Nonprofit Creative Collective Drops Powerful Video Ahead of Cannes to Highlight Brazil’s Diversity Problem

Only 35 out of every 1,000 agency employees are black

"Meu Melhor Defeito" ("My Best Flaw") calls on Brazil to be more inclusive. Papel & Caneta
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Every country has to do better in their efforts to elevate diversity in advertising—and the U.S. is certainly far from perfect. But Brazil has a particularly big problem when it comes to inclusion. That’s why one nonprofit creative collective is calling its nation out ahead of next week’s 2018 Cannes Lions Festival, when top marketers from around the world will be spotlighted in Cannes, France.

Describing itself as a nonprofit collective made up of global leaders and young people from creative agencies across the world “who are tired of waiting for change to happen,” Papel & Caneta (Paper & Pen) dropped this hauntingly beautiful video that,  through poetic song and dance, reframes what Brazil considers “flaws” as just what its country’s agencies need to thrive.

In “Meu Melhor Defeito” (“My Best Flaw”), created by Brendo + Gonfiantini in partnership with production studio Paranoid, the nonprofit reimagines “problems” that might deter agencies from hiring Brazilian creatives as strengths. The spot, for example, urges ad folk to not hide the fact that they were raised in a ghetto or by a “bricklayer,” but embrace elements of their past, because what makes them different “makes a difference.”

In a statement, Papel & Caneta pointed out some disturbing facts about agency culture in Brazil. First of all, the nonprofit said 53 percent of the Brazilian population is black, yet they account for just 35 out of 1,000 agency employees across the 50 largest shops in the country. Papel & Caneta reported 90 percent of women and 76 percent of men in Sao Paulo’s communications market alone have suffered from some form of moral or sexual assault.

The nonprofit’s statement also highlighted that “no woman, white or black” heads any of the country’s 20 largest agencies, and that less than 20 percent of Brazil’s creatives are women. “Brazil is the country with the highest numbers of LGBT killings in the world, and being a member of [that] community working in an agency means fighting against stereotypes and prejudice on a daily basis,” the nonprofit added.

Despite these harrowing facts, Brazil was still the fourth most decorated country at Cannes Lions last year. Papel & Caneta hopes that this year, Cannes judges will consider the above factors before handing out Lions to Brazil’s agencies.

“Cannes is around the corner, and in the face of so many crises and problems about diversity, unbridled pursuit of awards, a lack of women in leadership and even cases of harassment, we see leaders rushing to come on stage to demonstrate their support, but when it comes time to act for change, the truth is that there is still indifference and lack of priority,” Andre Chaves, connector at Papel & Caneta, said in a statement.

Along with “Meu Melhor Defeito,” which garnered 180,000 page views and 4,100 social shares without any paid media, Papel & Caneta distributed an accompanying documentary-style spot featuring stories from Brazilian creatives of detailing the moment they realized the ad industry, as it stands today, is not a fit place for all people.

Creatives such as Ana Cortat, former Pereira & O’Dell Brazil chief strategy officer, and Vagner Soares, co-founder of Dear Publicidade People, discuss hard topics like dealing with mental health issues amid the chaos of overloading work and being one of just a few black people within an ad agency, respectively.

The overall campaign, which included the documentary and “My Best Flaw,” was created pro bono and in collaboration with more than 30 ad professionals. Included in the campaign is an Instagram profile where minorities in the industry are encouraged to discuss their experiences with such issues as assault, homophobia, racism and more, and to find solace in a community that proves they’re not alone.

“In the last years, we have tried to provoke change through brands,” Diego Machado, founder of AKQA Brazil, said in a statement. “Now it’s time to look inward and provoke a change in ourselves, challenging leaders to ask themselves what criteria they’re using when they’re interacting with a generation that doesn’t just want awards and success.”


Team members
Ana Cortat: Founder of Hybrid Colab and Former CSO at Pereira & O’Dell Brazil
Beto Bina: Former Assoc. Strategy Director at R/GA NYC
Daniela Albuquerque,: Creative Director at CuboCC
Tatiana Tsukamoto: Creative Director at The Zoo (Google Brazil)
Thais Fabris: Co-founder of 6510
Rafael Campello: Senior copywriter at Young & Rubicam Sao Paulo
Spartakus Santiago: Youtuber and intern at Ogilvy New York
Raphaella Martins: Account manager at J Walter Thompson Brazil
Gabriela Rodrigues: Senior planner at Ogilvy Brazil
Gus Machado: Art director at AKQA Brazil
Diego Machado: Founder and creative director of AKQA Brazil
Andre Chaves: Connector at Papel & Caneta
Brendo+Gonfiantini: the directors of the film
Carol, Camila and Karoline: videomakers (Instagram videos)
Eduardo Zanelato: Culture Director at Mutato
Catharina Mendonça: Creative intern at Grey Brazil
Gustavo Mendes: Photographer

Supporters (since P&C is a collective made up of leading ad industry creatives from around the world, some other leaders decided to make a donation and support the project)
Jess Greenwood: SVP, US Head of Strategy at R/GA NY
Morihiro Harano: Founder of Mori Inc Tokyo
Martini: Founder and CEO at FLAGCX
Tim Claassen: Strategy Director at Havas Lemz Amsterdam
Lani Dourado: Senior Strategist at Deutsch Los Angeles
Aaron Duffy: Founder and ECD at SpecialGuest
Guto Monteiro: Creative Director at VML New York

@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.