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At Leo Burnett Tailor Made, we see creativity as something that can be everywhere. Everyone can find an innovative solution and contribute to a creative idea,” says Marie Alonso, executive vice president, creative data and strategy at Leo Burnett Tailor Made, the São Paulo–based office of the global ad agency founded in Chicago in 1935.

From left to right: chief executive officer and chief creative officer Marcelo Reis; executive vice president, creative data and strategy Marie Alonso; and executive vice president, creative experience Vinicius Stanzione. 

The agency landed on Brazilian soil in 1950, but it was only in 2011 that the office located in a five-story building on Rua Brejo Alegre in São Paulo’s peaceful Brooklin neighborhood became Leo Burnett Tailor Made, a joint venture between Leo Burnett Worldwide and the Brazilian ad agency Tailor Made. That year, it was led by Marcelo Reis, now partner and co-president of Leo Burnett Tailor Made; in 2014, while Reis was chief creative officer, the ad agency became the most awarded Brazilian ad agency at Cannes, winning a total of 22 Lions.

Considered today as one of Brazil’s principal agencies, Leo Burnett Tailor Made serves high-profile, longstanding clients like financial company Banco Bradesco, Fiat, personal care brand Nivea and Samsung through different fronts like immersive experiences, digital marketing, ad campaigns, activations, branding, digital analyses and strategic partnerships.

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The message is segmentation

In our multiplatform, multiscreen era, consumer experiences have become increasingly dematerialized, and consumer patience has dwindled. Conveying messages has become a greater challenge for advertisers, who must now find creative ways to reach the right audiences through digital ads without losing sight of opportunities in linear TV and print advertising. And they must do so in a way that adds value to everyone in the advertising ecosystem, from customers to content creators to consumers. Segmenting and concentrating the message for smaller groups has become more effective than mass dissemination.

But Leo Burnett Tailor Made isn’t intimidated by the complexity of today’s advertising: it has been wisely using these new tools to its advantage. For executive creative vice president Vinicius Stanzione, the moment is encouraging: “New problems generate new solutions,” he says. “We are only creative when we have new problems to solve.”

“These are complementary technologies,” says Reis. “Publicis Groupe—of which the agency is a part—works on the model of The Power of One in which it makes all its technology, data, automation, e-commerce and performance modeling tools available to its agencies. If we give up understanding technology, we stop understanding creativity. We have to know how to put the right message in the right place.”

For him, there’s no longer any control over what the consumer experiences, so now he looks for the most appropriate medium that, more than ever, is the message.

“Each brand has a different customer from the point of view of individual behavior; it doesn’t matter if they occupy the same social classification because what works for one doesn’t work for another,” Reis argues. “What we do is understand who they are, what they are thinking and living—with permission—and deliver messaging that has more affinity with each consumer. And this message’s flagship is the environment itself that demands specific strategies.”

“The agency’s role in the creative field is to try to keep its finger on the people’s pulse,” adds Stanzione.

“Increasingly accurate segmentation is key to success in this relationship,” says Anna Karina Silva Pinto, director of corporate marketing at Samsung, which has been a client of Leo Burnett Tailor Made for ten years. “A brand usually has several types of consumers who are in different stages of consumption, and it really needs to understand how to talk to the consumer in the most appropriate way possible. So, segmentation is the key, nowadays, to good communication.”

According to Reis, big ideas will never cease to exist because they are what the customer needs as a basis for communication. However, the tendency is to not replicate them as in the past. Instead, they are folded into new narratives based on the opportunity afforded by each channel: TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TV, radio, a podcast or on street furniture.

“Although 99 percent of people have a smartphone, we know that the internet is not cutting edge for everyone,” says Alonso. “For example, not everyone has 4G. Many people are always hunting for wi-fi. It’s no use making a super-heavy video full of effects to run on a slow internet because that will compromise the consumption of this asset. All this must be taken into account when thinking about the message and its format to impact a person.”

“A five-second message can sometimes be more interesting than a 30-second one when made to be exactly in style, in the public eye and as a way of communicating on a certain platform. Today, saying that the big idea is in large formats is a mistake,” Reis concludes.

New problems generate new solutions. We are only creative when we have new problems to solve.” —Vinicius Stanzione

Cutting-edge technologies and Generation Z: from games to the metaverse

Leo Burnett Tailor Made’s commitment to using cutting-edge technologies and innovation is driven, above all, by clients like Samsung, whose target audience is Generation Z. According to Stanzione, this generation dictates the behavioral trends of the moment. “Working with Samsung gives us the opportunity to research new tools available and understand more about this generation that is very creative and not easy to reach—because they do not like advertising,” he comments with a laugh.

For the launch of the Galaxy S23 5G, the agency created a campaign with three TV films shot entirely with the smartphone, showing off its advanced video capabilities and its potential impact on the industry. “That’s another reason why we like working with Samsung: it gives us that kind of opportunity,” Stanzione adds. “And that resonates well with Gen Z because their whole lives are captured on mobile. If they do that, then why can’t we as a company?”

In addition to the films, Samsung designed a map for the game Fortnite. Called Galaxy City, Samsung’s level comprises three islands: Party Island, Challenge Island and, the most recent, S23 Island—the latter developed in co-creation with the Discord gaming community. Leo Burnett Tailor Made was responsible above all for communications on the social networks to invite even more gamers to discover the island.

As well as the gaming universe, Leo Burnett Tailor Made has also been investing in metaverse activations. In July 2022, it launched NewsVerso, the first news portal operating on several platforms to insert the public in a healthy and responsible way—a pioneering application for this media. For Alonso, Leo Burnett Tailor Made approaches these new platforms with simple questions that precede their usage: “‘Does it make sense for the brands we work with to do some activation in this universe?’ It’s the same thing with games,” she explains. “[Games are] a giant universe. The number of brands that want to be there is huge because the potential for consumers [to be impacted] is huge. But does it make sense for them to be there?”

For example, she cites Leo Burnett Tailor Made’s campaign for Fiat’s new SUV Fastback, which originally launched a TV commercial in which the SUV makes a big leap over other cars. The agency decided to deploy the campaign in an in-game contest that invited streamers to choose the finalists of the jumping competition live on an influencer’s channel. “The film was about a leap in the scope of the automobile industry,” Alonso says. “There was a metaphor there. [So, taking the idea to] the metaverse made sense, and it worked.”

Out-of-home: the thermometer of the economy

With a 360-degree approach, Leo Burnett Tailor Made never lost sight of the streets and their creative opportunities. “Retail is the essence of our production because there we have the thermometer of the economy,” Reis declares.

An example of this was Destrave a boca (“Unlock the Mouth”), a campaign launching the new flavors of the XSenses line by sugarless gum brand Trident. Ludmilla and Fernandinho Beat Box, musical artists from Brazil’s pop universe, star in the campaign’s theme track. Additionally, Leo Burnett Tailor Made carried out activations at Carnivals in Rio de Janeiro and Olinda, Brazil, in which the public was invited to decorate their own mouths.

“When I saw the gigantic Trident panels, those beautiful, colorful mouths, I thought, ‘Wow, this is exactly what I wanted to see here,’” Reis says. “Carnival is about smiling, about kissing. [Our] agency values human contact. We are returning to the energy we had before [the pandemic], and the reflection is already appearing in increasingly relevant work. This is our goal in the coming years.”

When I talk to clients, I say, ‘All an agency has is its intellectual capital. It is the most valuable thing it has.’ We have to take care of each other and try to maintain an inspiring, respectful environment as much as possible because all we have is what’s inside our heads.” —Marie Alonso

Shadows of the craft

Recently, Giovana Madalosso, former publicist and columnist for newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, published an exposé on the degrading conditions of ad agencies through which she worked. The thorny subject hovers over the advertising world, where the pressure to deliver a presentation to please the client can make teams work all night. For Reis, this culture seems to have been fading away beginning in the early 2000s.

“I think that advertising is readjusting its [reputation] as something predatory perpetrated by ambitious people and clients wanting total delivery,” he comments. “But it’s a shame to blame clients for this because the agency must have a protective attitude.”

Alonso adds that all bad practices in the market are systemic and that it’s unfair to hold a single person responsible. “It’s always the result of a relationship, and that is the history of communication,” she reflects. “We are also responsible for this conversation and therefore capable to change the way we work.”

To combat this culture, Reis encourages employees and clients both to report practices. “Walking hand in hand [lets us] both feel the heat of the business but understand what is feasible and what is not,” he says.

New horizons

The return of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to the presidency for his third term in 2023 put an end to four turbulent years in Brazil, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the mismanagement by far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. The new government now faces the challenge of rebuilding the country and bringing back open dialogue, environmental and social policies, and attracting new business.

“These were years of a government with a conflict of values that encouraged friction,” Reis says. “All that communications seeks to do, in our relationship with the consumer, is to remove friction. That’s why we were very bothered during those four years. People now, regardless of their political positions, are living at the end of that friction that hindered consumption, growth and evolution. Society is now moving toward an inclusive, democratic, kind and careful attitude, centered on diversity and fighting against prejudice and [discrimination]. Advertising is very much based in this optimism.”

“When I talk to clients, I say, ‘All an agency has is its intellectual capital. It is the most valuable thing it has,’” says Alonso. “We have to take care of each other and try to maintain an inspiring, respectful environment as much as possible because all we have is what’s inside our heads. If we’re not well, we’re not going to deliver anything valuable.”

And, as Reis concludes: “Mr. Burnett used to say: ‘What’s good for people is good for business.’” ca

Thais Gouveia is a cultural communicator based in São Paulo. Today, she works as a communication coordinator at Museum of Art of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand. Her experience includes eight years in the journalistic field, having produced, edited and written for Spring Editora and Editora Abril magazines, and publishing critical texts in national and international titles including ArtReview magazine, Folha de S.Paulo and Newcity Brazil, among others.


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