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Cannes seminar: Marcello Serpa on sports as a source for global creative inspiration

Getting to the heart of sport.

Sport is about both winning and losing. About determination. Heroes. And history. These are the raw ingredients laid out by legendary ALMAP BBDO creative chief Marcello Serpa as being something that creative people can really create something special. In a World Cup year that becomes even more sharply brought into focus – at least for the two-thirds of the world where it dominates attention for a month. Of course, being a passionate Brazilian he could not present an entirely neutral view.

“Some countries have won the trophy a lot (slide of Brazil crest with five stars) and some countries not so much (slide of Argentina shirt with two stars),” he said at the Visa: Sports as a source for global creative inspiration seminar on June 15 at Cannes. But Serpa was very enlightening on a darker more wounding event in the country’s past – the shock victory of Uruguay in 1950 – which still resonates today in a recent spot he showed for Puma.


Visa chief marketing officer Kevin Burke then laid out the brand’s long association with both the Olympics and the World Cup. He spoke – as many CMOs do these days – about the importance of storytelling. However he did have some good stories to tell, particularly about Freestyle Skier David Wise – who surprised many by being a father at 23. He described Sochi as the most ‘social’ Olympics ever. And laid out a case-study (yes, clients use them too) showing how Visa had won the war of impressions vs other olympic advertisers. On the footballing front he included some interesting work with French footballer Zidane (who notoriously head-butted an Italian player in the World Cup final eight years ago) in an Italian restaurant watching a game on TV, where things don’t look good until the match starts going Italy’s way.

Finally the two were joined on stage by both David Wise and French footballing hero Marcel Desailly. Serpa in his questions conveniently ‘forgot’ which team France had beaten in their 1998 victory. And Desailly spoke movingly about how football – and that game in particular – had changed his life. They also talked about the importance of brands fitting themselves to the athletes rather than the other way round. Finally as a parting shot to the audience Desailly was given a Brazil World Cup ball to lob into the eager arms of the audience. It was caught by an Argentinian.

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