The Backpacker Intern

Buena Onda at J. Walter Thompson Argentina

After working in Asia, Europe and North America for well-known agencies like DDB, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, McCann and TBWA\Chiat\Day it was now time to add another big name AND continent to the list; J. Walter Thompson Argentina in South America.

TheBackpackerIntern at JWT Argentina

J. Walter Thompson Argentina is based in Buenos Aires, a humongous city. Traffic is pumping through every street. Going from A to JWT can be quite a challenge with public transport. That’s one of the reasons why they pick up their colleagues with a van. In the morning on day one I was waiting for my van as well. From Recoleta it was about a 40 minute drive (depending on the traffic). Most people were still (half) a sleep but for me it was a free city tour. I saw parks, bridges, museums, artworks and we even passed by ‘El Monumental’ a.k.a. the River Plate stadium. Although the Netherlands painfully lost the final of the World Cup in 1978 from Argentina there, I still enjoyed seeing this legendary landmark with my own eyes.

When I arrived at the office I was welcomed by the JWT-crew including the CEO, Vanina Rudaeff. Her energy was extraordinary. When I asked her why she replied so quickly to the email I’ve sent, she answered very confidant: “I’m just like that, when I think something is great, I do it”. I smiled and told her she’s super awesome.

Mate at JWT Argentina

The JWT-crew dropped me at the creative department where I got a seat next to two Creative Directors, Mathias Harbek a.k.a. ‘Matty’ and Yago Fandino a.k.a. ‘El Maximo’ (pronounce with a strong whisper). We got to know each other better with the pleasure of drinking some mate (pronounce like ‘maté). Mate is kind of a caffeine-rich tea and a well-known flavour and tradition in South America. I had my first mate in Brazil, (where they call it chimarrão). The first sip is kinda weird, it’s very bitter. But, like with more great things in life, if you give it time, it gets better and better.

We talked about the business, creativity, music and the differences between our cultures. One interesting difference I’ve noticed was the way in which Argentinean colleagues greet each other. They all give a kiss on the cheek, even the men. I’ve been to the Middle East where this happens in some countries as well, but still I was a bit surprised in the beginning. Especially when one of my new manly colleagues gave me a big welcome hug and kiss on the cheek haha. Later I’ve learned that this is a gesture of great appreciation, so basically he welcomed me to their clan.

At one of the days we went out for lunch and I tasted my first Argentinian steak. The stories are true. It is; ‘Ricisimo’ (Spanish for ‘very tasteful’). Besides steak, is Argentina known for loving ‘dulce de leche’. It’s a sweet milk-based fluid that they use for deserts but also breakfast. In this restaurant they took it to the next level because they had a massive chocolate AND a dulce de leche fountain.

The Backpacker Intern Brainstorm at JWT Argentina

During my stay at JWT I worked on different projects. Including two pitches. I’m not allowed to say for which brands but as the team has told me, my creative and copywriting skills were very welcome.

Another interesting project I worked on was for Lalcec, an organisation that helps to prevent and deal with cancer. Before I start brainstorming I always dive into the subject and do a lot of research. I’ve lost family members and friends because of this horrible disease and it was pretty intense to work on a subject like that.

During my research I discovered an amazing story from Zach Sobiech. At age 14, Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer which mostly strikes children. Zach decided to make the most out of his life and wanted to create as much songs as he could. One of his songs ‘Clouds’ got picked up and it became one of my favourite songs as well.

You should check out this short documentary about Zach and how the song got picked up. It’s a story that made me realise even more how short life can be and that we should live life to the max. Every. Single. Day. People like Zach give us hope and I hope he inspires you just like he inspired me.

The rest of the days I created ideas for Lalcec. I presented them to Fer Bozzoletti (Strategy Director) and with his feedback I crafted them more and sent the babies to the creative directors and Vanina.

On my last day the guys organised a little goodbye party at the office. It was little, because everyone was super busy so basically it was 5 guys saying cheers and taking a sip haha. They made a local drink for me, which tasted very good; it was a mix of Fernet with Coke. Fernet is an Italian type of amaro and it’s very popular in Argentina. Thanks for the drinks guys!

TheBackpackerIntern with JWT Argentina Crew

Vanina, Matty, Fer, El Maximo and the rest of the awesome JWT-crew, thanks for hosting me. Suerte and hope to see you again!

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