Winning ideas: Creative highlights from U.S. Hispanic agencies

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U.S. Hispanic agencies this year didn't reach the highs of 2017, when they achieved record wins at the Cannes Lions–20 honors at seven different shops, compared to 2018's eight.

And while U.S. shops Alma and We Believers last year were named the second and third most-awarded shops at the Wave Festival in Brazil, U.S. agencies didn't hit the top five in 2018.

"When it comes to award shows, every year is an anomaly," says Ciro Sarmiento, chief creative officer of Omnicom Group's Dieste in Dallas and president of Circulo Creativo, the non-profit ad organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. Hispanic creative community.

The Publicis Groupe awards pullout had repercussions on entries submitted to Circulo's U.S.H. Idea Awards to celebrate the best ideas from U.S. Hispanic agencies. But overall, other factors were at play.

"This year, I think the Hispanic market had more executions and fewer big ideas," Sarmiento says. "Yet if you think of the Hispanic market five years ago, it was inconceivable to win six Lions in a year. Some years we might win two, others eight, but in the end, it's about being there. Being part of the race is more important than breaking a record."

While hardware wasn't as abundant in 2018, the compelling creative ideas were aplenty, whether they leveraged the strength and increasingly broader influence of Latino culture, spoke to a general audience or played off big events–namely, this year's World Cup.

Here's a look at some of the most-awarded and other notable U.S. Hispanic creative work from the past year.

Johnnie Walker, "This Land Is Your Land"


At Circulo Creativo's U.S.H. Idea Awards last fall, Best of Show went to MDC Partners' Anomaly, which brought a welcome evolution to Johnnie Walker's long-running "Keep Walking" story with a new campaign that targeted Hispanics but yet felt contemporary and universal.

The campaign included a spot and music video in which L.A.-based band Chicano Batman roam the streets and bars of the city while frontman Bardo Martinez delivered a new take on the Woody Guthrie classic, "This Land Is Your Land," featuring both English and Spanish lyrics.

The spot ended with the line, "Here's to moving forward together." Not coincidentally, Johnnie Walker debuted the campaign on inauguration day.

Coca-Cola, "Share a Coke"


At this year's Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, U.S. Hispanic shops earned a total of eight Lions distributed among three agencies: Interpublic Group of Cos.' Casanova//McCann, We Believers and Omnicom's Alma.

Casanova topped this year with six Lions, thanks to wins for the Coca-Cola "Share a Coke" campaign that yielded more than 1,000 personalized tunes featuring different names.

While the idea was conceived out of sibling shop Fitzco, Casanova was behind the Spanish-language executions in the campaign. Casanova also earned multiple honors for the campaign at this year's Wave Festival in Brazil.

Tobacco-Free Florida, "The Reasons"; "Hit Song"


After nabbing 10 Lions last year for its Netflix work, in 2018 Alma snatched a Bronze Lion and Wave Festival Film Craft honor for a moving, empathetic general market anti-smoking campaign.

The campaign features intimate documentary-style portraits of smokers in a rural town in Florida, where smoking rates are 33 percent higher than the rest of the state. While many of the subjects live paycheck-to-paycheck, they spend thousands of dollars yearly on cigarettes, their catharsis from the grind and stresses of everyday life.

The agency also earned multiple Wave honors for its radio ad "Hit Song," for which it created a seemingly autotuned track that was actually sung by a man using an electronic larynx, due to a laryngectomy he underwent as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Saltwater Brewery, "Edible Six-Pack Rings"

We Believers

In 2016, We Believers earned four Cannes Lions for this environmentally conscious packaging idea for Saltwater Brewery–six-pack can holders made of wheat and barley that could help feed wildlife in the oceans, not strangle them. This year, the idea went on to win a Silver creative effectiveness Lion at the festival, which honors ideas that had a real impact on business or drove cultural change.

Burger King and Pepsi, "Unprejudiced"

We Believers

In a project for both Burger King and Pepsi, We Believers conducted a special "experiment" among super fans of their competition: McDonald's and Coca-Cola. The agency tapped a hypnotist to clear them of all "prejudices" so that they could offer their thoughts on BK and Pepsi without bias, and while under, they gave positive reviews.

The video of the event was shared online, inspiring doubters aplenty, so the agency took the stunt one step further and invited nearly 400 more skeptics to be hypnotized themselves; 89 percent of them ended up giving the thumbs up to the food they previously said they hated. The work earned three Wave honors this year.

Unidos por Puerto Rico, "Marias vs. Maria"

The Community

The Community, Ad Age's Multicultural Agency of the Year, created this campaign that aimed to leverage the power of the many people in the world named Maria–six million in the U.S. alone–to raise funds and bring relief to Puerto Rico, ravaged by their namesake hurricane.

The effort wanted to turn "the name Maria into a synonym of generosity, instead of tragedy," according to the dedicated site. All proceeds went to Unidos por Puerto Rico, an initiative from the territory's first lady, Beatriz Rosselló. The effort by the Publicis-owned agency earned multiple honors at the Wave Festival.

Toyota, "Tundra Power World Cup Coffee"


There was plenty of marketing around the World Cup this year. While Dieste's Sarmiento observed that much of the work still featured typical images of "happy families with faces painted in national flag colors, people with soccer balls and everyone using the word 'passion,'" the event was an opportunity for some to flex their creative muscles.

Since the big tournament was in Russia, many U.S. and Latin American fans were forced to enjoy their games over breakfast, not beer. Agencies played off the time difference with some bright ideas.

This one, from Publicis-owned Conill, was meant to be literally eye-opening. The agency created its own extra-strong coffee designed to help wake viewers up (while promoting Toyota's Tundra pickup).

The shop sourced the brew from Mexico and created a video showing the Tundra traveling through the Chiapas to pick up the beans. The effort also included a Tundra Mobile Coffee Shop that parked near venues broadcasting the tournament.

Sangre de Malta, "Too Early"


Sarmiento's agency, Dieste, played off the World Cup time zone difference to help Mexican beer brand Sangre de Malta deliver a humorous responsible-drinking ad. It opens by announcing the brew's name boldly, set against indulgent shots of foam in steins as a room full of World Cup watchers go wild over a game.

As they clink their mugs and liquid flows over, they ultimately cringe in pain as it lands on their fingertips. "Watch the Cup…with a cup of coffee," the copy reads.

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