The NOW Gen


The New Value Proposition Agencies Must Offer Now

In this episode, our guest Gabriel Schmitt, Co-Chief Creative Officer at FCB New York, spoke with our host, Francisco Serrano, about creativity and value proposition.


Gabriel Schmitt


Francisco Serrano (01:03):

Hello and welcome again to the NOW Gen podcast. We will be talking today about the new value proposition agencies must offer now to the global brands. That is a challenge that all global brands are having right now. So, it’s going to be an interesting topic. And for that, we have a very special guest. His name is Gabriel Schmitt. He is the Chief Creative Officer of FCB New York. He has a vast experience in creative strategies and interactive advertising. He’s a season creative professional with an MBA, at the Burling School of Creative Leadership. He’s multi, as you heard, right? Multi award winner at the cans and his work is featured at the New York times, NBC, ABC, fast company, and many other media outlets. So, you better get your ears together because you’re going to learn a lot in this session. Thank you very much for being here, Gabriel.

Gabriel Schmitt (02:09):

Thank you so much for having me. I love, I love that “you better get your ears together.” It’s a good one. I’m going to steal this one.

Francisco Serrano (02:16):

You know, sometimes they’re connected to the brain and that is going to be something useful. Well, yeah, thank you for being here and before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, your career. I know that you’re originally from Brazil and tell us a little bit about that.

Gabriel Schmitt (02:32):

Yeah, I’m co CCO at FCB New York. So, I share the creative responsibilities there with Michael Matt, my partner, I’ve been in, yes, I am from Brazil. I’ve been in the U.S. since 2012. I worked for four years at FCB Chicago where I started as a mid-level creative. Before that I had worked in Brazil for seven years maybe, but then, you know, came to Chicago as a mid-level creative in 2012 and were there for four years. Moved to New York to work at KBS for a brief period of time. And then moved back to FCB, for FCB New York in 2016. And here we’re.

Francisco Serrano (03:23):

Oh, you’re awesome. And I see that you have a lot of work going on with a lot of big brands, so, I’m sure you’re gonna tell us a little bit about that and just,  just the time, I mean, it was just,  time for the cannes festival, right? I mean, it just passed. Tell us your experience about that.

Gabriel Schmitt (03:44):

In general, of how can … and how important it’s for the industry or, or this specifically this past one?

Francisco Serrano (03:50):

Your experience as a professional going there or having your work feature there and specifically for the brands or the industry what role it plays in the whole, you know, advertising and messaging world.

Gabriel Schmitt (04:07):

Yeah, it’s incredibly important. Because it’s that time of the year, or is the pinnacle of the time of, of the year where, you know, we as an industry celebrate the most important work that is happening around the world. In the last few years, I think the Cannes Lions did a very good job on course correcting some of the trends that we were seeing before, where, not work that was really helping brands, but the work that was only created for credit’s sake was winning. And I feel like it’s been a few years where, you know, the biggest awards go to brands and to ideas that really move the needle from an obviously first and foremost, from a credit point of view, but that really bring tangible business results to the brands. And what that caused was that it became a much more interesting, you know, celebration also for the clients and for the people who are working on the brands.

Gabriel Schmitt (05:14):

So, what you see can now is there’s almost as many brand people as there is, there are creatives and agency people there. And I think that’s super positive because we always say that FCB New York, that we don’t, you know, we’re not creatives or creative leads. We are truly business partners of our clients and I think that having a, having the biggest advertising festival, reflecting that is important. And it only makes the whole thing healthier because if I don’t wear, if I don’t have my, you know, our heart in the right place, so to speak, if the agenda is not, you know, the same between agencies and brands, then the work is just not gonna be amazing. So, celebrating the right kind of work at the biggest stage, you think seems it’s super important. And, you know, it becomes a thing where you see a lot of people that do kind of never see during the year, everyone gathers at Cannes and meet each other. So, it’s also very important for the, for the sociability of it. And it’s something that we all look forward to do. So, it’s very important.

Francisco Serrano (06:27):

Yeah. I would imagine that it could be interesting to see all the creatives connecting and that conversation would be very, very interesting to see all those genius minds getting together and trying to figure out what, what is the, the next step of going above and beyond, right? So, I mean, you guys had, I have notes here, one grand prix five, you you’ve been five golden lions, five silver lions, three bronze lions. What does that, I mean, an award-winning professional, like you, how, how I, I I’ve seen your work. I went to your page and it’s amazing. And I like, particularly the example last year, how you guys connected with the burger king ad, you know, the guy that stands up and…

Gabriel Schmitt (07:21):

Yeah, yeah.

Francisco Serrano (07:22):

It’s just you, you connect with the audience and, and it was something that was happening now. And, and I, I think you mentioned in one of your interviews that, that you had something different plan and you had to react. And, and so can you explain a little bit about that and the evolution of now, where is burger king and just pick that as an example, but if you have any other examples, feel the idea is to, to bring the NOW Generation alive and how you have to connect with that.

Gabriel Schmitt (07:54):

Yeah. I think the pandemic, you know, with all the awful things that it brought, it also brought us few interesting opportunities to rethink our approach into the, obviously into the world, into work at large, but also marketing communication wise. What happened with that idea for Burger King,  which is called,  stay home of the Whopper, was that it was, I think we launched that idea on April of 2020, up until that point, April or May, up until that point, everything that was going out in the world was very monotone, you know, very sad pianos and voiceover saying, we’re gonna go for this together, which I totally understand. And it made sense, I think in the beginning of the pandemic, because everyone was so lost and reacting to, you know, that massive shift into our collective lives, that it’s understandable that we all the brands were trying to, you know, send messages of strength and care so to speak, but it became very tiring very quickly, right?

Gabriel Schmitt (09:05):

Because every, you, you would turn, you will go on YouTube or Instagram or turn on a TV and everything with always the same. Um, we had that campaign for Burger King in the, in the can had shot that, that film already, and it was gonna, we were gonna use that film for something else or something different, a different promotion. And we, that it had been created pre-pandemic, when we saw everything that was happening, obviously with pandemic once, and then second with how the brands were behaving. We kind of have the, the idea of, okay, what if we repurpose what we’re doing here and, and go towards, you know, what people are more needing now, which is yes, bot is a very enforcement, but doing for the lenses of the brand and for the tone of the brand, and, and maybe have a go go out in the world of something that feels fresher and then a little bit more authentic to what burger king is rather than doing everything, you know, the same way that everyone else was doing, which is when we Re-edited the film,  and, and, and launched,  probably the first campaign in the world during pandemic, that was not, you know, a sad piano thing and, and had a different tone.

Gabriel Schmitt (10:15):

It was a risky move, not risky. It was a brave move. Um,  because it could have, you know, it’s a fine line between making sure people are engaging the message and not having fun with the message. And again, pandemic is not the most comparable place to do that, you know, to ask people to have fun within a message.  but I think we were in the right side of the line and, and worked incredibly well and, and became kind of a famous thing out there in the world. So it was, was very fun. The other thing that we did during pandemic that was very much now,  was this idea for a big ATRA called Nicola court side, where, you know, the day before New York wanting to lock down, few of us were in the, in the, at F CB, the F CB office.

Gabriel Schmitt (11:05):

And we were discussing, you know, what is gonna happen? And we saw that LeBron James had given an interview the night before,  when the announced that they were canceling the season and they reported that canceling the season. And if they were to come back would be without fans. And, and the LeBron says, well, without fans, I am playing, we saw that. And we were like, whoa, stats for joy. And we have been saying, it’s only worth for enjoyed for a few years. That sounds like a perfect opportunity. So to speak, to, you know, expand on that message, which is when we, so we created the, the idea of, okay, what if you wrapped all the courts,  the NBA courts with screams and, and had people fans watching the games from anywhere in the world, because the most important thing in sports is, you know, sports in itself nor defense itself, nor athletes themselves.

Gabriel Schmitt (11:59):

It’s actually the symbiotic relationship we think between fans and athletes, right. That’s where the, the, you know, the most is most interesting things are born and, and which, and, and then they did obviously crazy. Um, and, and who had no idea if we’re able to do it, but we, you know, I literally texted my clients on, on, on the API side,  with the idea they said, okay, let’s try it. Let’s go. Um, and, and we started developing it quickly. We went to, and API went to the NBA, they were ready, talked to Microsoft who was their, their tech partner. Um, and the three companies came together and in four months,  parts side was born, which was incredibly quick for such a huge, you know, production,  outtake. And, but it happened. And, and it, and the cool thing was that it lasted throughout the whole season. So court side was there for 120, all the hundred 27, I think, games, um,  for all, for all the NBA. So it was something that was, I think, was back going back to the theme of the, of the podcast, something that we, we literally reacted to what was happening. And we’re able to, to jump ahead and, and bring something to the world that had never been done before on both case on, better things as well. But I think in the court side, even bigger societal way, which is really cool.

Francisco Serrano (13:21):

Yeah. I think that,  the creative of that adapting to, I mean, besides the personal situation that everybody had, you know, facing the pandemic, but not only that, but also the brands were facing also a difficult, critical moment and the creative needs to come from somewhere. And as, as I was,  thinking to myself, I, I used to work for C&A. And I remember that,  advertising was spectacular back in Brazil. Right. You know, Sebastian Aparecido,

Gabriel Schmitt (13:56):

Yeah, yeah.

Francisco Serrano (13:57):

And, you know, Ricky Martin and Gisele Bündchen, and there’s something about Brazilians right. In the creative world. I don’t know. That’s kind of everything is like their personalities and celebrities over there. I remember that…  can you tell us a little bit about that? I mean, why is that?

Gabriel Schmitt (14:16):

Yeah, I’ve, this question was, was asked to me so many times because it is true. I think in the eighties and the nineties, there were some celebrities, some advertising people there that kind of broke, you know, the marketing world and became well known society, like as across society there. And I think that the reason is, I don’t really know why honestly, but what I do know is that Brazilians have always loved advertising. And were always interested in the, you know, the little relief that, you know, good commercials at that point, you know, at that time would give to whatever was that they were watching and also, you know, to their lives, people, people in Brazil were super akin to like jingles and visual stuff. And there was a couple of ad people there that, you know, appeared, you know, one right after the other one hired the other actually, which is Washington Olivetto who honestly made the most out of it and made the most out of, you know, how famous the companies that their agencies were doing work for and starting themselves into bigger, you know, conversations on like late night shows and stuff like that.

Gabriel Schmitt (15:38):

And they were good with, they were good on camera and they were interesting people. And I think, you know, were really good at, you know, speaking their truth, so to speak. And then things, you know, got more, it started becoming famous. And then those, like the, the People magazines of the world, or like in Brazil, Revista CARAS and, and stuff like that, they start to be portrayed on those places. And their lifestyles started being imitated so far from so on. And then they became kind of celebrities. Then few years later, there was this guy who, who used to run Y and R in Brazil. Um, and he became the first,  apprentice host. So he was our first Trump, so to speak,  in, in what pertains to apprentice.  And then he became incredibly famous as well.

Gabriel Schmitt (16:28):

You know, he’s famous there to today. I think he’s still hosted the TV show if I’m not mistaken. So there was this aura there. And when I started almost 20 years ago, now, 18 years ago, everyone in my generation or not everyone, but a lot of people in my generation were all trying to do advertising for whatever reason, the industry there is very, very, very small, but also very strong Sao Paul specifically, where most of the main agencies are, there are a lot of them, there were maybe 20 when I started, you know, so that means you had 20 internship slots. It’s hard. It’s very hard. Which made everyone work really, really, really hard since they were, we were all very young. The competition was pretty, pretty bad, but then a lot of good people were formed. And then, and what happened I think this, and a few of us, you know, came to, you know, left Brazil early in our careers. And I think we kind of paved the way to other people to then said, oh, so I can do interesting things outside abroad as well. So the other people came, came along and all this there’s, you know, we’re all over the world.

Francisco Serrano (17:42):

Yeah. It’s, it’s incredible how, how you find like, matches that just behave in a certain way. And piggybacking on that, I wanted to ask you, in this fast paced world, we were talking offline about the NOW Gen, what it means is that they take pride in instant gratification and they results. Now, what’s your process like when you’re creating a message and coming back to the title over what’s the value proposition that the agency should bring in order to make that instant gratification or the NOW Generation pop and react like the examples you gave in the pandemic times.

Gabriel Schmitt (18:27):

I think that, you know, there there’s, it’s, first of all, it’s very hard because to be reactive, you have to, to have a very good machine and then be thinking on your feet, which is hard on itself already, but it’s something that, you know, the best places and agencies and in houses they have it, they have the, the machine is there that allows us to do things like court side, for example, and way smaller things that you can react quickly and really view upon whatever is going on. On, on the, in, in the world. I think even harder is not to be reactive though. And to, instead of reacting to what’s going on in pop culture is to really shape pop culture. That’s the hardest one. And to do that, you really need to be akin to what the trends are and what it’s not bubbling it up, or it’s bubbling, but it’s not above the surface yet.

Gabriel Schmitt (19:16):

So you can kind of bring it up and, and then make it explode.  That’s much, much harder but when you get to those things is amazing. Cause I think that you start having a kind of conversation with the audience that is even more interesting because sometimes they don’t even know what they want or they didn’t knew they wanted to have that kind of conversation with a brand. But if you start that, you jump ahead of those trends that is we end up creating them, which is great. At FCB, you always try to do messages that are both timeless and timely, you know, timeless in taking Michelob for example, is “it’s only worth it, if you enjoy it,” our platform, we, the brand exists to bring,  to counter balance the world of performance and bring, and remember people that “it’s only worth it,  if you enjoy it.” But that’s our timeless I, you know, platform, but through all that, we bring timely things that, to your point, you know, react to what’s going on in the world, courtside would be a good example of that, or, you know, and  way smaller things than courtside as well.

Gabriel Schmitt (20:21):

So I think it’s about really, really building the machine that allows you to do that, to being reactive, but that’s stable stakes. The harder one is to actually, you know, shape what, what the conversation will be. Um, it’s not always that we’re able to do that at all.  When I say we are not even mean, I don’t even mean FCB, I mean the industry, but sometimes, you know, we get it right. And it’s a lot of fun.

Francisco Serrano (20:46):

Yes. And, and it connects and it goes and people interact and, and make the brands smarter and make a difference. Wow. That’s great. Well, I know you have a very tight schedule, so thank you for that before we close it up. I wanted to ask you if, is there any other message that you want to give out to brands and or professionals dealing with brands with the NOW Generation?  You mentioned courage, you mentioned a lot of things here. What is the key takeaway that they should take in order to, to fulfill that connection with the audience?

Gabriel Schmitt (21:23):

To me, it’s all predicated on partnership. If you are working on a brand and you have an agency, you’ve gotta know that nine times out of 10, the people at the agency are really trying their best to partner with you and to come up with things that will be memorable. And hopefully groundbreaking. I think the more space you give to the relationship, and the more you make sure the agendas are aligned the more you’re gonna get to amazing results. You know, we, I cherish deeply, you know, the relationships we have with some of my clients,  because we went into the trenches together and it’s not easy. You have a lot of tough conversations, even though you like the person, you have to put personal to the side and have tough conversation about the business or about processes and whatnot, but you always end up in a better place than you were before, and you leave the place better than you enter. We’re all partners in this, we’re all on the same things. And there is a world, which again, a lot of agencies prove out there, show out there and can, like I said, in the beginning is really showcasing where the best creative ideas are. They want to bring the better,  the best business results, and then everyone wins.

Francisco Serrano (22:39):

Great. Yeah. It’s interesting. How in the end relationships, good strong relationships between humans. It’s what really makes the world go around, right?

Gabriel Schmitt (22:50):

Yeah, it is.

Francisco Serrano (22:51):

Yeah. Well, thank you very much. Well, thank you, Gabriel. Is anywhere, a good place. If anybody wants to reach out to you,  LinkedIn, is it a good place or?

Gabriel Schmitt (23:02):

Yeah, of course. Find me LinkedIn and message me and I’m happy to talk.

Francisco Serrano (23:05):

Okay, great. Well, we’re gonna wrap this one out. Thank you very much, everybody for joining us, we’ve bee talking to, Gabriel Schmidt. He’s the co chief creative officer at the FCB New York. And, if you wanna learn more about the relevant brands, what they’re doing to connect to the NOW Gen stay tuned and tune up to the next episode. So thank you very much, and we’ll be in touch.