In the spring of this year…
Let’s start again. Spring doesn’t come in March where this story takes place.
In March of 2014, just as winter released its grip on Buenos Aires, Pablo Del Campo assumed the creative leadership of Saatchi & Saatchi. He’s not the first Latin American to take the creative reins of a global network, but consider where his office is. He’s staying in Buenos Aires, and taking monthly excursions to London and New York.
Del Campo is one of several global creative leaders to speak at El Ojo de Iberoamérica, the seventeen year old Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese advertising festival that is just now emerging from its gawkward phase. While some blemishes remain—the schedule is more a statement of intent than an actual agenda—El Ojo is setting adolescence aside to emerge as a typically beautiful Argentine creation.
Buenos Aires, known as Paris of the South, earned its honorific from its wide boulevards and beautiful, European-style architecture. And it is lovely, but up close, the beauty is marred a bit by graffiti, decaying facades, and empty buildings. It’s the result of decades of economic insecurity and, perhaps, a culture that refuses to stay frozen in place. Even the old districts of San Telmo, Recoleta, and Palermo, which in other cities would be protected zones for tourists on urban safaris, are spotted with new buildings sticking out like bright white crowns in a smoker’s mouth.
Argentina is, in Del Campo’s own words, a peripheral country, but globalization has changed the meaning of peripheral, enabling a citizen of Buenos Aires to lead a global agency without moving to New York or London. The once central cities now look to the so-called periphery for deeper, more emotional, more human work. The campaigns Del Campo considers the standard-setters—Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, IBM’s Smarter Cities billboards, Volvo’s Epic Split—didn’t come from London or New York. They came from Sao Paulo or France or Sweden. Big technological ideas—like “The Magic of Flying” for British Airways or “The Sound of Honda”—still may emerge from London or Tokyo. Once the gee-whiz factor wears off, something Del Campo believes is happening now, the need for humanity reappears, and that is a need Latin American creatives will fill. They, Del Campo asserts, add deeply felt emotion and uncomfortable truths to global campaigns. That’s the wonder of the region and the source of its beauty. There’s no vicious culling going on. It’s not fall here now. It’s spring, and humanity’s beauty is shining through.