Huge Norte-Americana, Agora Também Em Verde e AmareloJune 13, 2012 - Rio de Janeiro.
View the original article in WIDE Magazine.
Por Tiago Bosco
Com sede em Nova York e há 12 anos no mercado, a Huge, que faz parte do Grupo Interpublic e tem como foco o desenvolvimento de plataformas de negócios e produtos online, sendo uma das principais agências digitais de Design Estratégico e User Experience do mundo, chegou ao Brasil em 2011, abrindo seu escritório no Rio de Janeiro. No país, a equipe responsável pela direção da Huge conta com nomes de peso, como Felipe Memória, sócio; Eduardo Torres, diretor geral; Lucas Hirata, diretor de criação; e Laura Lessa, diretora de User Experience, entre outros.
Para falar sobre a chegada dessa importante agência ao mercado brasileiro, conversamos com o diretor geral, Eduardo Torres. Ele nos conta sobre suas experiências no exterior, as expectativas da empresa na América Latina, a valorização dos profissionais brasileiros mundo afora e muito mais. Confira!
EDUARDO O meu envolvimento com a área digital aconteceu de forma natural, em função de minha formação — cursei Ciência da Computação, tendo também estudado Psicologia e Publicidade. Nascido na Bahia, vim para o Rio fazer um MBA, após uma temporada estudando Administração em Toronto, no Canadá. Meu início mesmo na área digital foi na Globo.com, onde eu coordenava uma área de Desenvolvimento de Sistemas. Construímos as primeiras experiências digitais de programas, como o Big Brother Brasil, novelas e outras plataformas de jornalismo da TV Globo. Entre a Globo.com e o Yahoo!, ainda tive uma experiência gratificante na qual ajudei a construir uma agência interativa no Rio de Janeiro, chamada MPP Solutions, juntamente com alguns ex-colegas da Globo.com. De lá, fui para o Yahoo!, na Austrália, onde fui Diretor de Business Development para Austrália e Nova Zelândia. Foram quatro anos muito interessantes. Retornei ao Brasil com um ótimo desafio, que era implantar a operação brasileira de uma das maiores agências do mundo, a Huge.
by Tiago Bosco
Headquartered in New York and in the market for 12 years, Huge, part of the InterPublic Group, focuses on the development of business platforms and online products. It is one of the major digital agencies for strategic design and user experience in the world and arrived in Brazil in 2011, when it opened its office in Rio de Janeiro. The team directing Huge’s Rio office relies on renowned names such as Felipe Memória, partner; Eduardo Torres, managing director; Lucas Hirata, creative director; and Laura Lessa, director of User Experience; among others.
We talked with Managing Director Eduardo Torres, to discuss the arrival of this important agency in the Brazilian market. He tells us about his experiences abroad, the company’s expectations in Latin America, the value of Brazilian professionals around the world, and a lot more. Check it out!
With a degree in Computer Science and an MBA in Business Management from FGV, Bahia-born Eduardo Torres is the current managing director of Huge’s office in Brazil. In his rich portfolio, he also was a director of business development for Yahoo! in Australia, coordinated Systems Development at Globo.com and helped build the agency MPP Solutions.
WIDE: You have been with Huge for two years now, and recently became managing director of the agency in Brazil. Before that, however, you worked for important companies like Yahoo! and Globo.com. Could you tell us more about your career and about how you got into the digital industry?
EDUARDO: My involvement with the digital industry happened naturally, because of my background - I studied computer science, but I also studied psychology and advertising. I was born in Bahia and came to Rio to do an MBA, after studying Business Administration for some time in Toronto, Canada. My actual start in digital was at Globo.com, where I coordinated Systems Development. We built the first digital experiences for programs such as Big Brother Brasil, soap operas and other journalism platforms for TV Globo. Between Globo.com and Yahoo!, I also had the rewarding experience of helping to build an interactive agency in Rio de Janeiro, called MPP Solutions, along with some former colleagues from Globo.com. From there, I went to Yahoo! in Australia, where I was Director of Business Development for Australia and New Zealand. Those were four very interesting years. I returned to Brazil with a great challenge, which was to deploy the Brazilian operation of Huge, one of the largest digital agencies in the world.
WIDE: How valuable was your experience working abroad? While living in Australia for four years, what was the most valuable lesson you learned?
EDUARDO: I had already had other experiences abroad, such as studying in the U.S.A. and in Canada. However, this last experience at Yahoo! in Australia was extraordinary. I had the opportunity to work at a global company, with a strong position of influence on other markets in Asia and the Pacific, known as APAC. I worked with other markets in different countries, as if they were operating in the office next-door. This was very interesting and allowed me to establish a very rich network throughout the world. Unlike in the western hemisphere, in that part of the world, Yahoo! has a dominant position in many markets, compared to competitors like Google and others. In my position, I had high visibility and access to the latest technological trends and cutting-edge projects in the world. Australia is considered a test market for many products created by the major players in technology, being an English-speaking country with a smaller population. A possible failure would cause less impact than it would in the British or American markets. The Australian culture is not so different from ours; they also have a little of our resourcefulness. It is a culture that’s as welcoming and festive as our own, both in personal and professional life. In addition, they are very respectful about issues like work-life balance and tolerance for differences, even by virtue of the formation and ethnic composition of their population. This all made it a very rich experience, personally and professionally.
WIDE: Huge won a Bronze Lion in the Cyber Lions in 2010, for the Pepsi Refresh campaign, and was included on Advertising Age’s list of Agencies to Watch in 2010 and 2011. In your opinion, what is the great differentiator of the agency in this increasingly competitive market?
EDUARDO: Huge’s main difference is placing users at the center of digital experiences we design. We want to somehow change the lives of the people who use the products we develop. This is our philosophy, and one of the variables that determines the success of our projects, no doubt. Huge is a design company with a focus on user experience. We believe very much in research and strategic planning before we begin to take action. We deal with digital in a more encompassing way—it’s not only a means of communication but it’s integrated into the strategic business models of our clients. As a result, a deep knowledge of our clients’ businesses and their challenges becomes crucial. Our ultimate aim is to create the best digital experiences in the world, to help solve business challenges and exceed users’ expectations. These are complementary objectives and certainly crucial to our success.
WIDE: Recently, Huge opened an office in Brazil, in Barra da Tijuca, west of Rio de Janeiro. What prompted the agency to open a branch in the country? What are the expectations of the company here in Latin America?
EDUARDO: Huge has always had Brazilians working in our New York headquarters. The first was Felipe Memória, who is now a partner at the agency. Another North American partner was married to a Brazilian, so Huge already had emotional ties to Brazil. This fact, coupled with the excellent visibility and economic opportunity of our country, paved the way for our arrival here. Above all this, Brazil has always been seen as a large pool of great talent. The Brazilians in the New York office created this very favorable perception, due to their competence and hard work. Because of this, we already had plans to open an office in Brazil—specifically, in Rio—because we believe in the potential and perspectives of the Rio market, from the standpoints of business opportunity and talent. We also won some business with a large Brazilian company in the financial sector, which hastened our arrival in the country, although it was already going to happen anyway. Our objectives with regard to the Brazilian and Latin American markets are, above all, to deliver work with Huge quality, according to our philosophy. That is what matters most to us.
WIDE: According to Gene Liebel, Huge’s Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, the agency believes there is a demand by large Brazilian companies to create online business in an entirely new way. Do you know what he means by that?
EDUARDO: This is directly related to our way of thinking about digital and our philosophy. These are not necessarily new types of online businesses, but rather a new way of running them and strategically solving new challenges that emerge with an ever more connected world. Digital media should not be perceived only as a new means to extend communication and marketing campaigns. It’s much more than that. Companies want to learn how to think of digital as an effective platform for their businesses that is crucial to their success, and as part of their company strategy, regardless of the separation between the offline and online worlds. We strategically think about digital media in a way that leverages the core business of our clients in innovative ways. There will be increasingly less division between online and offline in the future. Increasingly, both will be equal and indivisible parts of the business model. This is an irreversible shift and many companies in Brazil are beginning to realize the importance of this.
WIDE: How is Huge’s Brazilian team set up and how are tasks divided within the agency?
EDUARDO: One of our major goals is to deliver quality work to our clients and, in order to do that, we want to have the best people on our team. It’s made up of a combination of experienced workers and professional people with great potential, who are willing to participate in global challenges and grow and learn a lot along the way. We’re also focused on training our current employees because some of the areas and disciplines where we work still lack experienced labor, and not only in Brazil. We do rely on the ease of working with other branches of Huge and having access to their resources and expertise. We thought about the setup of the Brazilian team before we even opened the office here. We had a list with some big names in the market that we considered essential for the kickoff of our operation. These formed the initial backbone of the team and helped us continue attracting talent. Today, our team consists mostly of designers – interaction, usability, product, visual and art directors. We also have product and content strategists, project managers, client relationship professionals and market intelligence professionals. We are a very complementary team with complementary skill sets. Our way of operating reflects a lot of this; it is far from the classic "departmentalized" work environment. The training and background of our team is also quite diverse. We have people from seven states in Brazil, in addition to three foreigners. Our design director, Liang Zhang, is Chinese and was raised in Canada. He originally joined Huge’s office in New York and from there, transferred to Rio. We have a production engineer and even a professional librarian on our team; those skills of being a mediator between information and those who seek it are great for working in content strategy. Our diversity is great for our clients, because these different backgrounds allow people to see different angles and solutions for problems and different experiences only enrich the projects.
WIDE: Before Huge arrived permanently in the country, did it perform some kind of research to better understand the digital industry in Brazil? If so, how did this process happen?
EDUARDO: Yes, we conducted studies via our contacts and market experience. Among other processes, we analyzed a number of materials available on the technological and economic scenarios in Brazil, as well as trends that arose in the digital segment in the country.
WIDE: Can you tell us any news about what’s coming next from Huge Rio? Which clients do you currently work with?
EDUARDO: In these first few months of operation in Brazil, we developed very strong partnerships with Abril Midia and Oi, among others. These are some of the cutting-edge projects, but we cannot say so much about them right now. Soon, when they are on the market, they will certainly cause a lot of conversation. I am sure that many of them will become examples of best practices in their industries.
WIDE: Speaking of the Brazilian digital market, what is it like in comparison to the major markets of the United States and Europe? What are our main strengths and weaknesses?
EDUARDO: It is always difficult to compare any other market to the North American market, which is certainly at a higher maturity level than the others, in terms of digital. The Brazilian market has great potential, no doubt. We have shortcomings in terms of data infrastructure, high cost and low penetration of broadband structure and high-speed networks, which influences the development of the industry, to some extent. But even with the difficulties, our market has developed at a rather fast pace. Our population of Internet users is one of the most engaged and active in the world. We actively participate in social networks and are among the largest groups on the planet. As a result of this, even with our current shortcomings, we are experiencing a moment where large—and not-so-large—companies are starting to understand digital channels as a critical and essential part of business success. Some of these companies are migrating to the digital world, whereas others were created as digital organizations and have it in their DNA. Digital is much more than just another channel to extend their communication and marketing campaigns. The Brazilian market is experiencing a moment in which more and more companies are starting to open their eyes to this new reality. We’re past the point of no return, and it is part of a gradual process of market maturity. It will happen naturally and will be guided particularly by the clients’ and advertisers’ perceptions of this new reality of a world that is consistently more dependent on digital.
WIDE: Felipe Memória, one of the seven global partners at Huge, has said,"Brazilian professionals are better than Europeans in terms of digital talent." Do you agree?
EDUARDO: Huge strongly believes in Brazil’s digital talent. We differentiate ourselves with the inherent ability of Brazilians to be resourceful and improvise, which may have been developed throughout our history. This could be due to the size of our population with formal higher or technical education, but also because the current Brazilian population is very young, comparatively. We have an enormous wealth of potential talent. We can and should promote these talents in a more interesting way, actively promoting the development of this industry. It’s really exciting that we can provide our local talent with opportunities right here in Brazil, at an agency the size of Huge. We can provide global visibility and the opportunity to work on international projects in our own country. As I said, we strongly believe in Brazil as a pool of talent and we are counting on the capability of the Brazilians. X