Washington Olivetto founded W/Brasil Publicidade in 1986 in partnership with the Swiss group GGK under the name W/GGK. In 1988, Mr. Olivetto bought out his Swiss partners and, with Gabriel Zellmeister and Javier Lluss Ciuret as new partners, renamed the shop W/Brasil.
From the start, the São Paulo agency made a point of using modern, Brazilian styles and images. Indeed, W/Brasil viewed itself as an agency that creates "pop advertising." One of its core tenets is the belief that its campaigns compete for space in the media and in consumers' minds not only with other advertising campaigns, but also with news, popular songs, hit films and the soap operas Brazilians adore. Notable W/Brasil ad campaign characters include Folha de São Paulo's mouse, Cofap's Spare Parts' dachshund and the Bombril Boy.
W/Brasil describes itself as "a totally independent company working exclusively for private companies." The agency does not accept work for the government or for political candidates. Practically since its inception, W/Brasil has ranked among the five largest ad agencies in Brazil in billings.
W/Brasil's large local clients include Unibanco, Sadia, Grendene, Folha de São Paulo and Chocolates Garoto. But it also handles significant international accounts such as Mercedes-Benz, Bombril/Henkel and AIG Insurance.
In 1996, W/Brasil decided it preferred to maintain its independence rather than link up with a multinational group, but it also wanted to grow. The partners formed Prax Holding Ltda. to oversee a trio of successful ad agencies, Propaganda Registrada, Guimares Profissionais and Lew, Lara. It also owns Thimus, a strategic-planning firm; Made in Brasil, a design agency; Pop Com, an Internet agency; and Parra e Associados, a promotional agency.
In December 2001, Mr. Olivetto was kidnapped in São Paulo, taken from his car while on his way to the office. After 53 days in captivity, he was released unharmed and has since gone back to work for the agency.