The social post is the new print.
For the past five years, Eduardos own work has been a regular presence in the pages of Archive magazine. Michael Weinzettl spoke to Eduardo about both his selections for this issue and his career to date, which has seen him work in Brazil, Bahrain and, currently, in the US.
Hi Eduardo, first of all thank you very much for selecting this issue’s crop of digital. Looking at the work by you featured in the pages of previous volumes of Lürzer’s Archive magazine, I couldn’t help noticing that you spent some time at DDB&Co in Istanbul. How did that come about? I guess you won’t find many Brazilian creatives in Turkish agencies, except for Lucas Zaiden, who you worked with there. (About seven years ago, at BBDO Moscow, he did a great campaign for our magazine, the slogan of which – “Great Ads. No one knows how. Everyone knows where” – we are still using to this day.)
Karpat Polat is a great friend. We did a few projects together with Lucas Zaiden. Lucas is another good friend and a very talented guy. We used to work together at Ogilvy Interactive Brazil too. I’m still in touch with both of them. Karpat recently visited LA with his family so I got to see him in person, which was great! Lucas is working at AKQA San Francisco right now, so he’s very close and I hope to see him soon.
Can you tell us how it was your career evolved over several continents? How did you start out?
When I was living in São Paulo – the financial capital of Brazil (and the advertising capital too) – after coming from my little hometown, I lost my dream job. I was at DM9DDB at the time, a very iconic global agency. I was trying to reintegrate back into the market, coming back to work at a big agency after working there, but I knew no one. I was lost, without connections, in a big city, without a job. After that, I spent four months visiting agencies, spending what little money I had. I visited nearly 40 agencies and no one gave me a job, except for one small agency that hired me for a freelance project: DeBrito Propaganda. Thank God they did, because at that point I was living on bread and water. After that freelance gig, they wanted to hire me full-time, and I was so happy to be employed! But I was ambitious too. I have always dreamt big. I kept improving my portfolio and sent it to agencies around the world. Yes, I sent it to almost every continent, and every single country, every single network. That equates to roughly a thousand emails at the time. The strategy was that if I could get a good position at a good network, then maybe a nice agency in São Paulo would want me back. Next, I decided to go full-on, asking for an ACD/CD position, something I’d never done before. One day I received an email from JWT Bahrain and, in less than one month, I was a CD in a completely different country, in a different region with a culture unlike anything I’d ever experienced. The hardest, and yet the best, experience I’ve had in my life. And you know what? Nine months later, Ogilvy Interactive Brazil offered me a job and I happily came back to Brazil. My plan worked! I stayed four great years at Ogilvy and did some of the most memorable work of my life there.
When did you first get interested in advertising in any form, and where did you get trained up for it? I guess that, growing up in Brazil, you were exposed to it from an early age …
As a young child, I was always changing games and their rules, and inventing new games. This was my way of making sure my friends were never bored. I was always looking for new adventures. My mom told me I had good (and bad, and sometimes mean…) ideas. So one day, as a teenager watching TV, I told mom, “I want to do that,” pointing to an awesome commercial. And here I am, creating bad ideas every day, with a few good ones sprinkled in there too.
What was the very first agency you worked at and what was the experience like?
When I started at university, I was learning all these theoretical ideas, but what I really wanted to do was get practical experience. I started to intern, offering myself up to agencies and working for free. Rodrigo Pimenta gave me a job at Divisao de Propaganda (which doesn’t exist anymore) as a copy intern, and sometimes I needed to pay for the commute. So, yes, I was spending money, but I saw this as an investment. Rodrigo was tough and a great guy at the same time. He taught me about perseverance, and how quantity generates quality. So my first briefing was for a bank poster. He didn’t see anything before I had 200 different lines to present. I still have some of those posters today, 21 years later.
You’ve worked in your native Brazil, in Turkey, and now in the US. What are some of the differences between working in these places when it comes to agency cultures, ways of working, ways of life …
I created campaigns for Turkey but was based in Brazil. I worked in Bahrain for almost a year. These countries are completely different. Compared to Brazil, which is a very creative country with hardworking people, Bahrain is very conservative, where culture is exquisite and advertising looks older. It’s harder to innovate there, and I had a lot of creatives throwing in the towel, asking for sick days all the time. They are all amazing people and I had a lot of great friends there, though. Advertising-wise, however, the country really does need a push.
In the US, when compared to Brazil, the budgets differ greatly. US budgets are much bigger and it’s a media-agnostic market so creatives are free to think about the big idea and then translate it into deliverables. In Brazil, it starts with the deliverables (we need to have TV, radio and billboard, for example). Here, we have more time to think, to have a solid strategy, to produce it. In Brazil, deadlines are crazy, so you often see people leaving the agencies around midnight – or not leaving at all. Sad, really.
But what’s great about the Brazilian market is the talent: very hardworking people with great energy and leadership skills. If you look at agencies around the world, you’ll always find a Brazilian.
Also when it comes to digital, experiential work? Have you noticed a difference in attitudes toward these areas (as opposed to classical ad media such as print and TV) across the different cultures?
Budgets are different from market to market. What we see, even in smaller markets, is that digital and experiential campaigns are growing drastically because of budget constraints. Instead of spending a lot of money on traditional media, clients are going directly to something that is less expensive but is very effective.
What are some of the campaigns created by you – or under your creative direction – that you are proudest of? I know that you’ve done brilliant work across all media.
One of the most beautiful campaigns I’ve ever created, and that I’m really proud of, is one for Airbnb that I did with my partner Rafael Rizuto, someone I continue to work with today, when we were at Pereira O’Dell. We called it Birdbnb, and we did something that our producers told us was impossible. We asked ourselves: “Who is the ultimate traveler in the world?” Birds are! They travel from continent to continent, migrating for months. The idea was to create a place for them to rest, somewhere in the middle of their migration. We built 50 birdhouses, exact replicas of Airbnb’s most amazing houses, and we hung them on the Tree of Life in New Orleans – a migratory route. We hired a biologist and an ornithologist to make sure the birds would pass by and stay. They prepared the food on the little houses, some other seeds were put around the area, all with a lot of care! When we saw the birds come and stop by, it was one of the most amazing miracles to see.
Unfortunately, the project needed to be taken down after three weeks because HomeAway, the main competitor, had a birdhouse on their logo. Airbnb decided not to defend it and took the work down. It was one of the saddest days of my life – and it happened during Christmas. We couldn’t submit it to any festival either, so the work was kind of forgotten in the world of advertising. But thank you for the opportunity to talk about it here! Can I send you the link? ;)
Can you name a couple of your favorite campaigns out there at the moment (other than the work you’ve selected for Lürzer’s Archive)?
The work David the Agency has been doing recently is phenomenal: the “Pass the Heinz” campaign, a reverse-product-placement where they take the campaign from the fantasy world of Mad Men and place it in real life is brilliant. The Burger King TV spot that talks to Google Home, asking it: “What’s the Whopper?” is breakthrough! And the Halloween Burger King store, dressed like a ghost McDonald’s, is so much fun!
We ourselves did one that I’d like to mention too if I may: Boost Your Voice. Boost Mobile is a prepaid mobile company that serves low-income communities. During the US election, these people had a huge nightmare – they spent 7, 8 and even 9 hours in line to vote! The system is so bad that it makes it harder and harder for them to vote (maybe because of another agenda behind it, and we tell this full story in a documentary we did after creating this work). Boost Mobile stores are located in these communities, so they did the unprecedented: after a year of fighting against the system, they joined the system and turned their stores into voting stations, helping people so their voices could be heard.
Tell us a bit about 180LA, located in beautiful Santa Monica. How long has this agency been around? Is it part of a network or independent? How long have you been there? What are some of the challenges and opportunities you have had there?
180LA is a dream agency: located by the ocean, we can smell the salt in the air. Lots of natural light permeates the office, and breathing that fresh air energizes us. The LA agency will soon be celebrating its tenth anniversary. It started as an independent agency but was bought by Omnicom in recent years. We still have that independent, hotshop feel, which keeps us on our toes! I’ve been here for two years and still think we have a lot of challenges and great opportunities ahead. Building culture is one of the hardest, but we’re doing everything the way we should to get there. We push ourselves to do better and better work and that’s what we do. It’s not about processes or structures or positions. The agency is seen, loved or hated for the work we make.
One question I always ask our curators of digital work: Do you think there will be a future for print advertising?
For me, the social post is the new print. You still have to be very concise, simple, and brilliant at the same time. But now, instead of paper, it’s on a digital screen.
You’ve won several awards – D&ADs among them – for your work over the course of your career. What is your take on award shows? What are the awards you respect most? Are you going to Cannes this year?
Advertising professionals don’t live for their salaries alone. We suffer daily with all our ideas being killed every single time. We need some glory too. And glory is made by recognition. There’s nothing more beautiful than being recognized for the work you’ve fought for, and being recognized by your peers, and even your competitors. So, yes, awards are really important for the health of our industry and its professionals, and for the business too. Awards are a byproduct of great work. When great work is being done, it makes the agency sexier and attracts more talent and keeps the great talent in-house. Better talent produces even better work. Better work attracts new clients and new business. It’s a cycle where everybody wins.
So, yeah, as you’ve guessed, I’m going to Cannes this year because nothing is more inspiring!
How does Eduardo Marques recharge his batteries? How do you relax, unwind?
I go to the gym. I travel with family, hitting a nice beach spot. Or I go to a bar with friends. Or do an awesome Brazilian BBQ at my house. I think being surrounded by the people you love is the best way to relax and unwind. Unless I’m taking a phenomenal nap – that’s really awesome too!