LATIN AMERICA: EXPORTING LATIN MAGIC - Camilla Palmer spoke to a selection of creatives who have given up the Latin life for posts in London, Amsterdam and New York

There can be no greater signal of the talent of Latin American creatives than when the world's most vibrant and successful agencies hire them. A stream of creatives have crossed oceans and continents work in Europe or the US, taking plum jobs at top agencies.

Latin America is also a region in which to invest. Witness Bartle Bogle Hegarty's entry into Brazil with its 49 per cent stake in Neogama.

The BBH chairman and worldwide creative chief, John Hegarty, says: "Latin American creatives represent a fusion of cultures, and I believe that's what makes them so versatile."

He claims that the dominant Latin traits are supplemented by European and US influences. "It creates a fascinating 'mongrel' attitude, and there's a certain underdog feeling there which makes people fight harder to be noticed."

SEBASTIAN WILHELM (top) and JUAN CABRAL (bottom), Mother

The copywriter Wilhelm and the art director Cabral were partners for 18 months at Mother after leaving Agulla & Baccetti in Buenos Aires in 2001. They worked on the relaunch TV campaign for Campbell's pie brand Fray Bentos.

When Wilhelm, 30, got a call from Mother's Mark Waites asking him to take a job in the UK, he knew he couldn't ignore the opportunity. "I thought I was dreaming. Although we have some good creative agencies in Argentina, it is the ultimate ambition to work in the great creative cities of Europe. In London and Amsterdam, there's a huge range of smaller creative agencies, all within one city. In the US, that same number of good agencies ranges across the whole country."

Wilhelm's then art director decided to remain at A&B, but Wilhelm suggested Juan Cabral as a replacement. "I felt it was important to go to a new market with a compatriot," he laughs. "Originally, it was planned that I would partner a British creative, to help with my adaptation of ideas into the UK market, but Juan and I are able to talk in our language, and have learned together how to translate our ideas for the market."

The two travelled around the UK, researching their new environment and watching and observing to tap into the psyche of the British people. "The nuances of dialogue are the most difficult thing to master," Cabral says.

He stresses that opportunities to work across genres are more plentiful here. "British agencies can mix different styles in a way which doesn't really happen in Argentina. And there's the chance of working with big-budget directors."

With Wilhelm now working at Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, Cabral has stayed at Mother. Yet both are united on one certainty - they will return to Argentina eventually.

CARLOS BAYALA, Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam

Argentinian Bayala is on the third leg of his whirlwind world tour of creative agencies after quitting Mother for a stint at Wieden & Kennedy in Portland in 2001, and then this year moving to the agency's Amsterdam office to share the executive creative directorship with Jon Matthews. He has worked on W&K's Nike account, among others. "It's like the United Nations of advertising, working here," he laughs, but he says the seriousness with which the agency takes international - and Latin American - talent makes it a role model for others.

Bayala claims that the natural melting pot of nationalities in Argentina, combined with the challenging economic conditions, makes it almost impossible not to think imaginatively in most situations, which translates well into the professional life of a creative. "Unconsciously, we Latin Americans like the pressure of a challenge, and that means we work hard at finding the right creative solution," he says. "We screw up when it's all going too well."

Bayala agrees with BBH's Al Tomizawa about the limitations of creative advertising imposed by enormous countries such as Brazil and the aspirations of creatives who want to work across a wide range of mediums. "In Brazil, the economic and social diversity of the audience means TV is always going to be less daring and more bland. But then the print work is fantastic, as it can be targeted so much more specifically to all those different audiences," he says.

Of his attraction to Europe and the US, Bayala claims it is ambition, pure and simple. "It's the same for any profession - you aspire to be at, and are drawn to, the centre of excellence," he says.

AL TOMIZAWA, Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York

The Brazilian-born art director was snapped up by BBH in May last year, fresh out of Atlanta's Creative Circus art school. He typifies the next wave of Latin American creatives keen to make their mark on the world stage. Before moving to the US three years ago, Tomizawa was living with his family in Brazil, working at McCann-Erickson. But he knew he wanted to move to the US. "It's a different kind of advertising in Brazil," he says. "There's less focus on strategy, and I wanted to work in an environment in which this was strong," he reasons. "In the US, the competition for consumers' time and money is greater than in Brazil and, as a result, clients tend to be braver and want to give more freedom to their agencies."

He says that the polarisation of consumers in Brazil - from rich, cosmopolitan city-dwellers to a large rural population - means that clients are more likely to stick to generic adver-tising for certain key products than produce mould-breaking creative on anything other than those mass-appeal products.

He is excited about the opportunities open to him at BBH's New York offices, and has teamed up with the copywriter Amir Farhang to work across all the agency's accounts, most notably on Johnnie Walker and the bank brand ING.

But Tomizawa also has his compatriots' passion for travel, and is open to sampling European and UK agency life. "There seems to be an even greater freedom and willingness to try new things in Europe," he enthuses.

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