ogilvy & Mather Latina Regional Creative Director and Founding Partner of David Gastón Bigio, VP of Creative for Ogilvy & Mather Latina and David Founding Partner Anselmo Ramos, Coca-Cola Latin America Integrated Marketing Director Guido Rosales, Leo Burnett Regional Creative Director and President of Leo Burnett Argentina Fernando Bellotti, W/McCann Brasil President Martín Montoya, Y&R Argentina Chief Creative Officer Martín Mercado, Fiat Director of Marketing & Advertising in Brazil & Latin America João Batista Ciaco, Microsoft Latin America Director of Technology, Developers & Platform Group Eduardo Mangarelli, television, radio and theatre producer and writer Pedro Saborido, LOV/Dentsu Brasil Creative Director Gustavo Borrmann, Possible San Pablo CCO Renata Decoussau, and Productora AD Studio founder and Director of Music & Multimedia, Jarbas Angelli.
LBB> And what, for you, have been the highlights of Latin American advertising over the past year?
SKS> In 2011, Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi was the Best Agency of the Year at El Ojo, and this year Maxi Itzkoff and Mariano Serkin, the agency’s Executive Creative Directors, were ranked amongst the most innovative agency personalities by Advertising Age and Creativity. Coca-Cola was the Advertiser of the Year at El Ojo de Iberoamérica 2011 and continued to have a strong performance in 2012. There was also the TEDx Taxi Drivers project
from Gastón Bigio and his team to promote TEDx Buenos Aires. That’s just a few picks from the past year – there is more where that came from.
LBB> How has the festival evolved over the past 15 years?
SKS> El Ojo was actually born as a simple party to celebrate the first four years of LatinSpots, the leading magazine about Ibero-American creativity and the organiser of the festival. At that time, our goal was to celebrate and recognise the professionals and organisations that had put in the best performances over those last four years. DM9 (which later would become affiliated with DDB) was named the Best Agency and the Best Creative was Marcello Serpa.
The inaugural event brought together more than 500 people from the region, and it was a great success. We thought it would end there. But the following year, everyone kept calling us to find out when the next El Ojo would be. We decided to hold another festival the following year, even though we weren’t completely convinced.
Once again, it was a success and we decided to make it an official festival to recognise not only the best professionals and organisations in the region, but also the best work in each category. Our goal was to showcase the best work and to inspire the rest of the industry to do better. We wanted to make El Ojo the meeting place for industry professionals, the place to train, debate, inspire and motivate everyone to do better and conquer the world.
Because of this, El Ojo has always been an innovative and avant-garde festival in many ways. It was the first festival in the world to do its entire registration system online. We were the first to implement a system that allows jurors to vote from their respective countries, thus avoiding the problems that often arise during face-to-face judging, such as issues of nationality, networks, cronyism or simple admiration. This allows each juror to really choose what they think is best. Also, three years ago we were the first to decide that the festival Grand Prix should be chosen in an integrated manner by all of the jury Presidents in the days leading up to the festival.
Furthermore, we update the categories each year. We were among the first festivals to include categories such as Interactive, Branded Content, Best Idea (‘Tercer Ojo’/Titanium), and Sustainability. This year we launched El Ojo Mobile and El Ojo Sports. El Ojo Mobile has been created with the support of the Mobile Marketing Association of Latin America.
El Ojo’s mantra is “Ve Más Allá”. In Spanish, this means two things. First, it means to see further and look deeper – to go beyond the obvious. It also means to go, to walk, to find new paths. This relates to being forward-looking and discovering new paradigms.
This saying not only inspires the awards that we incorporate and update annually – it also forms the basis of the festival’s content. Each year, we summon the most brilliant minds in communications, marketing, entertainment, new technologies, culture and art to share their thoughts, visions, doubts and questions. We do this in a relaxed, social environment where speakers are accessible to attendees.
LBB> Internationally, the Argentinian ad industry and Brazilian ad industry have a strong reputation – but what is the growth and development like in other countries in the region?
SKS> It’s true that Argentina and Brazil are creative leaders, but Colombia is also competing fiercely, and has won a number of awards this year at El Ojo. Other creative standouts in the region include Peru, Puerto Rico and Mexico. There’s incredible talent in the entire region, as well as a lot of strong Latin American creative
LBB> What advice would you give to individuals or advertising/production companies looking to work in Latin America?
SKS> El Ojo has had a number of international speakers and attendees who have later returned to open offices in the region. In 2013 we expect to see more agencies opening offices in the region. My advice would be to be clear in your mind if the work you will be doing is aimed at the regional or local market, because there is a difference. Be open to listening to and understanding the locals and make the most of the incredible talent we have here.