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Agency Profile: Santa Clara Brazil

Posted on June 19, 2012 and read 3,855 times

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ignacioadc60 Agency Profile: Santa Clara BrazilIgnacio Oreamuno
Executive Director
Art Directors Club


When I first visited Santa Clara almost two years ago, they were stationed in a beautiful house in Sao Paulo, complete with their own pool. It reminded me a lot of La Comunidad, the only other house-agency I had been in. Progress brings change and neither agency is in a house now. They have both grown up and become serious office-dwelling corporations.

Out of all the agencies I visited in Sao Paulo, Santa Clara probably has the nicest space. It’s not massive, but it’s cute. Designed by Brazilian Sub Estudio, the space has nice vibes and is a lot nicer than most of the massive rooms full of never-ending computers I saw at most of the other agencies.

Santa Clara’s charismatic co-founder Fernando Campos is a great leader and hard not to love. He has a high profile and is always busy, involved in everything from the ad club of Sao Paulo (CCSP) to judging award shows like el Ojo.

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ELOJODonaldGunn Agency Profile: Santa Clara Brazil

EL OJO beer1 Agency Profile: Santa Clara Brazil

Santa Clara, or at least her statue, greets you as walk in the door. “Clara” translates to “clear” and she is the Brazilian saint of vision. So much, in fact, that pilots regard her as their saint since she is supposed to be able to clear the skies. So far, the saint has blessed the agency with clients ranging from prominent Brazilian clients in the coffee, health, medicine and financial industries to international ones like Panasonic and Diageo.

It’s not surprising to learn that the founders of Santa Clara all used to work at major multinationals and have been essentially doing things the opposite way since they started. “It’s much easier to build than to rebuild,” says Fernando, clearly proud of his 100% independent agency. But being a startup is not easy, he admits, and adds that, “Two years ago I wanted stability. As a startup I was afraid of being a martyr. I didn’t want to be a startup forever.”

A lot of big agencies talk about integrating. But Fernando makes a good point, which is “if you talk about integrating, it means by default you are already disintegrated. In a large agency you integrate at the end of the process, here we are integrated from the beginning.”

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game of lifeNEBACETIN1 Agency Profile: Santa Clara Brazil

Santa Clara is very strategic and shies away from showing or talking execution. Instead they focus on business strategy from the beginning and it’s only after the business problem is tackled on paper that the team splits up and focuses on their specified tasks (at which point either the account or the creative guy will become the quarterback on the project). They then place meetings along the way, but unlike other agencies, there’s never a day at Santa Clara where the creative ideas are revealed or approved. Instead, the clients are part of the whole process. There are no surprises and as a result there is a great deal of loyalty. Because the clients own the idea, the work ends up being better.

When I brought up the topic of scam ads, for which Brazil is unfortunately famous for, Fernando made it clear that he’s against that. Not because it doesn’t work, but because it’s unproductive for the agency. “It’s better for our creatives to do great work with the real work instead of working late nights on work that has no clients.”

When it comes to structure, the agency of 65 people — of which about 15 are creatives and 10 are planners– is very horizontal with little bureaucracy or politics. As a result it’s very fun to work there. But there are aren’t any formal parties or special events, things just happen on the fly. There’s freedom, space and the ability to interfere. There is nothing you cannot say to anyone.

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Fernando stated that Santa Clara is also “Absolutely media neutral. We have no digital department and never will. It’s very lazy to have a digital department, it basically says that your own creatives don’t want to make the effort to learn digital.”

What’s in the future for Santa Clara? Fernando made it very clear he wants two things: a beer account and an air line. Let’s hope the Saint of Vision is listening.




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