A week after Joanna Monteiro won the Mobile Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival this year, she and colleague Max Geraldo were promoted from exec creative directors to creative VPs at FCB Brazil, less than two years after joining the agency and restructuring it into a creative powerhouse. The Grand Prix was for Nivea's "Protection Ad" for sunblock -- a magazine ad containing a humidity-resistant strip that turned into a bracelet with a downloadable app that could keep children from straying at the beach. That wasn't the first successful step in building Nivea into the brand that looks after you all day at the beach. Last year, the team developed "Solar Ad Charger," a magazine ad that juices up your phone using the sun.
"Giving the client something useful is easy," Ms. Monteiro said. "What really is challenging is building a brand at the same time."
Ms. Monteiro, who was an honoree at Ad Age's Women to Watch Brazil this year, had another hit for language school CNA -- a conversation exchange that allowed students in Brazil to practice their English over the internet with senior citizens in North America who were happy to have someone to chat with.
Where did the idea for Nivea's "Protection Ad" come from, and what challenges did you have to overcome?
Ms. Monteiro: The Nivea idea came from three men, none of whom are fathers yet. But when they brought the idea to Max and me, we loved it right away. We both have kids, and for us it was clear that, if we made the idea happen, it would be powerful. Because it would fulfill the desire of any father or mother to give their children more protection. And protection is exactly the core business of Nivea Sun Kids. There were many challenges: choose the right technology, find waterproof paper that could be used for printing, keep the bracelet on the arm, and more.
The president of the Mobile Jury in Cannes [said] the work won the Grand Prix because it combined the right media, gave the consumer something relevant in the right place to be used, while transmitting perfectly the brand's message.
Agencies often do stunts that get a lot of attention but have little lasting impact. CNA's Speaking Exchange sounds like a very different kind of project that people hear about and want to join. How is it continuing to grow, and build the CNA brand?
Ms. Monteiro: Speaking Exchange is one of those rare ideas that's a total win-win. More than an advertising idea, it's a product that promotes the brand. It's a result of CNA's teaching philosophy, based on practicing English. Speaking Exchange is already in four schools and next year we hope it'll be in 15 more in Brazil. It makes us very happy because students ask to have the Speaking Exchange at their school, and senior citizens in the U.S. and Canada sign up to participate.
What's your definition of creativity?
Ms. Monteiro: In advertising, creativity is thinking in a way that's new, but that everyone recognizes. It's an idea you hadn't seen before and you love it when you see it. It's the chance to differentiate ourselves in a commoditized, competitive market.
How would you advise someone to get out of a creative rut?
Ms. Monteiro: Travel anywhere. You can't help coming back with a more open mind.
There are still not many female creative heads at your level. Do you see that changing?
Ms. Monteiro: In the old days, to be competitive at an agency you had to pull an all-nighter, you had no weekends, you had no life. This has become outdated. Everyone has become more professional. Hand in good work and manage your time. Today, in every team, men also want to pick up their children at school, and have dinner at home. Nowadays, the working model is more interesting for women. And it needs to be.