A Digital Agency Draws a Pair of Aces in Brazil
A Digital Agency Draws a Pair of Aces in Brazil by Stuart Elliott
AN acclaimed advertising creative team that has been celebrated for several successful campaigns is joining a digital agency on a fast growth curve to help it grow faster.
The team is composed of Hugo Veiga, a copywriter, and Diego Machado, an art director. The pair has created initiatives for the Dove brand, sold by Unilever, that are among the most watched, most shared and most honored recent work in the advertising world. One video, for Dove Men & Care shampoo, mocks the conventions of hair care commercials, and another, part of a series known as “Dove Real Beauty Sketches,” tells women, “You are more beautiful than you think.”
Mr. Veiga, 34, and Mr. Machado, 27, are leaving the São Paulo office of Ogilvy & Mather Brazil, part of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, to join AKQA, a digital agency that, like Ogilvy & Mather, is owned by WPP. They are becoming creative directors at AKQA and opening the agency’s first office in Brazil, also in São Paulo, to be housed in a space called Casa AKQA.
“We knew we needed an office in Brazil,” said Ajaz Ahmed, chief executive of AKQA, partly because “the talent there is extraordinary, the way they think about digital media — you see it every year in Cannes,” referring to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in France. Not coincidentally, Mr. Veiga and Mr. Machado were ranked as the most awarded copywriter and art director by the 2013 Cannes Report. (There is even going to be a celebration of Brazilian creativity at the 2014 Cannes Lions festival with a Brazil Day, on June 19.)
Plans call for the AKQA São Paulo office, which will be the agency’s 13th, to have 50 to 60 employees, Mr. Ahmed said, and to be “an international creative center, attracting talent and clients from all over the world to produce work that has global appeal.”
“We will also work with Brazilian brands to create fame on the global stage,” he added.
Clients of AKQA, which opened in 1995, include Audi, Delta, Montblanc, Nike and the World Wildlife Fund. When WPP, the world’s largest agency holding group, acquired AKQA in 2012, AKQA had estimated revenue of $230 million. Revenue rose to $256 million last year and will reach $300 million this year, according to Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP.
The company is “delighted” with AKQA’s performance since the acquisition, he said. “All around, it’s been extremely good: good on client retention, good on people retention, good on people development, of which Brazil is another example.”
Mr. Veiga and Mr. Machado are leaving Ogilvy & Mather Brazil “with Ogilvy’s blessing,” Mr. Sorrell said, “so we’re off to the races.” WPP agencies usually must obey a house rule against poaching, he added.
The arrival of the pair at AKQA is another example of how digital agencies are increasingly appealing to the creative staff of traditional agencies. (The terms “digital” and “traditional” are inexact: Few established agencies do not produce at least some work that is digital, and more digital agencies are expanding into the production of television and print ads. Still, those labels persist, partly as shorthand for agencies’ provenance.)
The hiring of Mr. Veiga and Mr. Machado is “definitely a stake in the ground,” Mr. Ahmed said, because of the high profile of the two and their work.
“We want their attitude, their DNA, to make the overall DNA of AKQA stronger,” he added.
Mr. Machado and Mr. Veiga recalled meeting at Ogilvy & Mather Brazil four years ago, after Mr. Machado had worked at Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Mr. Veiga had worked at agencies including McCann Erickson and TBWA. “We had always worked at traditional agencies,” Mr. Veiga said, but saw that “the mass brands are moving into the territory where AKQA was born” — digital advertising.
The pair met Mr. Ahmed for lunch at the Cannes Lions festival last year and, he said, “we got really interested in AKQA when we saw the content they were creating.”
One aspect of AKQA that Mr. Machado said appealed to him was its nontraditional way of operating, which he compared with agencies that are run by committee. “ ‘Committee,’ it has double ‘m,’ double ‘t,’ double ‘e’; it’s a waste of resources,” he added, laughing.
The enthusiasm the pair conveyed during a joint phone interview seemed to reflect their approach to work. After the two began collaborating, Mr. Machado said, “everyone could see the energy we generated together.”
Mr. Veiga said: “I was already working at Ogilvy, but I was without a partner. We started working on projects, small projects, briefs no one wanted to take. It was almost like having a creative soul mate. It was life-changing in all aspects.”
The goal is for the new office to be “a creative hub that uses the AKQA network for production, almost like a creative brain inside the agency,” Mr. Veiga said, adding: “The good thing about AKQA is the different offices around the world are almost like rooms of the same agency. We’ll be another.”
Source: New York Times