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São Paulo

Making an Emotional Connection: A Q-and-A with Wilson Mateos, VP Creative/ECD, Leo Burnett Tailor Made

The Sao Paulo creative lead discusses reaching audiences, and making work that really resonates.

Leo Burnett Tailor Made is known for its ever-fresh and varied approach to creative work, marked by surprising interventions in people’s lives and evocative, emotional connections that leave an impression. Leo Burnett’s VP creative / ECD Wilson Mateos discusses how they take “Acts Not Ads” to heart and exemplify Leo Burnett’s HumanKind ethos.

1. We see a trend in the work you do. Both Samsung Galaxy S9 and ESPN Sportscenter Emojify were moments of intervention in consumers’ daily life—meeting people where they already were, but in a way that they weren’t expecting. How do you identify what the right moments are for brands to confront consumers?

Exactly like this: when consumers are not waiting. In these times of digital, social content, the best advertising doesn’t look like advertising. People easily understand and value when you are giving something in exchange for their attention—entertainment, service, a pleasant surprise, anything. In this way, advertising does not look like white noise or interruption.

2. Another trend we see is social consciousness, like with The Foolitzer Prize and Brewdogs + Waze campaign—both great examples of “Acts Not Ads.” Tell us about the creative role in such campaigns, both in bringing them to life and in elevating people’s awareness of such issues.

Those are two good examples where the client asked for a regular campaign, and we answered with something else. Because when it comes to PSAs or social consciousness, people have been exposed to ads for centuries. It’s hard—if not impossible—to come with a TV spot or a print ad with a completely new approach. But when you create an award for fake news or populate the Waze with an oddly high number of accidents, people engage in a new way. You play with their curiosity first and then deliver the message. You make them feel like part of the conversation and not like, "Oh, here comes those ad people trying to teach me how to live my life." And, yes, that’s the spirit of “Acts Not Ads” after all.

3. Your work is seen all over the world, and has won many international accolades—Clios, Effies and Cannes Lions. When you’re thinking about your next campaigns, how much do you think about global perception? How do you distinguish between work that reaches people and work that resonates with people.

Nowadays, “reach” can be just a matter of media. That’s what programmatic is all about, right? On the other hand, “resonate” is a creative assignment. You are talking about emotions, personal values, feelings, things that are the common factors that connect every human being, no matter where they live or what they do for a living. The more universal, primal, basic the emotion you spark, the bigger your chance to be successful. That’s why this discussion about data versus creativity is pointless to me. No matter how much data you have, you will always need some level of emotional connection.

4. Speaking of global reach and resonance, what unique quality does Sao Paulo bring to the Leo Burnett Worldwide network?

You never know what can come from us! We are unpredictable. We can hack the Waze for a “Don’t drink and drive” campaign as much as we can come with a TV show presented by emojis. We can present a very beautiful, well-crafted print campaign for FIAT as much as we can present an app with AI through voice for the same client, same briefing. I don’t want people defining us like “they are good AT…” something. I’d rather be described as “They are good,” period. We don’t take formulas, not even those that worked very well for us in the past. That’s why, besides “Leo Burnett,” our name is also “Tailor Made.”

5. When you think of the HumanKind approach to creating work, what does it mean to you and your work – in your own words?

Very simple: people have their lives already. They have their dreams, their problems, their ambitions, their dilemmas, their values. You, as a brand, don’t need to create any of those things. They are there. You just need to fill the gaps. Your product must be part of a solution, an answer, not part of a question that doesn’t even exist.

6. Describe how Leo Burnett Tailor Made reflects the values and work of Leo Burnett the man, based on the following words:

Innovation: Try the harder way. Sooner or later it’s going to pay off.

Storytelling: Touch the very core of human nature. Good stories are universal.

Creative solutions: We've never had so many tools to deliver a message, to communicate, to sell, to be creatives. Try them all. Have fun. Go nuts.

HumanKind: Since ever, human beings are connected by emotions. Neither by spec sheets nor by data. Brands, be human. You can't go wrong this way.