Advertising’s very own genius
At the Cannes Lions Lion Of St Mark Interview with Marcello Serpa, the legendary art director and creative was asked by Phil Thomas, CEO of Lions Festivals, about the apparent disappearance of humour in advertising.
“Just after 9/11 I was talking to a friend about agencies that specialised in dark humour,” Serpa said. “He said he thought that sort of humour would probably not be in favour after what had happened on that awful day. And he was right. The reason is that humour is dangerous and, from a very practical point of view, it’s also very difficult to find humour that resonates with a global audience.”
Asked about the fact that so many companies now parade their eco-friendly credentials, Serpa demonstrated his own robust humour. “There’s definitely some hypocrisy going on here,” he said. “I mean if all the companies that claim they want to save the planet are really doing so, who the f*ck is actually destroying it?”
There were various testimonials from industry figures, including ex-colleagues David Lubars and Andrew Robertson of BBDO. “It’s the simplicity of his ideas combined with painstaking attention to detail that marks him out as special,” Robertson said. “And he’s so fast! Often before the client has finished explaining the brief, he’ll have a sketch ready.”
“He’s as close to a genius as anyone in the advertising industry,” Lubars added. “And he is, in my opinion, as good as any creative in the history of this industry.”