DDB at El Ojo was a smashing hit by any standards


DDB Latina sure knows how to celebrate. At the 20-year celebration of the El Ojo Festival, they walked away with more than 120 trophies from 12 offices – crowning them indisputably the most creative network of Ibero-America. In addition to Network of the Year, Africa was awarded the Best Agency in Ibero-America with Sergio Gordilho recognized as Best Creative in the region, followed by Alma DDB in second by only a few-point difference and DM9DDB in third place. DDB & Tribal Argentina, DDB Spain, Fahrenheit DDB Peru, DDB Centro, DDB Colombia, Puerto Rico, Tribal Peru, and Madison DDB Costa Rica also contributed gold, silver and bronze trophies to the haul.

Africa, Alma DDB, DDB Puerto Rico, and DDB Centro Guatemala, took the title of Best Local Agency, while Luis Miguel Messianu, Alvar Suñol, Sergio Gordilho, Kike Renta, Jorge Solórzano and Julián Núñez were recognized as the Best Creatives in their respective markets. In addition, DDB Puerto Rico and DDB Centro Guatemala took the award for Best Local Idea.

Africa’s Inequality Courts for ESPN, Alma DDB’s Spanish Lessons for Netflix, and DM9DDB’s Walmart Price on the Jersey each took home a Grand Prix in the Sustainable, Interactive, and Promo and Activation categories, respectively.

At a time when so many shows are looking to reinvent themselves, El Ojo continues to gain in influence, becoming one of the most recognized festivals in the world and the leading festival in Ibero-America. We asked our top winners this year what makes El Ojo – and DDB Latina – so exceptional.

Enrique (Kike) Renta, DDB Latina Puerto Rico: El Ojo, first and foremost, comes with the backing of Latin’s Spots magazine reputation. That means years of close relation with our business, both regionally and nationally. These people know the pulse of Ibero-American advertising by heart and devised a festival that servers agencies at many levels. It provides a showcase for the best work in the region, yet recognizes performance within each market.

José María Roca de Viñals, DDB Spain: I had the honor to be President of the Jury in Promo & Activation this year, for the second time in this festival. Their voting system is based on a combination of an open digital platform, which allows twenty give or take delegates to vote simultaneously, and a roundtable of Presidents of the Jury, who select the Grand Prix in the different categories. This voting process makes the festival unique, fair and as a result, highly respected and recognized across the Latam industry.

Luis Miguel Messianu, Alma DDB Miami: It’s very representative of the Ibero-American idiosyncrasies and way of looking at life and our industry.

Julián Nuñez, DDB Centro Guatemala: Perhaps the main difference is the diversity and the understanding that the jury has of the Latin American context. It is its own reality and by being capable to understand it the juries work in a unique way.

What makes the El Ojo juries different from those at other shows?

Luis Miguel: It focuses on a homogenous but still very diverse region.

Kike: While international festivals reunite people from all cultural backgrounds and nationalities, El Ojo builds on a pool of talent that shares a common cultural heritage. They have devised a jury system that runs wide across all participating countries, supported by an online voting platform designed to weigh in the valuations with as much objectivity as possible.

What were the top trends at the Festival this year?

Luis Miguel: There was a focus on great simple human ideas and the impact of technology.

Roca: Also, as we have been recognizing in other festivals too, the main conclusion we came to was that there is a need to reshape our festivals. We have to adapt their categories to current reality. There isn’t a differentiation between on and offline anymore and we shouldn’t try to fit every idea in a box called channel.

What is DDB Latina doing differently? What can other regions learn from your success?

Roca: When Juan Carlos Ortiz created this new concept of Latina, he put emphasis on the idea that it is our shared culture that brings us together much more than geography. Following this statement we have developed a strong relationship and understanding between us, that extends further from just work. We help each other, from festivals to pitch preparation, or finding solutions to business problems. This innovative approach makes the difference between DDB and the rest its competitors in the region.

Kike: At DDB we have successfully organized around a vision of shared cultural essence amongst countries. At the same time it values the nuances of difference, the unique character each office brings to the table. I feel at DDB Latina we see the Creative product as a shared responsibility, carefully curated by all the members of the Creative Council and nurtured through meetings year round. Our Bullseye meetings, where all the work is reviewed, serves as a filter to see our collective performance with brutal honesty, hence the awareness each individual office has of its role in shaping the reputation of the network. The result is a solid network of individually strong companies – each part an integral force within the whole.

Luis Miguel: DDB Latina is a “sentimental region” that has many similarities amongst the different offices, starting with an uncompromising commitment to creativity at the core. Our leadership, starting with Juan Carlos and with each of us at the helm, is true to the values and heritage of Bernbach and DDB. We all understand we are in the business of ideas. Our continued dialogue and our generosity during the ongoing Bullseye process is also a “secret weapon”.

Julián: In a very personal way I think that in Latina I’m surrounded by professionals that I admire, and I love working with them and learning from them. And at some point, I think, we understood that we are much stronger together.

DDB Latina’s borders transcend the Latin American region, and some of its offices operate in foreign territory so to speak. Does this also say something about the impact diversity can have on creative business?

Roca: Of course, diversity is key in creativity, innovation and as such the advertising industry. DDB Latina expresses this diversity bringing together people from Miami, Barcelona, Sao Paulo or Lima to address common challenges as a team.

Luis Miguel: Totally! Diversity and a willingness to help each other for the greater good make a world of difference.

So many offices contributed to the win and the network took home all three Best Agency honors as well as three Grand Prix awards from three different agencies. How do you maintain a strong team as well as build strong individual agencies?

Luis Miguel: Through a shared vision and goal for creative excellence. In the case of Alma, I personally work very hard to safeguard the creative culture and I’m always looking for ways to enhance the “emotional salary” for our people.

Julián: This diversity brings to the discussion very different visions about common problems, and this is an immense contribution in the creative process.

Alvar Sunol, Alma DDB Miami: All Latina offices have something in common: “Passion” and it is probably for the condition of being Latinos. This is exactly what we all breath in each of our regional meetings. We are passionate about being better, helping each other, great ideas, and most importantly about having fun while we do our job. At the end of the day, when passion is present, only good things can arise.

Roca: I feel the secret lies on the strong creative board led by Juan Carlos, which has been working together for a long time and it is used to increasing workload together as a team. It is additionally very important to possess the art of managing demands and expectations from different creative personalities. Juan Carlos has the secret for this, and it must be something like the Coca Cola recipe: nobody knows 😉

DDB Latina does seem to have created a secret sauce together – but is there something unique to that each brings?

Julián: I think it’s the desire to see us all at the top. There is a lot of competition inside but also a lot of unity and teamwork.

Luis Miguel: Diversity is embedded and is part of our DNA. Passion runs high amongst us! It’s passion for life, passion for our people, our culture and our work!

Based on the favorite ingredients of this team, you’ll need equal parts bold and spicy flavors plus some bay laurel, a lot of cilantro, and whisky. Provecho!