Brazil: Ad Creation Is the Passion of This Former McCann Erickson’s Chief

Brazil's Adriana Cury A good mood on a Friday morning, amidst the chaos of the city of São Paulo, is not easy to be found. But advertiser Adriana Cury is very spirited. And she tells that this is a characteristic she inherited from her father, who was of Syrian and Lebanese origin.

Her grandfather, like so many other Arab immigrants, came from Lebanon to Brazil in the search for this dreams: success, peace and, of course, joy.

The descendants, like Adriana, are following the same route. Always joyful, humorous, one foot in arts and with great creativity. "This way life becomes easier," says Adriana. Below are the main stretches of the relaxed interview she gave:

Did your Arab descent influence your career in advertising?

It is funny how, one day, you notice how you have, somehow, incorporated all livelihoods in your professional career. The characteristic of speaking in public, which I have, of making presentations, selling a campaign. I think I find this ease in the past, in my roots, in my humorous and positive family. The characteristic of persuading has an echo there, in my life in theater, which was a world my parents liked. I was a child and I dressed up, disguised myself, and faced the audience. I acted, put on a surprised face.

Were your parents artists?

My father was creative, always varying, inventing. That came to me. He liked to sing opera, but it was a parallel life, as, unfortunately, he could not live off it, although he greatly appreciated it, and even sang in the Municipal Theater. He was also a member of a society of amateur lyrical singing, but he also did other things, his artistic side was very developed. He wrote plays, acted, but all on the amateur side, he never published anything, for example.

So there was a family talent for the arts?

This marked me very much, this joy and artistic disposition impressed me. I think that Arabs have very much of that, the thing of developing this side. Either they paint, sing, or read aloud. I remember it well, they cultivated that very much in my family. And, of course, all fed on Arab food. My aunts, when they came to these meetings, each prepared a dish. But I also cultivated the cautious characteristic of my mother (who is of Italian descent). It then became a funny mix.

Was your father's family large?

My father had ten brothers and my mother was an only daughter. It was a great contrast. My father's family was always very close. In the beginning of the year, on January 1st, it was a great party, with much Arab food, us all getting together. But one day it got too big, the family nuclei grew and the celebration was taken to restaurants.

We no longer do that, unfortunately. Many uncles passed away, but it is a very good memory. Happy, noisy, talkative people. It was a party that needed no animator, the family animated itself.

Did you also sing opera?

I was raised watching their opera classes, my mother also took lessons. When I was a child, I started singing, then I started feeling shy. I thought: "My friends are going to think I'm crazy, imagine that, singing opera." I left the story, but now I think: "It is a pity, I could have developed this voice thing more."

How about theater?

They also organized plays and, sometimes, I participated in operas as a supporting actress, they dressed me up and there, at the theater, with a friend of mine. And we supported them, it was very interesting for us, a magic world, with clothes, makeup and colors.

Was that when you understood what advertising was?

Look, ever since I was a child, advertising fascinated me. I watched TV and told my mother: "I want to invent these things that I see on TV." I didn't really know what it was, of course, but I found it interesting. My mother, who was also a teacher of Neo-Latin languages, played an important part in my choice. She had all this knowledge, she helped my father very much in opera, in diction, pronunciation. They were sometimes operas in Italian, Latin. And she taught me to write very early, and I started school already knowing how to read and write. She pushed me to read very much.

So the liking to read and write was added to my father's life, which was full of ideas.

What was your first job?

I became a writer, my basis is writing. I graduated at FAAP (Armando ílvares Penteado Foundation) and started becoming interested in creation. I did internships in small advertising agencies and then I went to MPM which, at the time, was the largest advertising agency in Brazil. And I was hired there.

I started in proofreading. I did not want to start as an intern, as they did not have programs like they do today, and interns were seen as people who had to accept anything. As I knew much Portuguese, I started as an assistant proofreader. My routine was college in the morning and MPM in the afternoon.

And then I discovered that I also wanted to go into creation. So I changed to evening college, I did an internship in creation in the morning and worked as a proofreader in the afternoon and at night, after college. I had no computer, it was all done by hand. I went to sleep at 4 am.

One day my father said: "Daughter, you are going to kill yourself living like that. I will pay you so you don't have to work so much." To which I answered: "But it is what I want." And they soon hired me as a junior proofreader.

How long did you work at MPM?

I worked there for four years, all the advertising stars were there. At the time the business was divided between MPM and DPZ. They were rivals, it was all polarized between them. It was hard to leave, but I was seen as a girl of the house, people wanted to protect me and, after four years, I decided to leave. I thought the time had come to try outside. I went to a smaller agency, but I did not stay too long, it was very different from what I was used to.

MPM was turned to creative excellence. It was not necessary to redo work, the salespeople didn't return with campaigns refused. At other agencies there was not much of this concern, and I was horrified at having to do a job for the third time. I didn't know that the rest of the advertising world was like that.

How can you link creation and administration in an agency?

I learnt much at Colucci, after having worked at other large agencies (Leo Burnett, Almapp and Lintas, among others). Colucci was a smaller agency, which did not have great chances of enrolling campaigns in festivals, I worked much with Oscar Colucci to do business. And that was good, I learnt much, even more than I would have if I had been at a large agency, where areas are much more segmented.

There they weren't, I had to do many things. This granted me a good managerial vision, I learnt how to prospect clients, to think about how an agency should operate, to see media, plan. And Colucci started doing well at festivals, bringing me my first nomination to be a judge at Cannes, in 2001. It was a very rich experience, very nice.

How about your most recent experiences?

From Colucci I went to Ogilvy, where I was the national vice president for creation and from there I went to McCann, my last job. I was invited to take on the presidency of the agency and also made responsible, specifically, for creation. But I like administration, designing an agency according to new tendencies, proposing a new work methodology, a good modus operandi, where teams are integrated. Of course creation is my passion, once you work in creation, you are stuck for good. You cannot disconnect yourself totally.




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