Mr. Guanaes was expected to open a new shop called Bossa Nova in Sao Paulo when his two-year non-compete agreement with DDB ends this month. Instead, he said he is returning to DM9 DDB Publicidade as "partner and to lead the company." He is re-acquiring the 40% stake in the agency that DDB bought two years ago after first investing in DM9 in 1997.
Mr. Guanaes broke the news to his former staff by simply turning up at the agency and greeting them.
Shop struggled after departure
DM9 DDB, Brazil's sixth-largest agency with 2000 billings of $279 million, was hit hard by his departure, losing clients and creative executives. Although the agency was recovering and doing well under the creative leadership of Creative Director Erh Ray, the emergence of Mr. Guanaes, a magnet for clients, with his own rival agency would have been another blow.
In a statement, Mr. Guanaes said, "DDB is the majority shareholder. I am the commanding shareholder."
New holding company
His new stake in the agency is the launching pad for a Brazilian agency holding company. In his statement, Mr. Guanaes explained that DM9 is the first agency in NGI, a holding company whose partners include himself and local bank Icatu, which backed the original DM9 agency he launched in 1989.
At the end of April, the agency he intended to call Bossa Nova will open, although that name is currently owned by another company. In January 2003, he plans to start an agency based in Brazil's capital, Brasilia, with expertise in political marketing. Omnicom will not play a role in NGI.
He likened NGI to Omnicom and Prax, a home-grown holding company started by Brazilian adman Washington Olivetto, who has added other agencies such as Registrada and Lew Lara to his main agency W/Brasil under the Prax umbrella.
Mr. Guanaes' interests have always extended beyond advertising. He is intensely interested in politics and took a leave of absence in 1998 to mastermind the massive re-election campaign of Brazil's president, Fernando Enrique Cardoso. When the Internet boom arrived in Brazil, Mr. Guanaes invested in and soon left DM9 DDB to run an Internet portal called IG. Through clever advertising, IG became one of Brazil's leading Internet brands.
The Brazilian ad industry has missed Mr. Guanaes, whose immense creative talent meshed perfectly with the way Brazilian advertising resonates with its popular culture.
When Nestle products filled Brazilian kitchens, Mr. Guanaes made Parmalat a household name. He created an enchanting ad campaign for the milk brand featuring children dressed in costumes of different mammals, such as bears and lions. When Parmalat began offering stuffed animals based on the campaign as an advertising promotion, a delivery truck full of the coveted dolls was hijacked.
And Mr. Guanaes appears to be just as eager to return to the advertising community he was apart from for two years: "This profession is my calling, my north and my destiny. And there's no escaping from destiny."