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The development was located in the Buenos Aires’ equivalent of London’s South Bank, a historic area of the city known as Puerto Madero. It even resembled the old wharves on the Thames; the bricks had been brought over from London. But although Puerto Madero was one of the hot, up-and-coming areas of Buenos Aires, it had one big drawback—it was off the beaten path. The complex was by no means in a high-traffic area.
The ad campaign had clear-cut objectives: to generate awareness and drive visitors to the complex. The budget: $4 million.
Get in on the Ground Floor
Heymann and his team were fortunate enough to get in on the ground floor—even before the complex had a name: “We had the opportunity to work with the client on brand definition and on creating the brand image and a brand identity. And, eventually, on how to communicate its existence.” The brand name would become Madero Este. But even as the brand identity took shape, the question of how to build awareness kept nagging at him.
The typical recommendation—and the one that the client was expecting—would have been a comprehensive ad campaign, one that used print, television, radio, and other forms of mass media to say “Come to Madero Este” and tout the advantages of having everything in one place. But Heymann couldn’t help thinking that spending $4 million on an ad campaign would be a mistake. “If you have
You Never Know Who's Watching
to reach 10,000 or 20,000 people, why should you have to produce a commercial or a print ad?” he says. Given its location, he was convinced that no campaign would drive the level of traffic to the complex that was needed. There was too much competition from other malls. He decided that to promote the complex using mass communication would be a bad idea.
He began to explore other ways to communicate the existence ofMadero Este. As he puts it, “I wanted to devote the resources we had to create something, to add something to the product which came from the product itself.” Heymann wasn’t out to create a CBI. Yet instinctively he understood the importance of the product component: The idea has to be rooted organically in the product itself.
Heymann and his agency team began conducting research. Where would the traffic come from? What would be the most compelling reasons to go there? And how would people get to this out-of-the-way location? It was while pondering this last question that Heymann made the leap: Instead of building an ad campaign, why not build something that would literally and physically bring people to the complex? Why not build a bridge? A pedestrian bridge across the river would provide easy access, it would generate traffic, it was just what the development needed.
And then he and his creative team pushed the idea a step further. They recognized that, unlike in many of the world’s major capitals, city landmarks were scarce in Buenos Aires. “In Sydney, you have the
Puerto Madero footbridge, Buenos Aires
The End of Advertising
.the Beginning of Something New
Opera House. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe,” Heymann notes. “Here, we have only an obelisk, just like dozens of other cities have. That’s it. And not a very impressive obelisk at that. It’s shorter than the obelisk in Washington, D.C.”
What if, instead of building simply a utilitarian bridge that would get people from one side of the river to the other, the bridge itself were to be an attraction? An impressive architectural structure that would draw people to the riverfront and the new complex? A world-class structure designed by a world-renowned architect?
And a great Creative Business Idea was born.
Banned from the Boardroom?
If you were a CEO who had requested a new advertising campaign from your agency, and the agency came back to you with a recommendation to build a bridge . . . what would you do? I have known quite a few CEOs, and I know that most of them would like to think they would have embraced the idea. They’re open to great creative ideas, naturally. Who isn’t? But, most of them, in the end, would probably have passed on the plan. By the time the board members had dissected the idea, my bet is that very few CEOs would have been willing or able to sustain that kind of battle—and win.
Fortunately, Heymann and his agency team didn’t have to worry about a board. There was none. The complex was owned and developed by a family-run company composed of the 70-year-old CEO, who was Heymann’s client, and his two sisters. He was the key decision maker. The sisters typically supported his judgments.
When it came time to make the agency’s presentation, Hey-mann knew he had to make the idea as easy as possible to understand. So he kicked off the meeting with the story of Bilbao. He told of how a dying city had been brought back to life, transformed from an industrial wasteland into a thriving tourist destination. He talked about how great architecture had been used to attract people. He