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A blueprint for the future? AKQA’s new creative directors exclusively reveal the ‘open-house’ agency they’re leading in Brazil

AKQA has just hired the ex-Ogilvy creative duo behind Dove Beauty Sketches – Hugo Veiga and Diego Machado – to lead its new Brazil office. But this will be no ordinary wing of the global agency and The Drum has exclusive artistic impressions of what the new “open-house” agency will offer.

“The reason that we’re setting up in Brazil is a combination of the talent and the opportunity,” AKQA’s CEO Ajaz Ahmed says, explaining that the expansion was only given the go ahead when Veiga and Machado agreed to come on board.

“We’ve always wanted to do it but what we didn’t want to do is set up an office without the right leadership in place.”

The decision to hire copywriter Veiga and art director Machado speaks volumes on the direction AKQA is looking to take the new San Paulo offering. Other well-established agencies have similarly made the move to opening an office in the Brazil’s largest city – with the impending World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games undoubtedly playing no small part in those decisions. However, Ahmed explains that the strategy he has seen others follow tends to rely heavily on the media buying aspect.“But within AKQA Brazil it’s going to be overwhelmingly creative people and that’s going to be our focus,” he continues. “It’s not going to have the focus of media buying and we’ll collaborate with the WPP network for buying and distribution.” To support and encourage this collaboration ‘AKQA Casa’ is currently in the process of being built. “We don’t want it to be an office. The agency will have a spirit of home or family,” Viega tells The Drum, explaining there will be a Brazilian ‘mom’ who will cook the team of 50 healthy meals every day to make sure everyone is getting the right levels of nutrition. “We renovating an actual home. We want to do the opposite of what corporate agencies do and be much more human and community oriented,” adds Ahmed. It is the first time the agency has approached opening an office in such a way and this “community” aspect is one which Veiga and Machado are fully embracing. Creative-minded people from any background and of any discipline – musicians, artists, writers or performers – are all welcome to come to AKQA Casa and collaborate in some way with the AKQA creatives. Machado explains that it will, in the most part, be local Brazilians who will be invited to the house, although any creatives from around the world can put themselves forward to feature in the programme of activites AKQA will plan. “What’s important is to get a diversity, getting people from different backgrounds and different disciplines in different industries,” he continues. “It makes you think of the world in a different way, find unpredictable answers. We’re always looking for the unexpected, the new. This helps us do that.” Ahmed adds that the brands AKQA works with – including Nike, Visa and Audi - have been enthusiastic about the new model. “The only way to be constantly adaptive and agile is by having a business model that is constantly adaptive and agile and has an incredible number of influences and connections,” he says. Despite being several weeks from having the AKQA Casa keys handed to them, Viega and Machado have already been working on projects for global clients specifically for the Brazilian market. They say that an increasing number of brands are giving them higher quality briefs which move away from traditional film, print and TV advertising in favour of an investment in digital content.

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