Ad Age: How has the recession affected creativity?
Ms. Romano: I suppose we can say positively. And not from an advertising creative's point of view. I think the recession made a lot of people rethink consumerism, generated a sense of depression in the air and forced everyone to reassess their lives. To me, that's quite good. If there wasn't a recession, "Slumdog Millionaire" wouldn't have been best film. Clients wouldn't be asking us to add some happiness to the messaging, and supermarkets might not have moved so fast in taking away plastic bags. All of it makes for an interesting context I think. As for creativity in advertising, I reckon the recession will impact it more strongly next year. This year companies were working with budgets they put together last year and some even the year before last. Yes, it's true many people lost their jobs, clients are reviewing their numbers and agencies are also rethinking their models but, in some ways, that seems to allow for better creative -- even if "cheaper."
Ad Age: What work (that you're not affiliated with) has most impressed you in the past year or so? Don't say Apple.
Ms. Romano: I just can't help drooling over Crispin's work for Burger King. I wish I were more original. To me, their highlight this year was the "Whopper Sacrifice." Take Facebook and all it stands for and twist it, because you can. But what amazed me the most was Barack Obama's campaign for president in the U.S. It was intelligent, inspiring, well done and not cool. It wasn't a campaign for president; it was pop culture. Yes, it's politics. Yes, the recession might even have helped him (one more point for the recession, then), because romanticism, hopes, idealism was up. You see, Brazil has a strong marketing and communications machine for political advertising. Some of the best minds in the industry at one time or another have been involved in a campaign for someone seeking an executive position, for a public service or organization, and I have never seen anything like it. Obama's campaign materials, in my humble opinion, will become historic material just as that "Uncle Sam wants you" poster. I wouldn't be surprised (if they entered it) if it won big time in PR and viral.
Ad Age: In terms of creativity, what region or country or city are you most impressed with and why?
Ms. Romano: Since two years ago I have fallen for Asia. And last year it was a feast for me. There is fantastic work coming from Asia, and I suppose the reason I am fascinated by it is that it just reminds me that I am so ignorant. There is so much still to learn. On one hand we have Japan, kicking everyone's behinds with their beautiful work for Uniqlo last year and this year, but the most interesting I have seen from them thus far is the work for Sagami condoms, "Love Distance."
The work from Japan is impeccable in design and surprisingly emotional. At the same time, they are so far ahead in technology at the service of communication that it is almost depressing to me to not live in Tokyo right now. On the other hand we have the work from India -- so full of positivity, of passion. I haven't seen a lot of work from them this year, but they set my expectations really high. Of course, there is fantastic work coming from China, Malaysia, Singapore. So, Asia it is, the region I am currently amazed with.
Ad Age: Which campaign should clean up at Cannes this year?
Ms. Romano: Tough, tough question. I think Burger King will be a huge winner again.
Ad Age: In an era of GPS and microtargeting, what's the future of the global campaign?
Ms. Romano: I think the future of global campaigns is not much different from its present in terms of what we do. The thing is most of us have no idea what we are doing, because we are in the eye of the storm and we just can't help ourselves -- we haven't much perspective. The more a brand is global, the more anything done for it travels. And not because we force it, because consumers find it. They seek what they are interested in, and true global brands are brands consumers are interested in, brands that are pop. So we may think what we did was an ad for France, but what we did was an ad that someone in France put on their YouTube and their friend in Japan remixed and maybe everyone really liked it. We may think what we did was a website for internet fans of Lego in the States, but what we really did was offend Maoris in New Zealand.
In the (near, very near) future we will understand it better. A concept can be global. An execution attempts to be. If before we translated or subtitled stuff to help it travel, in the current day and age, the consumers do it for us. Only they do it their way: by mashing, by linking, by changing, by friending and "favoriting" what we do.
Now, at the same time, we will have more and more need to cater to these individuals who know we know who they are. If you have a GPS and if you know "they" can microtarget, you are really offended when something not of your interest is put in front of you just because some CMO in Atlanta, Manchester, Vevey or Beijing thought it was cool. For me the future is creative media and strategy -- and a lot of connected time to try and make some sense of what's happening around us.