In a stellar debut performance at the Wave Festival for Latin America this week, six U.S. Hispanic agencies captured 19 awards in Rio de Janeiro.
In one of the most popular campaigns at the festival, Omnicom-backed Alma's "Adios Cliches, Hola Mexico" work for a Mexican film festival in Los Angeles captivated two juries. As the U.S. Hispanic market participated in the 6-year-old Wave for the first time, the Alma campaign picked up two gold and one silver awards in the film category, and one gold and two silver awards in the promo category.
Another U.S. Hispanic shop, La Comunidad, won two golds for Volvo and one for Converse.
In "Adios Cliches, Hola Mexico," Alma created the most cliched character imaginable -- a pistol-wielding desperado with a big moustache who kills off other clichéd Mexican figures including a wrestler, a little Chihuahua and a Frida Kahlo lookalike. Part of the fun is that the two ends of his handlebar moustache each grasp and shoot a pistol.
The campaign -- including TV, radio, posters, a website and a phone app that lets users add a moustache to their own photos -- was so successful that the Mexican film festival in May 2012 not only sold out, but the young entrepreneur who created the event is now working with Alma to expand it beyond films to include Mexican food, tequilas and art.
Entries at the Wave Festival for Latin America, organized by Ad Age's editorial partner in Brazil Meio & Mensagem with support from Ad Age, totaled 1,903 this year.
Another big winner, La Comunidad, picked up gold awards in cyber and outdoor for "Volvo Soul," the independent Hispanic shop's "Volvo in Every Car" app launched at 2012 international auto shows that lets users zap the badges of rival car brands to see all the Volvo-created technology inside other cars. (The acclaimed Volvo work was one of the reasons La Comunidad was a winner at Ad Age's Small Agency Awards last year, and named to Ad Age's Agency A-List in January 2013.)
La Comunidad won a third gold for a Converse outdoor campaign called "Converse Highways." The premise is that highways criss-cross every country, and symbolize progress in Latin America. But the spaces underneath were desolate and deserted -- until Converse transformed them into colorful places for live events, from bands to underground art galleries.
In the radio category, U.S. Hispanic agency LatinWorks won a silver award for Austin's Latin American film festival Cine Las Americas, a perennial awards show favorite with its theme of showing examples of real-life craziness around the region. Radio and TV spots always end with the phrase "If this is our reality, imagine our films."
This year's radio campaign breaks down speeches by Latin American leaders, including Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, and newly elected Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, into pieces to focus on a single word that reveals the craziest of notions. The focus on one word promotes the growing entry of short films in the festival.
In a film bronze winner for Cine Las Americas called "Ladron" ("Thief"), LatinWorks stages a re-enactment of a thief robbing a pharmacy. He flees and discovers his car has been stolen, and then he is mugged. He dutifully goes to the police station to file a report, runs into the pharmacy owner he just robbed, and is promptly arrested. This really happened in Brazil last year, and is a natural segue into LatinWorks' familiar "If this is our reality…" tagline. The agency also picked up a film bronze for Wrigley's Skittles "Mentor."
Saatchi & Saatchi's Hispanic agency Conill's innovative "Bellies in Concert" idea of helping Hispanics pass their heritage on to their children by holding a concert -- presented by Procter & Gamble's Pampers -- in which pregnant women held headphones to their bellies, won a bronze award. Conill was also awarded a cyber silver for keeping track of praise by clients and converting it into charity donations in "Good Jar." In a banner year for campaigns promoting film festivals, Conill picked up a silver film award for "Miss a second, miss a lot" for the Miami Short Film Festival and a bronze for the Argentina New Cinema Film Festival's "Remakes."
Independent Vidal Partnership won a cyber silver for "Keep It Legendary," in which Heineken provided soccer fans a social-media blocker that hid real-time scores in a soccer championship played on an earlier time zone until they could watch the games with friends and beer.
Independent Grupo Gallegos won a film bronze for "Battle," a whimsical tale of a fantastical battle in the sky that turns out to be the dream of a small boy who slumbered deeply after drinking a glass full of milk before bedtime. The client, of course, was the California Milk Processor Board.
This year the Wave gave four Grand Prix awards. Three went to Brazilian agencies and one, for outdoor, to Colombia's Lowe SSP3 for the stunning "Rivers of Light" campaign aimed at helping the Colombian government persuade armed guerrilla fighters to demobilize. That campaign was a big reason Ad Age named the Colombian shop its International Agency of the Year in January 2013.
In the direct category, Unilever's Hellman's and Ogilvy Brazil's "Recipe Recip" came up with a novel way to encourage consumers to use more mayonnaise. Special software was installed at supermarket cash registers that not only recognized when consumers bought Hellmann's but clocked the other items they were buying, and came up with recipes that combined several ingredients, printing them out on the till receipt.
"What could be more direct than that?" said Luis Miguel Messianu, president of the direct jury and chief creative officer of Alma. He said the agency took a commodity product in a low-interest category and "captures your attention at a perfect moment [at the checkout]. And it's such a contemporary way of combining technology and a marketing solution. I think this is going to become the norm."
Ogilvy Brazil also won the press Grand Prix for a Forbes magazine campaign, and In Press Porter Novelli picked up the public relations Grand Prix with a project highlighting Nissan's sponsorship of 30 Olympic athletes.
Another Brazilian agency, Almap BBDO, was named the festival's Agency of the Year for the fifth straight year.