Sunday, September 27, 2009

Erik Vervroegen

With almost 70 lions, Belgian art director Erik Vervroegen is the most awarded advertiser in Cannes Festival, technically tied with Brazilian super-star Marcello Serpa (76 lions). With such numbers and his well-known reputation, he has definitely a space in advertising Olympus. But, moving ahead, we won´t avoid the question: "Is Erik the best advertiser in the world?"

If talent could be measured in awards, yes, we might say he is. TBWA Paris was three times agency of the year in Cannes, all under his rule, against Serpa´s lonely prize in 2000 for Almap. And we are talking about a guy who has made success in different markets, being named the best in South Africa (TBWA Hunt) and in New York (Bozell). Serpa, on the other hand, has worked just in Brazil and always with the best talent since the beginning of his career, at DPZ.

But if you pay more attention, you will see that Erik´s talent has its border. Contrary to David Droga, for example, he has not gone beyond classical advertising. Even in standard print, we can see that works from Crispin Porter or early Kesselskramer have brought much more freshness to the market than the visually stunning tricks from mr. Vervroegen. In film, his commercials for Amnesty International and AIDES have never gone beyond their top awards in Cannes, finding resistance to win respectability at One Show and D&AD. What would be his most particular contribution to advertising, the visual puzzles for Playstation, was not actually begun by him, but by TBWA London some years earlier. It´s not overstatement to say that he has actually repeated formulas. Brilliantly, of course, but never bringing anything real new.

Maybe to avoid this craftsman identity, Erik moved to Goodby Silverstein Partners, one of the most innovative agencies in the world. With his stunning talent together with GSP defiance, he may do real unique work and leave the category "one of the bests" to become the biggest of them all.

Ad Genius 6: Erik Vervroegen.

Countries: Belgium, South Africa, France and USA.

Agencies: TBWA Hunt, Bozell NY, TBWA Paris, Goodby Silverstein.

At Cannes: Almost 70 lions, 2 GPs.

Strong Points: Flawless visual, smart tricks.