Vamos, vamos, Argentina!
When talking about advertising in South America you’re sometimes exposed to hear about certain (and false) cliches: for instance, “Brazil is really good at graphic work, and only at graphic work” or “Argentina is really good doing TV work, and only doing TV work”. I wasn’t even interested in advertising when I saw on TV this commercial done for the new (then) Renault Clio. Years later I knew about their creators, Agulla&Baccetti, and some of their legendary (and multiawarded) campaigns, being also a seeder of new talents (with the likes of extremely succesful people in later years such as Juan Cabral or Leandro Raposo, among many many many many others) Did i say “many” enough?
Being one of the things I like the most about all of that works was the way in which emotions were expressed through images, it is often said that creativity in Argentina was dramatically fed because of the infamous Corralito situation in 2001, which almost completely froze bank accounts and forbade withdrawals from U.S. dollar-denominated accounts. The tone of TV spots, introspective until then, became more of cheerful, trying to help people to overcome the sadness they were living. As part of this anomalous situation you can even find three minutes length tv ads done by Madre for Banco Hipotecario, being the length of the ad part of the strategy as to try people believing in banking again.
Being said that, and having emotion as the main resource of advertising it always seemed kind of weird to me not being able to find digital campaigns able to connect with digital worldwide audiences when the new advertising scenario came out, at least at the same level in which those TV spots connected with their audiences in many different countries.
Obviously, doing TV is following a really standard process, it is the same one in Argentina, Sweden or Japan (idea, scripting, filming, releasing, with more or less money for production) Doing digital is kind of different because of the technological limitations and infrastructures of each country and, to tell the truth, here in Central/South America we’re really far behind from places like Europe or North America. When the standard Internet connection is 50kb/s instead of 20Mb/s, and the budgets are limited because of that so the productions to be done are limited too, doing digital advertising becomes like pioneering something, hopefully better in the future but really hard to walk through in the present.
In the past I met a lot of people from Argentina involved with the technology because of the tools, mainly Adobe (former Macromedia) User Groups, but only a few involved with technology because storytelling or advertising or whatever you wanna call it. But there are some! And yet they are commited to build an industry from scratch, which is really valuable to me because of their claim about the importance of the digital thing, even if some of them are not labelled as “digital” creatives.
So now something is moving in Argentina; and now it’s possible finding some campaigns using digital as a really important part of their core ideas, like this “Todos por un pelo” campaign done by Santo for Arnet, a Telecom bandwith provider, in which a bald guy uses a website to ask people subscribing the service and for every subscriber he will get grafted one hair. When he became too hairy he still asked people to subscribe but instead, for each subscriber he would get one hair removed.
A month ago or so, my friend Fer Barbella, from BBDO Argentina, sent me their new campaign called “Garantia para inquilinos” (“Renters’ guarantee”) for Banco Supervielle, “here we go with banking again” i thought. Divided into two parts (a fantasy one and a reality one) it tries to offer a solution to a very common problem in Argentina when renting a house. You can have as much money as you want, but if you don’t have anyone supporting you, you can’t rent anything at all. And it’s complicated getting a supporter, as they often give some excuses not to do that. So the bank itself offers you being your supporter.
“Pedi 3 deseos” (“Ask for 3 wishes”), the fantasy part, the first site, introduces Eugene, the first genie of the lamp that does not concede any of the wishes that you ask him to make come true, inventing his own wide range of excuses. One of the most noticeable things is the use of video. Although it’s very common today the use of video shooting with a chroma key to recreate a virtual environment in which the character interacts, seeing this coming from an argentinean production is like a quantum leap talking about their local client’s budgets.
“Cansado de las excusas” (“Tired of excuses”), the second part, the reality one, is based on a main character, Matias, asking friends and some family to support him and recording the answers (or do I mean excuses) with a hidden camera. If you want to know how can you tie “economic crisis” with “Obama” with “not supporting someone for renting a house”, you should check it out, some excuses are really hilarious.
The valuable thing is that although BBDO Argentina has some digital-type roles and employees, there isn’t any “interactive department” in the agency: they all work together, which has some kind of sense, avoiding being so arrogant as to think that, for instance, only digital department can understand the digital medium when it all should be about ideas.
So having in mind that later in 2008 I had seen awarded at TheFWA a hot-site done by them and called 7Up Lima Free, in which you could play being a VJ or DJ to remix a Zucker’s theme (one of the stars in argentinean electronic music scene) I got interested in what BBDO was doing in the interactive field, so I went on to visit their current sheet of works.
Last week I found a project called “Mandale un mensaje a tu ex” (“Send a message to your ex”) that they did for “Paso de los Toros” (a drink from Pepsico Group) due to Valentine’s day, saying that sweetness doesn’t end up thirst and inviting people to stop being sweet about Valentine’s day and saying something to their ex’s. The most voted ones were selected to be published in Clarin newspaper (the most read in Argentina). Following up the most corny love messages section because of Valentine’s day you could find the most bitter messages selected by the users from the site, in a really funny mood and making the brand so visible because of it.
As you can see, in the end these projects are not about great productions but about solid ideas engaging people and adding value to the digital experience on its own, besides the actions being done in other media. Which means bigger budgets for the digital field in the future, which hopefully means better productions in the future.
Well, I’ve written a lot, but I think it was worth because I think that traditionally less highlighted industries should see the light too, to motivate them, making them grow. I believe in inspiration but I don’t think a whole campaign can depend on just waiting for a creative spark, I think it’s necessary some kind of systematic process of research that nurtures creativity, defines a style and makes that spark fittable into client’s needs. And then you can have brilliant projects or not-so-brilliant projects, but having a methodology and a style makes success much closer than just waiting for the one-hit wonder. And I think that the guys from BBDO in Argentina are doing it very well and are setting the bar for the ones to come.
Dale Argentina nomas!