Why Argentina Scores at Cannes

A history of "doing a lot with a little" has given Argentina's creatives an edge, says Ogilvy's Maxi Maddalena.

yoluyla Mark Tungate , AdForum

By Mark Tungate

Perhaps because Argentina regularly produces great advertising, audiences are more enthusiastic about it than they are in other countries. A few years back, an Argentinian friend told me that football fans have been known to chant advertising jingles on the terraces.

Or is it this enthusiasm that fuels enhanced creativity?

Maxi Maddalena, executive creative director of Ogilvy Argentina, says: “Culturally, Argentina is a country where there are many theaters, cinemas and bookstores. We like to tell stories. We’ve always had very good creative people, which generated a school, a healthy competition where we’re always looking to improve the work. On the other hand, in Argentina we have experienced a few economic crises, so we are used to doing a lot with very little.”

Maxi says advertising began to attract him at the age of 20, a consequence of working at a printing firm and studying graphic design at the University of Buenos Aires.

“Some time later I started working in a design studio. It was there I met the advertising business. My boss, who had worked at an agency, saw my interest and told me about an opportunity at Vegaolmosponce: a new agency founded by two creative directors at the end of the nineties. I showed them my print portfolio and they hired me as a ‘visualizer’ – an assistant to the art director.” 

The first campaign he was really proud of was actually his second – for Skip detergent. “The product had an innovation: it came with oxygen bubbles that removed stains from clothes faster and better. The concept of the campaign was: ‘Bubbles live for five seconds, but what a quality five seconds!’ It was funny. It was a very well done job.”

I wonder what Maxi looks for in an ideal campaign. He replies: “Difficult. It depends a lot on the brand and the objectives of the campaign. I always look for an idea that works, which means persuading the consumer, as well as being executed with good craft.”

With Cannes on the horizon, does he have any work up his sleeve that’s likely to do well this year?

“I am very happy with the work we are sending to participate in the festival. If I have to highlight one, it is without a doubt ‘Once in a lifetime’ for American Express. We were able to develop a very nice idea with the brand and have the luxury of director Alex de la Iglesia being part of it.”

Is he a fan of awards in general? “I always want to win prizes,” he says, adding diplomatically, “but if I have to choose I prefer doing a great campaign for my client to winning a prize.” 

AMEX - ONCE IN A LIFETIME - PRENSA from nico corvino rius on Vimeo.