Highways: a community for converse: an audacious publicity campaign in Mexico and Brazil.

Author:Ancery, Paula

Not all publicity campaigns are ATL (Above The Line)-that is, announcements distributed conventionally through television, print or radio. The world of BTL (Below The Line) is growing, and though it already exists in the form of promotions --events at which brands advertise to their audience or are mentioned in fictional stories--it has grown exponentially with the development of digital media. So, it's the case today that many publicists question whether there really is a dividing line between ATL and BTL, arguing that there's only communication.

However, this dichotomy is still in operation, as it explains how some campaigns operate. Take the case of Highways, a BTL promotion developed by the agency La Comunidad (Miami) for Converse, and put into action in cities in Mexico and Brazil.

The campaign consisted of recovering abandoned spaces in big cities. Jose Molla, chief creative director (and CEO) of the agency, explains: "We started by organizing the cleaning people at the chosen points, below the highway overpasses. Then, we transformed these places aesthetically, working together with local artists. And after that, they organized specific events there: city band concerts, art expositions, short films, fashion shows with the most promising local young designers, skateboarding exhibitions, etc. Finally, they donated the spaces to the city, so that the people could continue enjoying them."

This was the way La Comunidad resolved the brief that had been presented by the client, which was "to use color as a celebration of Converse's creative spirit and optimistic attitude of rebellion." From that starting point, the displays were made under overpasses, places that almost by definition were not used except to accumulate garbage. It was about "using the transformative power of color to recover lost areas of the city and transform them into cultural centers for the neighbors who lived nearby."

The campaign, as you can see, doesn't sell anything. It's only an initiative of the Converse brand to position itself close to its target market. "Today, it's much more interesting and effective when a brand makes a project with something tangible to improve the lives of the people, instead of simply interrupting with some publicity message," says Molla.

"We wanted to recover the public space instead of letting it be invaded with cars," says the off-stage voice in the short that presents the case study on the...

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