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  • 28 February
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Inspired by Crafts

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Inspired by Crafts

Art Directing Photography: Luiz Sanches

The Gunn Report lists Luiz Sanches as the world's most awarded Art Director. 

Luiz joined AlmapBBDO as an Art Director over 19 years ago and is now Partner and General Creative Director. It's no coincidence that in 2010, the Gunn Report listed AlmapBBDO as the most awarded agency in the world. 

We asked Luiz about his work as an Art Director, his relationship with photographers, and how AlmapBBDO maintain such a consistently high quality output, with photography at its heart. Take a look at some of the best examples of Luiz Sanches art direction campains below, and then, submit your own into the D&AD Awards. 

VW Truck Driver, AlmapBBDO, In Book, 2013

Everyone says ‘print is dying’. Paper is dying, but the image isn’t.

Luiz Sanches:

In Brazil we have a tradition of photography in advertising, especially in print. With historically low literacy, print was somewhere we could synthesise a whole idea into something that didn’t just depend on language. So, every Art Director here is trying to be impactful with just one image.

Nowadays a lot of people are using illustration, but that’s become too obvious. For example, Dumb Ways to Die is brilliant, but predictable. I’ve seen too many Art Directors using illustration. Some people think it’s cool to only use brand new channels, but the most important thing is the idea. There always has to be something very surprising.

Art Directing Photography: Luiz Sanches Getty Images: Ali, AlmapBBDO, 2013
Getty Images: Ali, AlmapBBDO, 2013

Ali for Getty was the best example – it’s only a print ad, but you can use that idea to explore different channels. You can post it on social media, do a TV spot... You can keep doing executions using the same idea. The challenge nowadays is to find an idea to build a story on top of.

I think now it is more difficult because everyone has a device they can produce things on, digital cameras, Instagram; everyone can play with the facts. In the past, doing something beautiful was more important than telling a story. Now a non-professional has beautiful pictures, but to produce emotions, that’s the difference between a pro and an amateur.

The AlmapBBDO way

We have a studio here at the AlmapBBDO office, with all the resource here to experiment. We have around twenty people here working with images. It’s very unusual, even in Brazil, to have so much production resource. Of course there are some photographers who know how we work, but we experiment in-house first, then go to the photographers.

The way we present to the client is unusual. We always present in a final way, sometimes with models. We want to see the sparkle in the client’s eyes. We only present one or two ways, not five ideas. It’s a risk, that’s why planning is an important tool here. We get the client to agree on the line and then come up with the campaign.

Luiz Sanches D&AD The AlmapBBDO Creative Department
The AlmapBBDO Creative Department

We can spend our time keeping people, rather than trying to get new clients.

I’ve been here for almost 19 years, and almost all of the clients were here before I came. These long-term relationships bring a partnership of ideas. It gives you freedom, room to experiment. It’s good because we can spend our time keeping people, rather than trying to get new clients.

They know we understand the business, and they know the quality you’re trying to implement. So we’re not afraid to experiment. But it means you have to bring something new every year. We have a lot of people that have worked here for a long time, but we always try to bring new talent. Junior talent is the key. You have to be careful of becoming old-school.


With Havianas – the whole idea is that feeling of emotion when you’re putting your feet in a flip-flop. Every Havaianas idea captures the cool Brazil, not the one we live every day, but the Brazil that people want to be in.

Art Directing Photography: Luiz Sanches, AlmapBBDO, Havaianas Ink,
Havaianas Ink, AlmapBBDO, 2009, Wood Pencil

How do we use the craft to tell the idea? Well, we always have the product in the centre of the image. And it has to be related to Brazil, or the explosion of colour that is Brazil. The execution is a part of the idea, it relates to the craft. There’s no recipe here, it’s something very organic.

Luiz Sanches, Havaianas Window, AlmapBBDO, 2009, Wood Pencil
Havaianas Window, AlmapBBDO, 2009, Wood Pencil

When we come to the photographer we already have something in a second stage. If you have illustration and photography as part of the idea it works, if you’re just doing it to look pretty, then it doesn’t. If you don’t need some elements take them out, if you can’t do something in the most beautiful way, take it out.

From Love to Bingo

Getty Images 'From Love to Bingo' took six months and the whole sequence was done in-house at AlmapBBDO. We had the idea to tell a story using Getty Images pictures. We started writing the best story, then searched for the images to tell the story. Sometimes we would go down one route and find there was no way out.

Watch 'From Love to Bingo': Getty Images' Photo Flipbook Love Story

The challenge was to do something very unique. We presented it almost in the final stage to the local client and, thankfully, they loved it and then showed the global client. It was awarded in every show worldwide.

More recently we’ve done the same project but with film - '85 Seconds'. I can tell you that ‘From Love to Bingo’ gave more work, but it was easier, whereas ’85 Seconds’ created more problems. Using photography, the picture is very quick, you don’t see the detail. In film there’s motion so you can compare images together, so it was a challenge.

Watch Getty's '85 Seconds' Film: A Love Story Told in Parallel Video

At the end of the day you’re talking about the quality of Getty Images. You have to show the quality of the work.

VW Trucks

The client, VW Trucks, always felt a bit left out from creative advertising. They wanted to do something really good to get attention, but didn’t have the budget of the car brands.

Volkswagen Customised Trucks - Egg Box, AlmapBBDO,Wood Pencil, 2009
Volkswagen Customised Trucks - Egg Box, AlmapBBDO,Wood Pencil, 2009

We had the ideas of doing customisations; because you can customise trucks to your needs. So we came up with the custom boxes campaign. 

We created everything - everything you see was in the shot, there’s no Photoshop. The idea is to do just one shot. So we painted the boxes, and produced everything before the shoot. It captures the moment of something real, trying to bring beauty to real things.

Volkswagen Customised Trucks - Beer Box, AlmapBBDO, Wood Pencil, 2009
Volkswagen Customised Trucks - Beer Box, AlmapBBDO, Wood Pencil, 2009

Having something so creative is unusual for trucks, so the campaign ran in every media here. As a result the client is now leading the market in Brazil. After the first campaign they started asking for more – they raised the bar. So now every creative wants to do trucks, whereas a few years ago every creative wanted to do cars.

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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