pssst... What´s up, Jef?


How are creatives and storytellers doing while Lockdown? I asked some of them. Today: Jeferson L. Cocate - Advertiser, Challenger. Matchmaker. Doer. A Brasilian in Bavaria.

Who would have thought that love would bring a creative from São Paulo to Upper Bavaria. Well, that's a whole other story, which we'll tell elsewhere. Maybe. All you need to know is that Jef made his way from Rede Globe in Brazil, the second largest television station in the world to Ketchum in Munich, where I was able to see Jef in action for the first time. Then he went to MAN and to Serviceplan. Jef worked for brands like Beck's, Capri-Sun, Bang & Olufsen and Bosch. And sometimes he converts a shopping cart into a barbecue mobile with and for friends. Bringing a bit of Brazilian spirit to Germany. Welcome Jef.

Jef, creatives are pretty limited at the moment. One day is almost like the next. No chat in the agency kitchen, no party. No spontaneous ideas on the way to work. The few steps between bedroom and kitchen are simply too short to get some inspiration. How do you work these days? How do you look for ideas?

It may sound crazy, but I've discovered completely new qualities in Lockdown - and new worlds. On the one hand, there is my little daughter's very own world. Every morning she shows me that little people have their own system of order and that it's not a matter of course to put on shoes, for example, the way I imagine. There are also other ways. Somehow this reminds me about situations at work. As a creative, I often quickly have a clear vision and idea of how to solve a customer problem. But that doesn't mean that my client may follow it or that it is the only idea that exists for solving that problem. There are always other, maybe even better solutions. The reason why dialogues and resilience are keen. - And then there's our mouse.

You work for big lifestyle brands and corporations. Are you telling me you are inspired by a little mouse?

Inspiration is perhaps the wrong word. The mouse inspires me to think. We have a pet mouse living with us for a few weeks now. I know, the latest fashion - at the moment - is to get a puppy dog to trick the lockdown. In our case, it turned out a little smaller. My daughter is thrilled with the mouse. And so am I.

Actually, the mouse is annoying. While I watch Netflix comfortably in the evening, the mouse flits through its little hutch, rustles around and runs tirelessly on its hamster wheel. Yet somehow it seems very human. In our constant stream of information and communication, we as humans somehow never come to rest – like a mouse.

And I'm fascinated by this little animal´s world, as it sticks strictly to its own rhythm. Four hours of running and eating. Four hours of sleeping. Four hours running and eating. Four hours of sleeping and so on. A completely regulated life – and it looks like a perfect setting the mouse is happy with. Aren’t´ we in a similar situation? So, my questions are what are our best rhythms and what´s our perfect setting for life?

Do you feel constrained and limited as a creative today?

Spatially we are limited, yes. We can not travel and I miss visiting my family in Sao Paulo, for example. On the other hand, I'm quite happy to have two extra hours every day as I don´t travel to work anymore. Work is at the kitchen table. This gives me extra time for more sports. More time with my family.

But I miss spontaneous meetings with friends. I miss parties. Although in Germany - in contrast to Brazil - people rarely meet spontaneously, even before or without Corona. For Germans, visiting friends is somehow a "meeting". You make an appointment, invite people, plan the visit, prepare yourself. And show up on time. Always. In Brazil, you just get together. That's it. Anyway, this pandemic destroys spontaneity and lightheartedness. And that´s a pity.

But there are also benefits. I'm currently more connected internationally and networked with creatives around the world than ever before. It doesn't make a difference whether you are on a video-call with a colleague from Munich or friends and creatives from New York or Buenos Aires. In this case Corona boosts our creative possibilities. And clients benefit from it.

Creatives are often asked about their tricks. Do you have a creative technique with which you always pull something new out of the hat?

Get a mouse. Otherwise, I don't have any tricks. Well, one advice: Find people who inspire you. Weird types, characters, unusual people. (While we, Jef and I, are talking and drinking our coffee-to-go on the street, an old gentleman walks by who looks like a yogi. Long white hair, white thin beard down to his belly. He's dressed all in white and even though it's a maximum of 3 degrees Celsius, he's wearing open-toed Birkenstock sandals. All white. Jef looks over at him and smiles.). These can be quite spontaneous encounters, even online, even not among people, but with peripheral content of an usual idea, widening something one had in mind. Where one idea begets another and together ideas become even bigger and better and eventually gets room to come to life as well. Sorry, this is another advice: after almost ten years in German, do what most Germans wouldn’t do, prototype, put it out even if in beta-phase, but be beta. So you and your ideas (might) grow.

Finally, we must talk about my particular favorite topic: Storytelling. What is your definition of “Storytelling”? And do you see this as a hype for now or will Storytelling as a communication technique gain importance in the future?

Most people talk about storytelling in formats and media. There's the trench debating whether print or TV is dead and whether it's worth telling stories in mass media at all. Then there's the faction that only knows storytelling in relation to social media discussing the arrangement of posts or carousel ad carts as “Storytelling”.

In my opinion, this all falls to short to define "storytelling" in marketing. Whenever we think only in formats and media, we limit ourselves tremendously. As creatives we should think much more broadly. Let me give you an example. Last year Skol, Brazilian beer brand of AbInbev and main sponsor of the Karneval in São Paulo, helped to ensure that the festivities aren’t dampened by South-American’s rain season at the beginning of every year.

In the 'Giro na Chuva' (Spin in the Rain Campaign), Skol hired a plan using technology with an innovative and environmentally ethical method to induce rainfall to ensure that the festival is not disturbed by any rain. The first time this technology was used in an ad campaign – and a special form of their ongoing Storytelling around the Karneval. Isn´t that great.

Storytelling is at the heart of every form of communication - it shows us the brands’ cores through core stories that together shape the brands. And in doing so, it frees us to tell in familiar and conventional formats. When understood this way, storytelling is one of the most powerful tool of creativity.

Oh, and by the way, this year at carnival time, Skol rented an helicopter pouring out ice cold water - to disperse crowds, people standing to close together An ice-cold salute to Corona. Fits wonderfully with the way we Brazilians drink beer. Namely: ice cold.

Jeferson L. Cocate has helped Serviceplan to become the #5 Independent Agency of the Decade in the Cannes Lions Creativity Festival. His contribution and work has been recognized at The OneShow, New York Festival, Red Dot, ADC, LIA, Webby Awards, Eurobest, Effie, Golden Drum and Lürzer’s Archive. As a passionate account manager with solid experience in institutional relations, communications and marketing, he does creative consulting and agile project management. He hangs around with other creatives such as Ian Gabriel or Tyrone Van Heerden. And he always fights for creativity first. Always. Contact:

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