Independence or death. That was the sentence which made Brazil stop being a Portuguese colony and become a free country back in 1822. Times have changed, but everybody knows that history always repeats itself. Independent labels appear in order to escape from the rules of the big recording companies. Blogs showcase views that are independent of the large news networks.
It's no different when it comes to advertising agencies. Hotshops proliferate all over the world. What do they look for? Freedom. Freedom to be able to do things differently, to not follow the models imported from other countries. Freedom to do whatever they believe.
Here at Fischer we have some beliefs too. Strategic creativity is one of them. Surprising work that gets amazing results, beating expectations. It may be a campaign, promotion, guerilla activity or a change in packaging. All have the same starting point. Before the layouts and scripts, there are concepts. And before the ideas, there is the strategy. That's because campaigns and slogans disappear, but concepts withstand time.
We also believe there is no working model that lasts forever. That's why we don't adhere to the traditional model, in which the client is the centre of attention and everyone around tries to make him or her happy. In our style of working, the problem that needs solving is at the centre of everything and the client is part of the team that needs to come up with a solution. How is the problem solved? With "total communication".
This is not some kind of exaggerated claim to be shown on PowerPoint presentations. Total communication is the manifestation of a robust concept that works across all consumer contacts.
And if the market today enters the fantastic world of 360-degree communication, then we are well placed, having helped our clients build successful businesses in this way for years.
In fact, we have spent more than 25 years producing integrated communication campaigns. Some of them have become part of history, while others have become part of popular culture. What they have in common is the fact that they helped to make advertisers' businesses more profitable. Brands such as Honda, Heineken, Jameson, Pernod Ricard, Panasonic, Kraft, Melitta, Danone, Toyota, Calvin Klein, Electrolux, Credicard, Monsanto and LG, as well as respected local brands.
For us, advertising is only one part of the whole. The only truly effective communication is that which integrates all the disciplines around a strong concept that is relevant and encourages purchase. A good concept is one that works across PR, the sales patter, the call-centre script, the incentive campaign, the promotional theme and internet activity.
So how do you get to create a concept like that? By working independently. By asking questions that are outside the brief. By listening to clients, but having the freedom to disagree. By knowing what other (non-client) marketers and former clients think. By researching the trade, understanding the competition and analysing international trends in the sector. Finally, by auditing the brand.
Only then you will be ready to start creating something. This is what we believe. Total communication, efficient strategies and creativity. These are just some of our mantras.
The others? To sell spaces inside consumers' minds instead of spaces in media. To offer great ideas instead of great discounts. To be innovative instead of being a middleman. To transform a brand message into relevant and charming content. To deal in attraction instead of interruption. Contact instead of impact.
This is because consumers have changed. They've discovered new ways in which to relate with people, with change and with the world. And the biggest change is in the way they consume media. Evolving technology and multiple media have fragmented audiences and given consumers greater freedom and independence. Freedom to choose whatever, wherever, whenever and however they will consume. Independence to create, edit and share their own content.
This so-called digital generation on social networks, blogs, forums and wikis are the ones who now decide what is relevant or not, who edit the news, influence product sales with recommendations, create and destroy reputations in a blink, and create a flow of information that can no longer be controlled.
The mass media now shares the spotlight with media that is ever more personal and participative. Of course, mass media continues and will continue to exist, but forget the idea of segmenting consumers according to their profile, social class or age. They now need to be thought of as individuals and should be classified by their interest and experience, which completely changes the way in which companies talk to them.
We believe that brands must become greater parts of consumers' lives, to relate with them instead of imposing themselves. They need to start conversations in original and stimulating ways. The more intimacy they have with consumers, the faster they will grow and consolidate.
But technology does not replace ideas - no matter what the tool is, what the means are or how much the consumer changes. For us, the basic rule will always be "creativity and relevance".
Good ideas are never unfashionable. If they are surprising and relevant, they become virus marketing and generate buzz. We see communication as making a brand speak for itself, whether from the mouth of the people, via a PC keyboard, a cellphone or even the musical notes of a conversation between two people. It is what we believe. And in going after what we believe, there is only one way - as an independent.
Eduardo Fischer is the chairman and Antonio Fadiga is the chief executive of Fischer America Comunicacao Total.
AT A GLANCE
Name: Fischer America Comunicacao Total
Principals: Eduardo Fischer (chairman), Antonio Fadiga (chief executive officer), Isabelle Perelmuter (vice-president, planning), Flavio Casarotti (vice-president, creation), Claudio Venancio (vice-president, media)
Staff: 192 (Brasil)
Locations: Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Bogota
What's the future for independent agencies? It's promising, because advertisers are questioning global alignments more than ever and praising the differences of independents
How will you be part of it? By continuing to be independent. Fischer has already had experience of belonging to an international group. We decided to leave because more time was spent writing reports than on the essence of our business: great ideas.