Move Over, Argentina: Brazil's First Awards Show

Wave Festival Is Rio's Answer to Buenos Aires, Cannes

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AdAge.com) -- In awards-obsessed Latin America, the organizers of this week's Wave Festival are betting there is room for one more regional advertising festival, the first in Brazil.
Guto Cappio, a partner at Sao Paulo direct marketing agency Sunset Comunicacao, won the Grand Prix for direct marketing at the Wave festival.
Guto Cappio, a partner at Sao Paulo direct marketing agency Sunset Comunicacao, won the Grand Prix for direct marketing at the Wave festival.

There are already two rival festivals based in Buenos Aires, Argentina -- FIAP in April and El Ojo in October -- and a third, El Sol, that takes place in San Sebastian, Spain, May 29-31 but draws more than a third of its entries from Latin America.

Glamorous, seductive ambience
The Wave Festival went for a glamorous, seductive ambience its organizers hope will become as powerful a lure as the south of France is for the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. The Wave's permanent venue is the beachfront Copacabana Palace Hotel, a Rio de Janeiro icon.

Attendees said they liked the indigenous Latin American feel of the festival compared with the Argentine-dominated shows in Buenos Aires, Latin America's most European city, but would like to see more top creatives at the Wave and more entries from Argentina.

The awards drew 1,391 entries in seven categories and 552 delegates, said Jose Carlos Sales Netto, president of the Wave Festival's organizer, Grupo M&M, publisher of Brazil's leading advertising trade publication, Meio & Mensagem. Advertising Age is a sponsor of the festival.

"I think in five years, the Wave will be huge," said Rodrigo Figueroa Reyes, head of Fire Advertainment, a Buenos Aires-based branded-entertainment company.

Could it affect FIAP?
If it's a hit, the Wave may have the greatest impact on the region's biggest festival, FIAP, held this year barely a month earlier, April 14-18. FIAP was plagued last year with massive technical problems with both entering and judging work that infuriated participants, and judges said there were glitches this year, too. FIAP executives could not immediately be reached for comment.

During the Wave's three days of awards shows and speeches May 19-21, Brazil won the most prizes, and the Agency of the Year trophy went to Almap BBDO, Sao Paulo. But Mexico's Grupo W picked up a cyber Grand Prix for Unilever's Rexona, and Argentina took home the outdoor Grand Prix for a Red Cross ad.
Jose Carlos Salles Neto (left), president of Wave festival organizer Grupo M&M, with Donald Gunn, founder of the Gunn Report, at the festival.
Jose Carlos Salles Neto (left), president of Wave festival organizer Grupo M&M, with Donald Gunn, founder of the Gunn Report, at the festival.

In a presentation at Wave on ad festivals, Donald Gunn, creator of the Gunn Report, which ranks agencies by prizes won at awards shows, said the U.K.'s Shots magazine lists a directory of 128 ad festivals, "and they've missed a lot."

Other new festivals
Another festival that's new this year is the Cup, created by four regional festivals from Latin America, Europe and Asia and held in Valencia, Spain. Unlike most awards shows, Mr. Gunn said, the Cup has product and craft categories, such as cars, that aren't divided by medium.

Attendance at India's 3-year-old GoaFest is already second-highest after the Cannes Lions because India's ad agencies pay to send up to 1,000 young creatives under 30 to the festival, Mr. Gunn said. (Held in a tented, temporary village on the beach, GoaFest includes a Water Dance, held every morning, when attendees dance through sprinklers.)

"It makes sense one of the important festivals for Latin America should be based in Brazil, and [the Copacabana Palace is] a magic venue," Mr. Gunn said. "As new, good festivals like the Wave and the Cup come along, maybe some of the flakier festivals will call it a day."
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