“McCann has been growing uninterruptedly since 2016” – Meios & Publicidade

McCann Lisboa now has a triple creative leadership, reporting directly to the CEO, leaving behind the chief creative officer. In an interview with M&P, Luís Pereira Santos explains the changes in the agency’s structure, where the digital area, like design, becomes an autonomous business unit.

“We need to have specialized teams, but to enhance multidisciplinarity in each project. We will have three creative units, but the direction will work as a triple.” This is how the CEO of McCann Lisboa describes the model on which the agency’s new structure in the Portuguese market is based. “I felt that, with this team, it was time to focus on the development of each expertise and not on the hierarchy. The added value lies in the creative and strategic depth more than in the figure of the executive creative director”, points out the official.

The changes to the structure were known in mid-July. Rita Salvado, chief creative officer for the past seven years, has left the agency. Rodrigo Cardoso, creative director at McCann since 2019, took over as head of advertising. In the digital area, Levi Olivares, at the service of the agency since 2018, was promoted to head of digital. “With a career dedicated to design and new technologies, Levi will lead a new business unit at the agency that brings together digital creativity, social media coordination and technology projects,” the agency said in a statement. Rodrigo Cardoso, Levi Olivares and Ricardo Diogo, who remains McCann’s head of design, report directly to the agency’s CEO, Luís Pereira Santos.

Contracts were also announced for this new phase. Leonardo Rua, who was at the Brazilian agencies AlmapBBDO and Talent Marcel and at the Portuguese agencies ComOn and FCB, Raphael Fiuza, who joined the Brazilian agencies Africa, NBS/Dentsu, McCann and Soko, and Tiago Fragoso, ex-Funny How and Lintas, arrived at McCann to reinforce the advertsing team. For the digital area, a new duo was hired, formed by art director Luís Catarino, ex-By, and copywriter Luís Perdigão, ex-Fullsix. Designer Mafalda Manaia also returned to the team. Sagres, Sovena Group, Banco Credibom, Pisca-Pisca, Lactogal, The Navigator Company and Opel are currently the agency’s biggest clients.

Meios & Publicidade (M&P): The reorganization of the creative structure follows the departure of Rita Salvado, who left the agency after seven years as chief creative officer. The three professionals who make up the new creative leadership structure have been part of the agency’s staff for several years. Is it, above all, a direction of continuity? Was it the need to respond to Rita Salvado’s departure that dictated the option for internal solutions or was this a transition that was already being prepared?
Luís Pereira Santos (LPS): I believe there was an astral alignment that combined our need to develop each area of ​​expertise in greater depth with Rita’s desire to focus on her academic interests. Even in a winning team, small movements are desirable for the team to remain winning. In addition, in Rodrigo’s case, he had already taken over on an interim basis for almost a year. In Levi’s case, there was already a clear demonstration of his digital know-how and we had already talked about how we should empower the digital team. Finally, Ricardo, as he says, already had this role and reported directly to me. With this particular team, and the three of them working brilliantly together, being constructive and collaborative, it was an easy decision. In a way, we replicated in advertising and digital the same model that we had in design and which works perfectly.

M&P: Do you find advantages in this model?
LPS: It is curious that we have been operating like this for six years, with the McCann Design business unit. This is how we grew exponentially in the weight of design, unlike in other countries, where McCann Worldgroup chose to have completely separate design companies without clear synergies, under the Future Brands banner. Earlier this month, McCann Worldgroup globally announced the creation of McCann Design. It certainly wasn’t because of the success of our model, but it only reinforces that this model is the correct one. Even with strategy or events our model is similar. We look at each area of ​​expertise as a business unit because each expertise generates value for customers, both when it is integrated into a multidisciplinary project and autonomously. Today we have strategy, design or event clients and others that mix several or all of our business units. We have a model that adapts to the specific or structural needs of customers.

M&P: In this model, the three professionals who head the creative structure report directly to you. The figure of the chief creative officer ceases to exist in the structure. Why this option? Did it no longer make sense to focus creative leadership on a single professional?
LPS: Yes it did. Marketing and communication today have a degree of complexity that has to be reflected in the agencies. We need to have specialized teams but, at the same time, to enhance multidisciplinarity in each project. We’re going to have three creative units, but the direction will work as a triple. I felt that, with this team, it was time to focus on the development of each expertise and not on the hierarchy. The added value lies in the creative and strategic depth rather than in the figure of the executive creative director. Does it get more complex? It seems, but in reality it is not. With these three working as a triplet, whenever it makes sense it is even simpler and, above all, more efficient. That’s what matters to us and to our customers. In an agency that has had some clients for over 100 years, it is important to refine the structures and expertise to be at the side, and simultaneously ahead, of the clients. This is why, for example, in the last Agency Scope by Scope study we were the second best creative agency when agencies are evaluated by their clients. In other words, those who work with us recognize and value our creative work and we want this to continue.

M&P: Will this new organization of the creative structure bring about changes in terms of working methods? In practice, what changes?
LPS: Brings small but fundamental changes. Levi and Inês França Martins, as responsible for the digital business unit, will be in all relevant briefs, adding a digital vision to any challenge, even if the client is only looking for an advertising or activation solution. In this way, we will end up offering more comprehensive creative solutions than ever before. Certainly with more focus and greater digital integration. I don’t believe in digital as a separate unit, but as a unit that needs to be integrated into all projects. We are doing the same with Claudia Arias, working on the development of CRM and marketing automation solutions, where there are also opportunities to do more and better. These are the main changes.

M&P: In the case of digital, which is now a business unit similar to McCann Design, you had a joint venture with The Hotel agency, of which you are also a partner. Does the creation of this unit mean the end of the partnership with The Hotel, which was mainly aimed at the digital area?
LPS: No, not at all. The partnership remains under the same terms under which it was operating. The Hotel, and Hélder Monteiro in particular, is a fundamental part of the materialization of projects of a more technological nature, if we can say so. Whether they are digital communication or not, as is the case with McDonald’s Digital Menu Boards. More than a creative partner, The Hotel has, in recent years, played a role of technical expertise.

M&P: How is the agency’s turnover distributed? How much do projects in the digital area represent and what are the objectives for this area?
LPS: It is increasingly difficult to individualize projects and, despite having business units, we look more at the cake as a whole than at the split between them. A very rough estimate will point to a total source of business where 10 percent comes from strategy, 40 percent from advertising, 20 percent from design, 20 percent from digital, including social media, and 10 percent from events and activations.

M&P: How has the agency’s turnover evolved over the last few years? According to data from the MediaMonitor rankings, at list prices, they ended the last year in 11th position, the same position they are currently in, considering the first half of 2022. Is the top 10 a goal?
LPS: The agency has been growing uninterruptedly since 2016, and today it generates a revenue 75 percent above what it generated in 2010. The last two years have been very particular, as a result of the covid-19 and now the war. Still, they were the best bottom line years of the last two decades. The point is that we saw this and the conquest of Sagres as an opportunity to strengthen teams and improve our creative output. That’s what I’m sure will happen this year and certainly in 2023. I already feel that creative energy when we receive a brief or when we generate ideas based on our knowledge of the clients’ business. That said, MediaMonitor is what it is. A limited portrait of our communication landscape. There are agencies in the top 10 that I don’t even know what they do. There are agencies that, even before being in the top 10, were already very relevant in the market. The truth is that only 40 or 50 percent of our revenue counts for this championship. We are an agency bigger than the ranking and we will continue in that direction.

The interview with Luís Pereira Santos can be read in full in the print edition of M&P

Source: Meios & Publicidade by www.meiosepublicidade.pt.

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