U.S. Hispanic Shops Are Big Winners at Wave Festival for Latin America in Rio

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U.S. agencies Alma and We Believers were the second and third most-awarded agencies at the Wave Festival for Latin America held last week in Rio de Janeiro. (The perennial No. 1 is Brazilian shop Almap BBDO).

That's the best performance yet at the Wave for the U.S. Hispanic market, and includes a Grand Prix in the Design category for We Believers' "Edible Six-Pack Rings" work that won four Lions at the last Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The agency re-thought the plastic rings that hold together six-packs of beer and are often discarded in the ocean where they harm wildlife, by making them biodegradable and safe to eat. (The Wave Festival is organized by Ad Age's partner in Brazil, Grupo Meio e Mensagem).

Besides the Grand Prix, "Edible Six-Pack Rings" picked up two gold awards in the Promo category and two bronze awards in PR and the environmentally-friendly Green Wave category.

Three-year-old New York agency We Believers also scored with "Rejected," an offbeat video created for PepsiCo and Burger King, featuring personable but not glamorous actors who were rejected at a casting call for rival cola and fast food brands but are welcomed by Pepsi and Burger King. The message is "Why would you choose a brand that wouldn't choose you?"

After We Believers' success on the awards circuit in the past year, the agency's co-founder and chief creative officer, Gustavo Lauria, has been named to the Titanium jury at this year's Cannes Lions festival. (Mr. Lauria was also named one of the Creativity 50 in December).

The big crowd pleaser from Miami-based Alma, the Wave festival's second biggest winner, was a social media effort for Netflix series "Narcos." To promote season two, the agency came up with Spanish lessons, from drug lord Pablo Escobar. During the show's filming, a separate Alma crew shot footage in which the lead actors taught their most used expressions, starting with "Coma mierda." "Spanish Lessons" won four gold awards, in Cyber, Branded Content, PR and Promo, as well as a silver Promo and a bronze Film award.

Alma created another social media furor with "Episode Leak," when the agency pretended the season opener of "Narcos" had been leaked online. That campaign also won a gold in Branded Content, plus a bronze in the Cyber category.

One of Alma's strengths is that it does award-worthy work for multiple clients. The agency also won silver awards in Direct and Outdoor, and a bronze in Direct, for Sprint with "The Last Emoji." To put Sprint in the forefront of responsible texting during Distracted Driver Awareness month, the agency hired a sculptor to fashion an emoji from a real crashed car, and displayed it outdoors in Miami next to the message "DN'T TXT & DRIVE."

For Clorox-owned quick-light charcoal Kingsford, Alma created bronze-winning "Predators," in which traditional predators like a cobra and an eagle are vanquished by a lit match and turned into charred creatures.

In Cyber, the Wave judges gave a silver to "Help Kenya, Not Kanye," created by an Alma senior copywriter annoyed at Kanye West's Twitter rant asking for money and disparaging donations to build schools in Africa. That inspired the #HelpKenyaNotKanye site, encouraging fans to donate to more worthy causes.

Miami-based The Community won two gold awards in Outdoor and one in the Press category for a whimsical campaign for Buenos Aires' increasingly successful city bike program that cautions the growing number of cyclists not to behave like heedless pedestrians when they're on wheels. The agency was also awarded a gold prize in Branded Content and a bronze in Film for its #LoQueSoy (#WhoIAm) work for Converse that takes a sympathetic look at artists, musicians and filmmakers who do boring day jobs in order to pursue their art – and offers them some help from Converse. Work for another client, Verizon, won the agency a bronze in Branded Content.

Gallegos United won gold and bronze awards in Film for Comcast Xfinity spots. The gold winner, "One Man Band," promotes a free two-week pass to catch up on TV series and films with a man decked out in noisy musical instruments who prevents two office workers from sharing spoilers.

LatinWorks won a silver in Branded Content for Major League Baseball's "Ponle Acento" ("Put on the Accent"). Recognizing that 27% of the league's players are Hispanic, and that correct spelling of many of their names calls for accents and tildes, LatinWorks added an accent to the MLB logo, and to players' names on the back of their jerseys.

Grey's U.S. Hispanic agency, New York-based Wing, won silver Press and Outdoor awards for ads that juxtapose an infamous Donald Trump quote vilifying Mexicans with an image of American tourists behaving foolishly while on vacation in Mexico. The message, in support of #Improudtobemexican: "We don't judge you when you are in Mexico. Don't judge us."

Los Angeles-based Conill, Saatchi & Saatchi's Hispanic shop, is known for its innovative work for Toyota Motor Sales USA. In "Hijacked Banner," a silver winner in the Press category, Conill tracked the products people searched on the Bass Pro Shop site, and then served those users ads that showed how well the product they were looking at – tents, kayaks, canoes – fit in the back of a Toyota Tacoma truck. Conill also won a bronze in Radio for Argentina New Cinema, a festival Conill does fun ads for every year.

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