5 minutes with... in association withAdobe Firefly

5 Minutes with… Vini Dalvi

Advertising Agency
Toronto, Canada
Publicis Canada’s new CCO discusses the era he envisions for the agency, being responsibly selfish, and why work can’t just be passable, writes LBB’s Josh Neufeldt

For those following the Canadian advertising scene, you’re probably well aware that with the departure of Joanna Monteiro, former executive creative director Vini Dalvi stepped into the role of chief creative officer at Publicis Canada. 

Working alongside newly unveiled co-managing directors Bobby Malhotra and Serene Gaspar, this represents the start of a new era for the agency - one focused on strong partnerships, amplified quality of work, and attaining global reach. And to this end, Vini absolutely has the right portfolio for the job. Boasting experience as a former creative director at TBWA\Media Arts Lab in London, and having also spent periods in Italy and his native Brazil, Vini’s time working on the likes of Apple, Heineken, Renault and Diesel, positively reflect his ability to step into such big shoes and deliver on Publicis’ vision of success. 

So, to learn more about his career, and, importantly, how the early days as CCO have gone, LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Vini for a chat. 

LBB> The big news is that you just got promoted to CCO at Publicis - congratulations! How are you feeling at this present time, and what does this mean to you?  

Vini> It's a mixed-feeling situation, as this promotion coincided with Joanna Monteiro’s departure, and she will be greatly missed. On a positive note, I'm super excited about what the future holds. We've been working on strengthening partnerships with clients and restructuring internally so we can set ourselves up for success when it comes to getting creative work done. It’s an exciting time, and I’m eager to continue pushing creative boundaries!

LBB> Stepping into this role is no small task. As such, how have you readied yourself for this opportunity? And what are you hoping to accomplish both individually, and as an agency?  

Vini> You know, when originally discussing the offer to join Publicis Toronto, stepping up as CCO in the future was part of it. So, for the past year and a half as the ECD of the agency, I've been working across most of our clients and diving deeper into managing a large agency from the creative side and working on pitches. My main focus has revolved around fostering strong partnerships with our clients, amplifying the calibre of our work, and guiding our creative teams to push our work and create famous projects within Canada and also globally.  

LBB> Obviously, you’re not alone in the transition, as the agency just announced its new co-managing directors. How will you be working with them to bring in the new era of Publicis in Canada?  

Vini> I couldn't be happier to have Bobby Malhotra and Serene Gaspar as teammates in this new phase for Publicis Canada. We're super excited to collaborate closely and kick off a fresh chapter for the agency right here in Canada. It's a thrilling time to be part of Publicis, especially with all the incredible creative momentum happening in offices globally. We're eager for Publicis Toronto to play a bigger role in this worldwide wave of success, and working together with our new co-managing directors, we'll bring in the new era of Publicis in Canada.  

Left to right: Bobby, Serene, Vini

LBB> And what are the most exciting aspects of this period? What will be changing, if anything, from the previous period under Joanna Monterio’s leadership?  

Vini> The most exciting aspect is the vibrant creative culture that has flourished not only within our department, but that has also extended to the entire agency. Naturally, there will be differences in approach between Joanna and I – a common occurrence with changes in leadership. However, our core mission will remain steadfast: to turn Publicis into the most creative agency in Canada.  

LBB> Let’s talk a bit more about you! How would you describe your leadership style, and what factors have played the biggest influence on this? 

Vini> Haha, that's not an easy question to answer myself! I'd say it starts with a close alignment with strategy and account, and then spending a lot of time with creative leaders and teams. I really enjoy spending time with them, discussing ideas, and not rushing to conclusions. I believe in giving proper time for open conversations about the work. The most impactful projects I've been a part of involved pushing the idea as far as it could go until it got as strong as it could, through the message and its craft. My time working for Apple in the UK at Media Arts Lab and Publicis Milan has had a profound influence in this regard.

LBB> Speaking of international work, how has your experience in varying markets impacted the way you do work in Canada, if at all? And what makes Canada so special that you’ve chosen to stay here?  

Vini> I've been lucky enough to work in four different countries, collaborating with major clients like Heineken, Diesel, Apple, and Coca-Cola. So, I believe I can bring a valuable global perspective and experience with large-scale global productions to benefit our local clients. Also, the craft and attention to detail that you naturally need to have to be up on your game when working with clients like Apple are things that can continue to push our creative departments and help our clients.  

LBB> Building on this, what are your thoughts on the state of marketing in Canada? Where is Publicis' place in all of that, and where will you be trying to take it going into 2024?

Vini> The Canadian market stands strong, ranking among the world’s top players. It's funny how many other ad people I've worked with who realise how many strong Canadian agencies are here when I start to list them or their work, and some of them didn't know they were from Canada. Recent awards show performances also confirm the momentum of the Canadian market. If anything, we should be louder about it since the work done here is outstanding and doesn't always get the deserved recognition as a top creative ad industry in the world like the UK, US, France, Brazil, Argentina, etc. Each market industry is also a brand that needs work on it.

Our creative goal is to be among the top agencies in Canada in 2024 in terms of creativity. We're one of Canada’s largest agencies, and our aim is to be well-represented in both creativity and recognition. We know that it's not an easy task, with so many agencies doing great work out there. But, hey, adapting to the Canadian winter wasn't the easiest thing either, and here I am, loving it.

LBB> Keeping on the subject of industry trends, as a whole, how has advertising changed since you first got started? What do you find most exciting, and what's kept the experience fresh?

Vini> There are some trends that come and go, like skinny pants and baggy pants (apparently, skinny pants are not far away from becoming a fashion trend again - ugh). Some years, it's all about being fun and making the audience laugh, while in other years, the focus shifts towards evoking deeper emotions and even tears. However, luckily, some things came to stay and are not going anywhere, like diversity representation and the way brands now must bring other groups to the centre of their communication strategies. This shift has forced a wider dialogue that also pushes agencies and the industry to check themselves. This change is no longer optional, which makes the industry a much better place than it was when I started.

LBB> And what are some of the campaigns from your career that you're most proud of? What made them special, and how do you plan to recapture similar magic as CCO?

Vini> It's hard to pick one. They are all special for different reasons. However, I have a lot of love for the Heineken ‘Unmissable’ campaign. We shot with Megaforce, a fantastic collective of directors. Growing up as a soccer fan, it never gets old to see your childhood friends watching your ad during the match breaks that you used to watch together. 

Also, the ‘Be a Follower’ campaign for Diesel was a personal realisation. Like most Brazilians, we memorise most of the good (and bad) ads when we join the industry. And Diesel was always among the iconic campaigns, and being able to work with this brand was a milestone for me.

My goal in bringing this magic to the work is to keep pushing to find that unexpected angle that makes people feel emotions about what you've put out there, whether it's laughter, sarcasm, emotion, or falling in love. It can't just be passable.

LBB> For any juniors looking to get to know you in your new role, is there any advice or words of wisdom you'd like to offer? What would you tell your past self about what it takes to succeed in the industry?

Vini> It's not very often that you have a career where your actual work will lead to growth opportunities or better offers. Unlike many professions where success is often measured by time spent in a specific role and accumulated expertise, the creative field operates differently. It’s all about the success of the projects you’ve worked on. 

My advice to any young creative is to be responsibly selfish. Every creative is a business within a business. Think about the best work you can put in your portfolio. Keep pushing for the best work you can do for that brief. If you manage to sell that idea and it solves the client's problem, you can do the best you can for your career, something no boss can do for you. Being responsibly selfish will benefit you, your agency, and your client.

LBB> Finally, with the rigours of taking on this new title, it's extra important to find time to relax. As such, what helps you unwind after long days at work?

Vini> I once heard that if marathoners couldn’t bring up in conversations that they run marathons, there would be no marathoners at all. Having said that, marathon training really helps me maintain discipline in taking care of myself and unwinding. Once in a while, I also venture myself into refurbishing furniture, which is quite therapeutic too. Another therapeutic option is having actual therapy. That really helps, haha!

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