We arrive at Milano Malpensa Airport after our afternoon meeting in the Diesel flagship store. We check in for our flight to Dubai and we make our way to the duty free area, to buy some magazines at the newsstand. “I want to buy Time magazine, Wallpaper and Vogue Italia,” I say to Maarten. “Can you see whether you can find something on the new BMW i3 concept car in the car section?”

Meeting Gustavo Aguiar - PUNK - CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands
Meeting Gustavo Aguiar – PUNK – CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands

A few minutes later I’m heading to the checkout counter with my magazines where Maarten is already waiting. “I couldn’t find anything on BMW i, but I found the new Donald Duck to give me some storytelling inspiration,” he says with a smile.

As we walk out of the newsstand I see somebody we know, browsing through the international newspapers. It’s Gustavo Aguiar, whom we met last year in São Paulo and who helped us to build our network with opinion leaders in Brazil. He owns an ad agency, but he’s also involved in several other cool initiatives. I wonder what he’s up to now? “Gus, how’s life?” I say, while putting a hand on his shoulder.

He turns round and a smile of recognition appears on his face. “Guys, what are you up to?” he replies.

“We’re in the middle of our Around the world in 80 brands project,” I say. ”We might need your help when we get to Brazil. What are you doing in Milan?”

Gus puts back the newspaper, as if he’s lost interest all of a sudden. “Well, I’ve started a new, very cool initiative,” Gus says. “It’s called PUNK. It’s a way of thinking… why do we do the things we do in the way we do them? Like the Punk movement in the ‘70s, it’s an expression of nonconformity and opposition to mainstream culture.”

“Wow, what have you been smoking,” I joke.

Gus smiles. “After several years in the advertising business,” he continues, “I began to see there’s an alternative way of communicating brands, products and ideas. The world is changing fast, technology is breaking down all the limitations and former rules no longer apply!”

Gus pauses for a few seconds to let his words sink in. “To think in a PUNK way, is to feel, to look around, to understand the new rules and develop something that stretches beyond the obvious. Something that provokes a conversation.”

“Shall we walk? I don’t want to miss my plane,” Gus says. “What is your gate number?”

“We have another two hours,” I say, “but we can walk you to your gate. It all sounds very conceptual. How does it work in the real world?”

Gus smiles again. “In the real world we work with artists: painters, sculptors, poets, photographers, etc,” he says. “Artists are more receptive to trends and movements. Historically they have been at the forefront of all changes in society and they have the skills to materialise their feelings.”

“So to work with them,” I say, “to work in a PUNK way, let brands explore new possibilities for communication?”

“Exactly,” Gus replies. “And to challenge brand elasticity beyond the traditional boundaries. Actually, that is what PUNK stands for, Publicity Under New Knowledge.”

“And has it been successful?” I ask.

“For our client Triumph we first developed a campaign in the same way any other agency would,” Gus says. “Then we developed a PUNK campaign where artists interviewed our client and us, and then created their own version of the campaign. The photo shoot they created was something different and brilliant! A completely different angle for looking at the brand. And why? Because it was not done by advertising people or people from the brand who are limited by brand guidelines and commercial boundaries.”

“This the Punk revolution of the ‘70s all over again,” I say. “Opposition to mainstream culture in branding and advertising.”

“It’s not a revolution,” Gus replies. “It’s about showing brands that there is another way. Showing them there is a world outside the guidelines, the rules and the way we are used to doing things.”

In the meantime we arrive at the gate where Gus is boarding his plane to São Paulo. “I’m really sorry we can’t continue this conversation,” Gus says. “Boarding is starting in a few minutes.”

“Yes, I’m sorry as well,” I say, “because this is really getting interesting.”

“YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE,” the voice from the speaker says. “TAP FLIGHT 1233 TO SÃO PAULO HAS A DELAY OF TWO HOURS.”

Gus looks at the announcement screen above the gate, then at his watch, and then back at the screen again. “Great!” he says, ”That means I have enough time to tell you the rest of the story. Come on, I’ll get you a coffee!”

© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands


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Tags: Global Storytelling Campaign, Anouk Pappers, Maarten Schäfer, Around the World in 80 Brands, Around the World, 80 Brands, Around the World in 80 days, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, cool storytelling, third party storytelling, creating talk value, meeting Gustavo aguiar, Gustavo aguiar, Gustavo, aguiar, PUNK, punk art, punk art brazil, meeting PUNK, publicity under new knowledge