Creating With Purpose: 15 Brazilian Pioneers Challenging the Ad Industry

While the rest of adland is chasing awards, change is happening through these creatives questioning the status quo

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Brazil consistently receives numerous awards at Cannes each year. AKQA Sao Paulo’s “Never Done Evolving” campaign for Nike won the Grand Prix in the Digital Craft category in 2023. AlmapBBDO’s “E4RTH” campaign for B3 Stock Exchange was recognized with a Grand Prix in the Creative B2B category.

Brazilian creativity has been recognized and celebrated for decades at festivals worldwide. However, beyond winning jurors’ hearts, a lot of change is happening outside the industry’s spotlight through professionals who are questioning the market in a very courageous way.

This list highlights some of these leaders and the change they brought about in the country throughout 2023. They are leaders who may never be awarded or honored by festivals like Cannes Lions but deserve to be remembered for their courage in confronting the status quo and their desire to transform the ad industry for the better.

Changing the face(s) of Cannes

In May, the Publicitários Negros (PN) collective formed a partnership with Cannes Lions, after nearly a year of conversations with Lions CEO Simon Cook. The goal was to bring five Afro-Brazilian creatives from ad agencies to the 2023 festival. The initiative gained the support of brands and Black professionals, who donated resources to fund the all-expenses-paid experience for the five creatives. The PN collective currently has over 8,000 Black professionals and a board of 14 volunteers, including creatives like Luna Lima and Simone Bispo.

Dining with purpose

Raphaella Martins found it uncomfortable to always meet with friends to discuss issues or demand better conditions in the industry. So, she started Toda Última Quinta (Every Last Thursday), a monthly dinner series focused on affection and connection. The dinners bring together about 30 Afro-Brazilian women in senior leadership positions. Even though more than half of Brazil’s population is Black, Black women occupy only 4.6% of leadership roles at the largest agencies and advertisers.

Opening doors for transgender creatives

For 14 years, Brazil has had the unfortunate distinction of being the nation with the most transgender homicides. Last year, Ariel Nobre wrote 14 letters to remind and question top agency leaders about what has been done to support the trans community. Through a video and over 100 handwritten pages, the initiative raised awareness among CEOs and created urgency within some agencies to develop goals and strategies to hire and promote transgender creatives.

Creating spaces for people with disabilities

Pedro França is a gay man with dwarfism who works as a director and screenwriter through his production company, Representa. In August, he launched, with Benedita Casé, the first videocast for people with disabilities in Brazil, PcDPod. Consisting of eight episodes and interviews with around 20 guests, the project creates space for a public debate about ableism by welcoming people with disabilities to talk about their experiences.

Playing the longevity game

Brazilians over 50 still do not feel represented by advertising. This was one of the discoveries brought to light by The Longevity Revolution study of more than 1,300 people conducted by Rita Almeida and Brazilian agency AlmapBBDO. Since the launch, Almeida has already given lectures and participated in an alignment with the UN Global Compact, with plans for further initiatives.

Widening the aperture to spotlight Indigenous people

Last year, Indigenous filmmaker Edivan Guajajara premiered We Are Guardians in Canada, his first documentary as a director. Made in conjunction with Appian Way Productions (Leonardo DiCaprio’s film production company) and Fisher Stevens, who has won the Oscar for Best Documentary, the success of the film demonstrates how important it is to have an Indigenous voice behind a production that discusses the struggles of forest people. Guajajara became the first indigenous Brazilian with a documentary film on Netflix Latin America with this production.

Driving tough conversations on inclusion

Liliane Rocha is the CEO of Gestão Kairós, a sustainability and diversity consultancy. In partnership with the Observatory of Diversity in Advertising, she launched the Inclusive Advertising: Brazilian Agencies Diversity Census 2023. The survey interviewed 24 of the largest agencies in the country, which reported their diversity data in an analysis of more than 6,200 employees. The results generated discussions with agency leaders, which led to a public commitment in April 2023.

Mapping content creators from the North of Brazil

In Brazil, brands always seek to connect with the Amazon Rainforest, but that doesn’t mean they hire content creators from the northern part of the country to do so. In January, Victor Israel created Vem do Norte (Comes from the North), the first agency specialized in content creators from Brazil’s northern region. Last year, in addition to connecting creators from the region with brands such as Google and Coca-Cola, the agency sent its team of creators to attend UN events during New York Climate Week.

Helping brands create memes

Alan Pereira, Daví Vosk, Luis Porto, Júlio Emílio, Sofía de Carvalho and Rodrigo Almeida created the Saquinho de Lixo meme page in 2018, which today has 2 million followers on Instagram alone. Last year, they launched the creative hub Saquinho to develop scripts, map content creators and produce memes for various brands. Thus far, Saquinho has created campaigns for Ambev, TikTok and Coca-Cola, always to create connections with Gen Z and millennials in a fun and authentic way.

Group of 6 Brazilian creatives laughing.
The founders of the Saquinho de Lixo meme page launched a creative hub to develop scripts, map content creators and produce memes for various brands.Breno da Matta