Cabaco, 43, is a well-traveled do-it-all art director with a background in industrial design and publishing, serving in a creative capacity in over a half-dozen agencies in Portugal before co-founding his own shop, Home, in Lisbon in 2002. After that, he spent time at W+K Amsterdam. Most recently, he's worked on Nike Europe and Latin America as well as Electronic Arts out of the Portland office.
We tracked down Cabaco in Portland to ask him a few questions about his next big gig.
Did you work with Esther at Wieden?
No, but I always heard good things about her, about her being a great client. I got introduced to her through the work, which is great. She was behind amazing stuff: an amazing pitch win for Wieden and the amazing work that came out of it. This was something I paid attention to and decided to go for it because of her being involved.
How did the process begin? When did you hear about the position?
About two months ago we had the first meetings. It's been a long process, moving forward to the next round, meeting more and more people in the network, and finally coming to a place where I was the one she wanted to partner with and we made it happen. It's kind of a painfully exciting thing, because of everything Dan Wieden has done for me, from meeting me in Cannes and inviting me to join his network, first in Amsterdam and then bringing me to Portland. I thought that I would never work for another advertising agency again after Wieden; I thought Wieden was a closure of life in this business, but I guess I was wrong. I'm about to start something that's probably the biggest challenge I was ever presented, but that's the exciting part. The painful is leaving Wieden behind. But I'm sure we're all going to be great and it's going to be interesting.
Go back to biggest challenge—creative director at Wieden is a big job, but North American chief creative officer is an even bigger one. How do you approach that?
Just go for it, be the way you are, that's the only way you can do things. Always being true to who you are and hoping for the best. Hopefully I'm going to discover a lot of talent there, that it's been kind of hidden, hopefully, and reenergize the agency. There's a reason why I think the challenge is huge is because it's not just an office, it's the entire network to turn around. You obviously start somewhere so it's the New York office, being the flagship in the U.S., it should be the starting point, but it has to go beyond there.
Esther was quick to point to your varied background—you haven't done just ads; what does it say about Euro that they're looking at these things?
We're living in a moment that is probably comparable, in a much larger scale, to what the renaissance was a long time ago. I think this is a turning point in how to live in this planet; it's going to change dramatically. It's changed a lot, the impact in the speed of the change is huge; we've been investing in making every individual on this planet able to express, communicate in an unprecedented way. This is probably the most collaborative moment ever on this planet, somehow. You have access to information like never before; you can be an individual like never before. So what I tried to always do was live up to that diversity, apply my talent or curiosity in different areas and discover a lot of interesting things in the process. For this business, that couldn't be better. This isn't a business of TV ads, print campaigns, billboards anymore. It's 200 different things and places and media and opportunities to engage in a conversation with consumers. The more diverse the spectrum of the company the better you communicate.