5 Minutes with… Marcelo Reis
Marcelo Reis is a creative force to be reckoned with. The Partner and Co-President of Leo Burnett Tailor Made (of which he is also a founder and also both CCO and CEO), was recently dubbed Adman of the Year by Prêmio Colunistas (the Columnists Awards) in Brazil. It isn’t really surprising when you consider his career. After studying architecture and advertising at two different universities, he decided to focus his mind on communications, and within months of his first role in adland he was elected to attend Cannes Lions as a young creative. He’s (almost) been a mainstay in the Brazilian industry ever since with stints at W/Brasil, Locudda, Y&R, Lew’Lara\TBWA, Leo Burnett Brasil (before the formation of Tailor Made), and DM9DDB, who he helped bag Agency of the Year at the 2009 Cannes Lions.
But after some creative rejuvenation in 2010 at Hyper Island in London, he saw a gap in the market and launched Tailor Made, which eventually merged with Leo Burnett. LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with him to find out more.
LBB> You’re the CEO and CCO at Leo Burnett Tailor Made - how do you balance both of those roles?
MR> I believe this is one of the greatest challenges that any CCO, who adds the role of CEO, has when dealing with people management matters and while analysing the financial goals of the company. As for the daily creative work, there is absolutely no conflict since it’s unquestionable that creativity brings short and long term results.
LBB> How did you first get into the advertising industry? I know you studied advertising, so was it always part of the plan? Why?
MR> My goal has always been to work with creativity, which was why I went to two creative universities: I studied architecture and advertising at the same time. After two years I decided to continue just with communication because I believed it was a better match with my working profile, even though I am a huge admirer of architecture and design. Writing is my strongest side.
LBB> After starting your career, you moved to New York in 2007 to study screenwriting. Why did you make this decision and how has it benefited your career in adland?
MR> Studying screenwriting in NYFA was one of the most amazing things I ever did in my life. It recycled me. It showed me that I still have a lot to learn. It left me with a seed for the future. And it also gave me more knowledge about filming techniques and scripts. I encourage it to all communication professionals who want to expand their horizons.
LBB> You also moved to London in 2010 to study at the Master Classes at Hyper Island – I think that was after you had helped DM9DDB win Agency of the Year at Cannes Lions 2009? I guess for some it could have been easy to rest on your laurels at that point - why did you opt to move to Hyper Island?
MR> I did not leave DM9 after the Lions of July 2009 – I left in October 2010 when I detected it was time for a creative renovation. Going to Hyper Island was just a learning movement I decided to include in my annual agenda. I just returned from Singularity https://su.org/ and I loved the experience and recommend it to professionals from all areas.
LBB> That then led you to launching Tailor Made in 2011 (before the merger with Leo Burnett) - what inspired you to launch the agency and what were your main aims when you did so?
MR> We launched an agency at a time when Brazil seemed to be going in the direction of sustainable growth, and that proved to be a political fraud. Only now is Brazil really struggling to grow and stop the problems related to poor management of public money. At that time we wanted to create an agency model that was directed to the business needs of the brands and connected with the C-level of the clients. I think we conquered it, because this format worked and continues to live today in Leo Burnett Tailor Made’s philosophy.
LBB> Which pieces of recent work from Leo Burnett Tailor Made are you particularly proud of and why?
MR> I am very proud of the innovation projects we made for Samsung. There was Gabriel Medina’s surfboard [read more about that in our interview here]. There was also a VR experience that helped people with hearing impediments go to the theatre. And, of course, the launch of Samsung S8.
Samsung ‘Theater For All Ears’
Launching Fiat Mobi, and now the new Fiat Argo were unique experiences for the whole team. Two impeccable jobs. And there’s Fiat Toro on the way.
And among other campaigns, we are trying to convince Paul McCartney to sing ‘Die and Let Live’ to promote organ donations for ABTO (Brazilian Association of Organ Transplantation). It’s the dream of a heart recipient. I am sure we will succeed; he is an extraordinary star. Oh, I will accept help from anyone with a more personal contact with Paul.
LBB> Latin America is a particularly interesting region within the ad world right now - traditionally Brazil and Argentina have been the big players, but smaller countries such as Colombia and Peru really punch above their weight. What are your thoughts on this?
MR> I believe that all of Latin America is developing creatively and this has a lot to do with the region gaining commercial relevance in the rest of the world. Communication grows together with the economy. The problem is that we live surrounded by political and economic crises, which does not help the region at all. But we are resilient and will overcome the situation.
LBB> Looking back, what advice do you wish you’d had when you started out?
MR> If you work hard, with ethics, respect and have creativity as a goal, take it easy, because things happen at their own pace. But, that is something nobody tells you, you only learn from experience.
LBB> Do you think advertising is still an attractive career to young people, compared to when you started?
MR> Yes, I believe that advertising is more attractive now than it was when I began in this market. There are more channels, more media, more opportunities, more platforms, higher volume of available budgets, and an endless desire for innovation. People starting today are very lucky.
LBB> What’s exciting you about advertising right now? And what’s frustrating you?
MR> The same answer as before: more channels, more media, more opportunities, more platforms, higher volume of available budgets, and an endless craving for innovation.
What really frustrates me is this wave of pessimism from those who have not yet adapted to the market’s creative changes and continue to depreciate what’s new. Another point that really bothers me is this false image that was created where ad agencies are not interested in the clients’ business, but only in their advertising.
Advertising is just about business and innovation.
LBB> Outside of advertising, what inspires you? And who are your creative heroes and why?
MR> Movies, literature, kitesurfing, running, being around friends and family, traveling to unusual places, like North Korea. I am the anxious type, so anything that takes me out of inertia is very stimulating. I like to learn, feel like a trainee again. As for heroes, that’s a difficult answer. I admire a number of human beings, but I don’t have any idols, I don’t follow anyone. I am quite rational about that.