The Whirl From Ipanema

If necessity is the mother of invention, it should come as no surprise that Latin America is a hot contender for the New Next as far as creativity is concerned. After a turbulent few decades - revolutionary violence, repressive dictatorships, financial crisis, border skirmishes - creatives in this part of the world have had to be quick on their feet.

Having skipped around the continent from my hub in Buenos Aires to São Paulo, Mexico City, Bogotá and Santiago, I'm convinced that the marketing services sector has hit newly interesting times. There isn't a day that I don't walk down sunny streets and spot some sort of consumer engagement activity, a clever local execution of a global strategy, or something that I just want to photograph and blog about.

I keep wondering why this is the case. Even with Internet penetration at respectable levels, up to 90 percent of people still watch TV everyday and airtime is cheap here. Why would any creative worth his rock star salt want to work on anything but his next epic TVC script?

There are a range of possibilities - periods of financial crisis have forced agencies to get results on limited budgets, an increase in planning departments have led to more strategic approaches to communications, global advertisers are requiring streamlined processes from their agencies, lax media laws make it easy to bring these ideas to life. Despite the lag behind the United States and Europe in a fragmented and increasingly digital media environment, forward-thinking agencies have been quick to follow the evolution of their counterparts in those parts of the world. Here "360" and "Innovation" departments are just as old school as anywhere.

Nowhere does this seem clearer than in Argentina. After severe crisis in 2001 (the peso dropped by 70 percent and the middle class fell through the poverty line), global advertisers are increasing their expenditures and bolstering key marketing departments in the country. Production houses are moving in. While Chile is known for media innovation and Brazil is reaping the prizes in online and press, Argentina is picking up local and international awards for fully integrated campaigns. And we're seeing them everywhere. Camper's current "Imagination Walks" campaign was made by Madre Buenos Aires. European Lynx commercials come from Vegaolmosponce. Argentina is taking on the world.

>> Nike: Barrio Bonito BBDO Argentina was faced with the task of localizing a global idea for Nike's 2006 World Cup campaign that simply wasn't going to work in the market. The football rivalry between Argentina and Brazil meant that the global line "Joga Bonito" (meaning "Play Beautiful" in Portuguese), was more likely to stir up a hate campaign than get people to buy sneakers. In response, BBDO focused its efforts on a highly experiential activity based in La Boca, the character-filled hometown of Argentina's most popular football team, Boca Juniors. BBDO went as far as to create a whole football neighborhood. "Barrio Bonito," as it is still known, included interactive monuments, famous artists' participation, and murals and installations, many of which remain in the area.

Barrio Bonito is, to date, the most honored work in the history of Argentine advertising, having most recently won an Integrated Lion at Cannes and a Clio for Innovative Media.

>> Unilever: Axe 3 The latest Axe deodorant campaign from Vegaolmosponce sits beside award-winning campaigns for Impulse and Rexona. The idea was to increase consumption of the product by encouraging guys to buy two fragrances that could be mixed to create a third - encapsulated in the concept of combining women. The campaign consisted of TV, billboards and ambient media, localized to their exact positions with lines such as "School of Medicine + School of Law: Mix and get girls who stand by one law - playing the doctor." An interactive billboard and Web site allowed guys to vote for their favorite combination: Miss Chef + Kindergarten Teacher, the lucky winner, at events. The racy campaign won the Integrated Grand Prix at Cannes in 2007.

Written by Tiffany Kenyon, curated by Paul Woolmington, partner, Naked Communications. (tiffany@nakedcomms.com, paul@nakedcomms.com)

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