AME Awards Grand Jury Spotlight Interview: Sérgio Brodsky

The AME Awards, honoring the world’s best advertising & marketing effectiveness, recruits its powerhouse jury from around the globe. Sérgio Brodsky, Strategy Director for Starcom Australia, is just one of the AME’s international Grand Jury of interdisciplinary creatives charged with selecting the world’s most effective advertising & marketing campaigns.

Sérgio, an experienced brand, media and innovation professional, brings his creative talents to the 2017 AME Grand Jury.  A proven thought-leader, Sérgio is also a frequent speaker and lecturer and a regular columnist for Marketing Magazine (AUS) and Merca 2.0 (MEX).               

In the interview below, Sérgio spends a few minutes with AME and shares his thoughts on the AME Awards, the defining moment in his career, his views on how cultural and social change influence creative work, and much more.

AME: What was a defining moment in your career?

Sérgio Brodsky: For someone who started out as an IP lawyer to then join a military high-tech company and moved into retail before finally landing in the marketing and communications industry, and all that across four different continents, my career has been constantly redefining itself. However, the need to communicate in different languages and cultures – I’ve lived in São Paulo, Jerusalem, London and Melbourne – made me realize that leading a cosmopolitan life where I can connect with others is a real passion and there could be no better fit than the marcomms industry.  That said, a recent highlight happened upon being awarded by The Marketing Academy to join their highly esteemed Australia Leaders Program, which recognizes our industry’s top talent taking us on the most incredible leadership journey.

AME: In your opinion how does cultural/social change influence regional work?

Sérgio Brodsky: Understanding people and our many cultural manifestations is Marketing’s true source of value. Having worked at diametrically opposed regions I can comfortably say that cultural and social differences do and should influence the work we do. This is as fundamental as one of the most basic concepts in marketing, segmentation, where strategy design is based on the common needs and interests of target audiences. The challenge, however, comes from globalization and cost-efficiency pressures from networked markets, compelling advertisers to mainstream cultural constructs in the form of communication programs across very different realities. In fact, this is a topic I addressed on my column at Marketing Magazine’s “Content Issue” where marketers can learn more about the incredible rise of crowdculture strategies as well as how it could be depleting our cultural biodiversity.

AME: What makes the AME Awards stand out from other competitions?

Sérgio Brodsky: Beyond its international profile and high-caliber entrants, having a focus on effectiveness is definitely appealing for a marketing strategist like me. Creativity will always be important but the elements that inform it have radically changed. The concept of the “big idea” has certainly made our industry great but it has also contributed to the massive increase in ad avoidance behavior. This is because “big ideas” are often one-sided, coming from creative egos infatuated with emerging trends and tech, disregarding data-led audience insights and the actual business problems those should be solving. Effective marketing is useful and a product of teams’ collaborative work where opposing views and complementary skills can deliver the best possible outcome. In 2015 a study conducted by the Martin Prosperity Institute placed Australia as the most creative nation in the world yet, it was ranked 17th by the Global Innovation Index. There is a clear disparity and Australia is not an exception. As an industry we need to elevate our craft to a state-of-the-art without trying to be artists. I praise the AME awards for making effectiveness the standard.

AME: What inspires you?

Sérgio Brodsky: Ha! “The crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers […].  Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

And when it comes to marketing and advertising, initiatives that can effectively solve a business problem simultaneous to addressing society’s most pressing issues will most certainly keep me passionately up till late at night!

For example Halonix, an Indian energy retailer that through its Safer City campaign, turned billboards into street lights, making Indian women safer and combating New Delhi’s stigma as India’s rape capital. The campaign was picked up by the media and the positive response caused the brand to roll out the idea in seven other Indian cities followed by a popular request that the campaign should spread even further. Unaided brand recall for Halonix grew from 20% to 70%. The project’s Facebook page gained more than 100,000 engaged users within two months, with a total reach of more than 6 million.

With consumers increasingly less receptive to advertising, pervading their lives by providing a useful service is a win-win. Considering that people, capital and development are concentrated in urban areas it’s a clever move to make cities the focus of your advertising campaigns. That inspired me to develop an approach I coined Urban brand-utility (a.k.a. UBU) that aims at mainstreaming this practice of using brand communications touchpoints to deliver public utility services. If you’re crazy enough to get involved, I gave an interview to Brand Newsroom where I talk about UBU in more detail.

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