U.S. Hispanic shop Wing is breaking with tradition and naming a female, Brazilian creative from Sao Paulo as the agency's new chief creative officer. Renata Florio, who was most recently executive creative director at Peralta StrawberryFrog in Sao Paulo, moved to the U.S. this week to start her new job at Wing after almost 20 years at some of Brazil's most creative ad agencies.
Wing, owned by WPP Group's Grey Worldwide, is ranked by Ad Age as the 20th largest U.S. Hispanic ad agency.
In the U.S. Hispanic market, creative directors are most often from Mexico or Argentina, and are rarely from Portuguese-speaking Brazil (one exception is Laurence Klinger, EVP and chief creative officer at Leo Burnett's Hispanic agency Lapiz). And only a handful of creative directors are women.
Ms. Florio, 45, said she started her career as a Portuguese teacher and, finding herself teaching writing to aspiring copywriters, decided to try copywriting herself. She was a copywriter at F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi and Almap BBDO, and executive creative director until last year at DM9 DDB -- three of Brazil's most creative ad agencies.
Alain Groenendaal, Wing's president-CEO, said he worked with a headhunter to review a long list of candidates from the U.S., Latin America, Spain and even London, and kept coming back to Ms. Florio.
"She's won all the awards [but] she's a very pragmatic leader," he said.
Ms. Florio has picked up eight Cannes Lions trophies for her work in Brazil, and has experience working for marketers such as Procter & Gamble -- a major Wing client -- and Spain's Telefonica on a regional basis in Latin America as well as in Brazil.
"I called it the United Nations of Telefonica," Ms. Florio said of a campaign for the Spanish telecom company that required her to manage a creative team from all over Latin America gathered in Brazil, a shoot in Argentina and a production company from Spain.
Her experience is a good fit for Wing, where Mr. Groenendaal said the 60-person agency's business is about 45% U.S. Hispanic, 20% general market (including general-market work for Goya Foods), and 35% work with Latin America.
Brazilian creatives tend to be less likely to venture out of their own market than Argentines, who come from a relatively small country and have become adept at snagging regional assignments for Latin America and top creative jobs at U.S. Hispanic agencies. By contrast, Brazilians speak a different language, have a huge domestic market, and thrive in a fast-moving highly creative country where the best ads quickly become part of the popular culture. Creatives in Brazil are also extremely well paid, thanks to a uniquely structured local ad industry in which all media specialist agencies are banned and ad agencies handle media as well as creative, on full commission. The healthy profits let agencies invest heavily in the creative product.
As a nation, Brazilians enter more work at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity than any other country except the U.S. Ms. Florio's Gold Lions include awards for FedEx, Kiss FM radio, Latinstock photos, and a six-page print ad for Cepacol dental floss in which the floss wrestles a huge piece of meat through the crack in the center of a glossy white double page spread.
Mr. Groenendaal joined New York-based Wing three years ago from La Comunidad and has revamped much of the agency, hiring top planner Andrew Speyer last year as head of strategy. Only about 40% of Wing's business is aligned with parent Grey, and Mr. Groenendaal said he expects revenue to be up by about 20% this year. As well as adding more of a creative face to the agency, Ms. Florio's past experience includes Brazilian agencies that are relentless pursuers of new business.
Ms. Florio succeeds Gustavo Asman, who is leaving Wing after five years.