We spoke to Gabriel about his most recent roles in advertising, his goals for 2018, and what he learned from his time in Busan last year.
You joined Ketchum in 2014, co-founded Little George in 2016, and took on a global ECD role at Ketchum in 2017. How did you manage both roles across two agencies?
It was a big challenge for me, but one that taught me a lot and has made me a better professional. I understand not only how to manage different types of projects but also how to manage completely different teams around the world, working with different cultures, clients and challenges.
I had to create my own way to absorb all of those demands, picking the right projects to jump in on and keeping the creative mindset alive around the network. I was in charge of being the creative disruption evangelist in each office around the network, also in the offices we didn’t have teams focused on integrated creativity, training them, working together, showing that Ketchum as a PR agency had the power to produce outstanding creativity, mainly around brand content and storytelling.
Today, I’m changing agencies. My next challenge will be global too, focused on creating big ideas with the social-by-design mindset, managing creatives and clients around the world, building stronger creative agencies and winning new clients and awards, which has become my biggest specialty in recent years.
What did you learn from working at a PR agency?
Ketchum used to be a traditional PR agency in Brazil, before me. It was really focused on traditional PR, and doing a great job of it, but there was nothing surprising in terms of big ideas. The market started to ask for more and they invited me to join the agency and take care of all the digital and creative departments there. After one year on board I started to change the way the agency was thinking about PR projects and the PR industry overall. I tried to point a new direction to them, making everyone in the agency understand they can be more creative, they can do more integrated work and of course think of PR as public relations not press releases.
In the beginning, it was a little hard to make people understand this new mindset and also make them understand the importance of digital in the industry, but finally it worked. We started to win a lot of clients due to this new mindset I started there.
Why did you launch Little George?
As a creative, I couldn’t stop thinking about opening a new creative agency inside Ketchum DAS/Omnicom Group. So I created Little George from scratch, to become the first creative agency inside the Ketchum group, and the first to think about big ideas first, mixing with technology, choosing the right platforms and also using the Ketchum power of doing PR to amplify everything. It was an earned media-centric model. We became a complementary business for the network, bringing new expertise across the Ketchum network whenever they needed a creative power to apply in their demands.
It was great. In less than a year and half we brought more than 25 awards home, including two Lions in Cannes, Clios and many important awards around the world, becoming the most awarded independent agency in Brazil, the most awarded agency in the Ketchum network and proving that the model I created was evolving fast and working pretty well. We started to find the best solutions no matter the size of the budget. So we became a valued agency to our clients, acting like a hands-on consultancy.
“Amazon Warriors Safe Children” was highly awarded last year. What were the challenges in bringing this idea to life?
Imagine you live in country that suffers from the same mosquito problems every year, yet the government doesn’t have the budget to help everybody with their programs – mainly people who live in the hidden cities inside the Amazon forest.
So we approached Brazilian chemical manufacturing leader Ananse with an idea to invent a new form of protection that would turn everyday objects – like books and toys – into safe and natural mosquito repellents.
The idea was so simple, and yet so complex. Teaming up with the non-profit Amazon Research Institute (IPAM), we began by targeting villages in the Amazon rainforest where mosquito-borne diseases raged. Our strategy relied on going school-to-school and door-to-door with the new ‘collection’ – an effort that we’d amplify through Brazil’s leading media and social influencers.
Ananse spent a year developing the coating technology to seal in repellent to paper, fabric and crayons. During this time, we wrote “Amazon Warriors,” bringing a mythology of warriors, summoned to save the forest from devastation, to life.
Working with IPAM, we first visited Tapara Miri in Pará, an isolated community of 1,896 people, living in swampland teeming with mosquitoes, crocodiles, and snakes. Initially, villagers were suspicious of strangers bearing unexpected gifts.
Ananse’s campaign put the international spotlight on a new class of mosquito repellents, while literally turning Brazil’s war against mosquitoes into “child’s play. One year since the launch, there have been no reports of a malaria or yellow fever outbreak in the village. IPAM will replenish the village’s Safe Collection kits every three months. Twenty thousand more collections are being distributed now throughout other remote parts of the Amazon.
For me, the best part of our profession is having the belief to not only create campaigns to sell products but to change people’s lives – to create with meaning, finding the right purpose to communicate our clients’ brands.
What are your goals for 2018?
As I’m in a transition, changing agency, my main goal is to make everything work like I did in past agencies, continuing the search of the next great story to communicate for our clients, staying even more close to all areas of the agency, breaking barriers and creating highways to cross paths together.
The best works are produced by everybody. So we have to respect others’ opinions and integrate every department of the agency to create better integrated work and improve our creative offer, at the same time as bringing outstanding results to our clients. This is achieved by incredible people working as a team.
With this thought in mind, in 2018/2019 I want to innovate even more and work with likeminded partners to bring the best projects to life, improving the way we are going to do our creative work.
What is your proudest achievement?
As David Ogilvy said, we have to live with “divine discontent” in our profession. We have to understand that the work that won an award today will stay in the past tomorrow. So I always have the feeling that the best is yet to come. I’m a believer, so I believe in the people I work with, in the clients I will work for and in myself, to always track and find new and fresh solutions that everybody will talk about. My proudest achievement is always believing we can make people happy through amazing ideas and experiences, making work with purpose and meaning.
You attended AD STARS in 2017 as a judge. Why should Brazilian agencies consider entering the AD STARS Awards?
AD STARS was an amazing surprise for me. I didn’t have any thoughts about the festival until I got there. They treated us so well that I had to give back to them all my best to judge the work and also to mentor the New Stars. I think Brazilian agencies need to know much more about AD STARS because it has incredible value, not only for the region, but for everybody who submits work there.
You were also a mentor for the AD STARS ‘New Stars’ competition. Can you describe the experience?
It was incredible. I was there with many amazing people from many parts of the world. We decided to find out which teams created the best-in-class work that was not only answering our brief, but was also creating momentum in the form of a creative solution that was social by design and earned-centric.
We found one or two outstanding ideas, and awarded the best. One of the great parts was when we had the opportunity to give feedback to each creative team on the ground there. I think they left the festival with new learnings that came from creative, talented people in the industry who are working around the world.