Agency: Fallon London
By Anne Cassidy, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 12 July 2012 08:00AM
It's nearing the end of the most important week in the awards calendar, and the frenetic circus that is the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is parading noisily in the mid-morning sun.
Sitting in a quiet, shady corner of the hijacked French town, Pablo Del Campo contemplates the value of the precious metals everyone is here to get their hands on.
Del Campo, the most-awarded creative in Argentina - and one of the most-awarded in the world - admits to a disillusionment with the event that helped make his name famous.
He hates the fact that there are now so many categories. He hates that entrants seem to be expending more energy on presenting case studies than on the original idea. The whole thing has become "ridiculous" and "boring", he believes. And, with so many Lions given out, it is like a birthday party where "every child goes away with a bag of candy".
"The value of the gold is something that the festival is losing," he says. "I think that you only make a difference now if you have a Grand Prix."
Whether the organisers would take notice of his protestations is debatable. But if anyone's voice should be heard above the din of ringing cash tills at Cannes, it's his.
Del Campo, who has more than 60 Cannes Lions to his name, is much more than just a talented creative. The executive creative director and chief executive of Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi has spearheaded one of the greatest success stories in the advertising world.
The Buenos Aires shop he founded ten years ago, famed for its Andes beer, Sony PlayStation and BGH air conditioners work, is the world's fourth-most-awarded agency in The Gunn Report. It has also been named the best agency in Latin America for five consecutive years at the Circulo de Creativos Argentinos.
The Del Campo brand is so strong that the Saatchi & Saatchi network is now transposing it to its Spanish office, which has been relaunched under the name; Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi Espana, headed up by Del Campo himself, is now open for business. If history is anything to go by, Del Campo is set to not only reboot the network's presence there, but the entire Spanish ad industry.
Del Campo founded his agency during Argentina's worst economic crisis, so the meltdown in the eurozone and Spain's flailing economy don't phase him. "Argentina is always about not being in the comfort zone. It is something that is, unfortunately, normal for us," he says with a wry smile. "Sometimes, that's when creativity appears."
His compatriot Santiago Lucero, the executive creative director at Fallon, describes Del Campo as a "leader" and "motivator", adding: "I'm sure he will bring fresh air and adrenaline to a market that is going through really hard times, not only in terms of economics but in the quality of work they are delivering."
Del Campo and the executive creative directors from the Buenos Aires office, Maxi Itzkoff and Mariano Serkin, will now straddle the Argentina and Spain offices. Between them, they will attempt to recreate the Argentinian shop's culture and business model in Madrid.
Saatchi & Saatchi's Spanish office has not been much of a concern to the juries at Cannes. With just 40 staff, predominantly global clients such as Toyota, Ariel and Olay, and a less than startling portfolio of work, the shop had to shed its senior creative team, including the previous executive creative director Miguel Roig, to make way for the Argentinians.
The move is part of a trend to- wards networks giving their strongest local agency an international reach, in the mould of Havas, which open- ed a London office for BETC last year.
For Robert Senior, the Saatchi & Saatchi EMEA chief executive, it was an easy decision to make. He explains: "In a recession, clients want the work to work harder. To do this, you go to the most creative agency. The Hispanic market is a wonderful oracle of creativity, as evidenced by Pablo and the guys in Argentina."
Senior, in light of the major economic difficulties in Spain, doesn't have an aggressive growth plan for the shop. For now, he just wants better work, and is betting on the natural joie de vivre and playfulness of the Argentinian approach to advertising to take hold there.
"The (Argentinian) work puts a smile on your face. They find the humorous side of things. If you can find the prism of optimism, that puts you at a great advantage," he says.
The reason Argentina gives rise to some of the world's best creatives is partly down to its culture. The people there just can't get enough of advertising - the country's ad scene is a "permanent Super Bowl", according to Del Campo. Argentinians talk about advertising with the same passion and frequency as they do sport, politics and religion - they sit around debating the latest television spot for a beer brand as if they were discussing the recent performance of their favourite football team.
"You want to work in this business because it's relevant to the people," Del Campo notes. There is also less competition for talent from other industries. Without the lure of a Pixar or a Google, if you are an ideas person in Argentina, you will most likely be working in an ad agency.
Now, Del Campo just needs to switch on the charm in Spain, starting with the people in his new agency. Creatives in Argentina are happy to work at weekends and treat their agency like a social club. Del Campo is going to have to convince the Spanish contingent that working on ads should be treated like a hobby.
"The agency is going to be like a club," he confirms. "I've told them: 'You are going to have fun working on ideas.'"
Advertising? Fun? To the industry in the UK, such an approach would be deemed radical and, much like sexual harassment or a mid-morning Scotch, something you might have gotten away with in the 80s, but definitely frowned upon in 2012.
He will be spending 50 per cent of his time in Madrid, with Itzkoff and Serkin in situ around 50 to 75 per cent of the time. Surely Del Campo's mission to bring fun to the European ad scene, as well as running his agency in Argentina, will be anything but, as the demands of long-distance travel catch up with him?
But he is unperturbed, pointing out that living in Buenos Aires, with clients based in North America, means flights across time zones are nothing new. Besides, going global was always part of his masterplan.
"If you want to have the best creatives in the world, you must be global," he says. "Since we started, I knew I needed to go beyond Argentina to have the agency I wanted."
DEL CAMPO'S WINNING CAMPAIGNS
2006: Buenos Aires Zoo 'together'
2007: Ariel 'big brother'
2009: Andes 'teletransporter'
2009: Sony PlayStation 'victor'
2009: Hospital Aleman 'kids see differently'
2009: Cadbury 'chocolatometer'
2011: Sony Cyber-shot 'Marilyn'
2011: BGH 'dads in briefs'
2011: Coca-Cola 'the cheering truck'
2011: BGH 'big noses'
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk