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W/McCann (Brazil)

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WMcCann is the Brazilian arm of the McCann global network, created in 2010 from the merger of McCann's existing office with renowned local independent W/Brasil. That agency was founded and run by Washington Olivetto, undoubtedly Brazil's most famous advertising executive during the 1980s and 1990s and still one of the local industry's best-known figures.


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WMcCann Brasil
Rua Loefgreen 2527
Vila Clementino
CEP 04040-030
Sao Paulo
Tel: 55 11 3775 3000

Although it remained a significant creative force in its home market by the 2000s, W/Brasil had to a large extent been overtaken by younger or more international agencies. Once one of the country's top ten shops, it ranked in the 40s by 2010. In April 2010, the business was acquired by Interpublic and merged into the local office of McCann Erickson. Olivetto himself was named as McCann's chief creative officer for Latin America, and remains chairman & chief creative officer of WMcCann. Paulo Gregoraci is vice chairman & COO, Martin Montoya is president. The combined business was back among the country's top three shops in 2014, according to local researcher IBOPE, with billings of over $1.6bn. The following year it won the lead role on the country's second largest local mobile brand TIM Brasil, in a partnership with digital and integrated agency CuboCC, also acquired in 2010 by Interpublic.

Washington Olivetto originally began his career in the 1970s at DPZ, the agency which has a reputation as the university for Brazil's advertising industry. With the backing of European network GGK, Olivetto formed W/GGK in 1986. However in a country where many of the leading advertisers are local companies with a limited international profile, the joint venture was slow to attract suitably multinational accounts. Olivetto and partners Gabriel Zellmeister and Javier Llussa bought out GGK in 1989 and renamed the agency W/Brasil, establishing a reputation as one of the country's most original creative shops, with clients including Mercedes and Red Bull. Olivetto became the country's best-known industry figure, winning a string of international awards and achieving household name status in his home country. He was even the subject of several songs by popular Brazilian music star Jorge Ben-Jor celebrating Olivetto's creative genius.

The agency also opened outposts in Spain and Portugal (later closed or sold), and created umbrella company Prax Holding, which added other Brazilian interests to its portfolio. It even opened a short-lived US subsidiary, W/USA, in 1992. Prax opened spinoff agency Registrada in Brazil in 1996 and later acquired a 40% stake in Lew, Lara, another very successful creative shop, founded in 1992 by Jaques Lewkowicz and Luiz Lara.

In 2001 Olivetto hit the headlines again when he was kidnapped and held to ransom. After 53 days in captivity, he finally escaped unharmed. His kidnappers, a gang of hardened Chilean extremists already wanted for murdering a senator in their home country, were later caught and imprisoned. (Befitting his status as a household name in Brazil, it was announced in 2011 that a big budget film is to be made of Olivetto's life, with his kidnapping ordeal as its main focus. Filming begins in 2012.) Following his escape, Olivetto returned to his normal activities, but W/Brasil's reputation took a few hits and it was gradually eclipsed by Lew, Lara. In 2003, the latter climbed into Brazil's Top 10 agencies for the first time, as a result of a string of major account wins.

In 2007, TBWA acquired Prax's shareholding in Lew Lara, which was merged with the American network's local office to form Lew Lara/TBWA. The Prax umbrella company dabbled in other areas, including alcoholic beverages, but was later more or less disbanded.

Last full revision 20th January 2016

* Archive page for historical reference only. This profile is no longer being actively updated. See active page here *

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