Alvaro Bretel, Head of Strategy MEA, VIRTUE Worldwide

AME Grand Jury POV: Alvaro Bretel

2021 AME Grand Jury member Alvaro Bretel brings over 11 years of experience to the jury panel He is a currently is Head of Strategy for MEA at Virtue Worldwide, the creative agency born from VICE.

New York, NY | March 18, 2021

AME's Grand Jury are experts in creating results driven work on behalf of global brands. As award-winners themselves,their stellar reputations and commitment to creative and effective work set the benchmark for innovation. Their high standard of excellence and global perspective ensure entries are reviewed with utmost attention and based on an international view of industry standards and trends.

2021 AME Grand Jury member Alvaro Bretel brings over 11 years of experience  to the jury panel He is a currently is Head of Strategy for MEA at Virtue Worldwide, the creative agency born from VICE. Alvaro is a Peruvian strategist based in Dubai. Previously he has worked in agencies like Wunderman Thompson, MullenLowe and Grey. as. He has over 100 awards and recognitions from prominent national, regional, and international award shows.

In the interview below Alvaro Bretel shares his perspective on stand-out award-winning work, why advertisingn needs to go back to Brand-Building, his all time favorite ads and more.

AME Awards: As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative effective advertising?

Alvaro Bretel: We live in a world where 99% of advertising is crap. It’s only that 1% that manages to push the boundaries of what advertising truly can be. First and foremost, effective advertising should not only be measured by its commercial implications, but by the role it plays in culture. Advertising, as the cultural product it is, has the power to help move it forward rather than just reflect it. However, the type that manages to push culture forwards is part of that 1% (and hopefully part of those that get awarded).

AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?

Alvaro Bretel: Our industry is dominated by creative awards, that’s the currency that gets an agency’s name out there and gets creatives hired. However, some of these awards have taken advantage of such context and it feels like our industry has become obsessed with these types of awards that the actual work becomes a mean to that end.

AME Awards counteracts the trend. It’s not about doing the work for the award; it’s about doing the work for the work itself. I love going through the AME winners every year because you can truly see work that was not only done to bring a shiny piece of metal home. It is work that truly defines where advertising is going and evidences the role it has in culture. This is why an award like this one is important. It’s not about pointless fame, it’s about true recognition to work that makes me fall back in love with our industry.

AME Awards: How has the brand’s voice changed since the pandemic confinement measures? Speak to the evolution of brand positioning, values, and tone of voice during COVID.

Alvaro Bretel: COVID hasn’t changed advertising per se. COVID has been a boiling point for society, people are not willing to stand the same bullshit that they have been standing for decades (in every single aspect of life). That’s why we’ve seen so many protests around the world against corrupt governments, against inequality, against police brutality, against every single thing that we’ve endured patiently. People are not willing to take it anymore.

The same will happen to our industry. The people we talk to are not going to be willing to allow brands to shield themselves behind a pseudo-purpose discourse and not take action. I think, moving forward, brands will start to be held accountable of how they operate their business beyond what they say through advertising. That’s going to have a massive implication on how our industry does things.

AME Awards: What will advertising look like next year? What brands have evolved and succeeded during this year and why?

Alvaro Bretel: It’s not necessarily an evolution or something new, it’s something we need to go back to: Brand building. Peter Field flagged last year that we are ditching proper brand building for more immediate results. I think we got trapped in the so-called ‘digital revolution and the players that pushed us to shift budgets entirely to performance media. In that process, we forgot that advertising’s largest effects can only be experienced in the long-term, not in the short-term.

I’m seeing that brands are shifting back to proper brand building as they know understand that the crazy obsession with immediate results ended up harming the brands in the long-term. I hope that I see more and more brands rethinking their budgets and focusing more on building brands rather than trying to achieve short-lived sales peaks through 5-second pre-rolls.

AME Awards: What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads and why in your opinion did they triumph?

Alvaro Bretel: I’ll answer this in two parts. First, the ad that I watch over and over again when I feel I’m losing hope in advertising is Sony Balls. Those 150 seconds make me fall back in love with advertising (every single time). I can’t think of any rational explanation to why this ad is so good, it could be its simplicity maybe, its message, its visual. To be honest, I don’t care, I don’t watch it to think, I watch it to feel.

As an industry we’ve spent the last few years praising Burger King for its multiplicity of short-lived stunts, but we’ve forgotten to praise more a brand that has been playing such an active role in helping culture evolve, a brand that has been pushing the boundaries year after year with consistency. I’m talking about Bodyform. Starting with “No blood should hold you back”, going through Blood Normal, Viva la Vulva and now #Wombstories. What Essity and AMV BBDO achieved to do was to focus on an uphill battle to help menstruation be recognized as the most natural (and powerful) thing that can happen and they’ve done it beautifully, with consistency and with the conviction of pushing the boundaries more and more, every single year. So yeah, I would say that, as an industry, we should praise Burger King less and praise Bodyform more.