The World: Insider's View - Colombia

The ad industry and clients are maturing, and this change of attitude is helping to put Colombian work on the world map, Alejandro Barrera writes.

Creatively, this year has been the Colombian ad industry's best.

Our perennial objective - to win awards at Fiap and Cannes - has been achieved better than ever before: OMD won awards for Chevrolet and Clorox; Lowe scored a hit in the media category for Unilever, and JWT performed well with its work for Ford in the print category. On top of that, we have started to make our presence felt at festivals and publications where previously we never had any.

More importantly, though, we've had a better year when measured by our own yardsticks, not just those of international awards juries and journalists.This, without a doubt, is a symptom of our growth as an industry and a reflection of the fact that we are developing great talent.

But it's also a sign that both the ad industry and the clients buying the work are maturing. The work that I'm seeing winning awards is work that I actually saw on TV in the middle of a reality show I was watching; it's an ad I came across in the magazine that I was flicking through while I waited to see my dentist. This is real work that has been made for real clients, not just for a jury.

It's good work, too. Today's portfolios are a little more honest than they used to be and, as a result, a lot better.

All of this justly makes us feel very proud, but I can't help wondering where this change is coming from and what has happened to make this shift.

Personally, I've noticed a change in attitude in the profession, a growing quest for expertise and wisdom. New creatives are more interested in sitting at their desks working than sitting at their desks correcting. And the long-standing tendency for Colombian creatives to try to direct ads seems to be waning - nowadays, they prefer to write them. And they know that what they've lost in muscle in the production of ads, they've gained in silverware.

There was a tendency from Colombian creatives to want to run before they could walk and to teach before they had learned all that they needed to learn. This change in attitude is benefiting the whole advertising industry. It benefits creatives because it means they improve their professional performance; it benefits agencies and clients because it guarantees better work, both in terms of efficiency and in terms of productivity.

And it benefits the nation as a whole, because, however slowly, Colombia is becoming a point of reference. A country that is becoming ever more important.

- Alejandro Barrera is the creative director of JWT Colombia.

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