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Getting to Know... VMLY&R's Fred Saldanha

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Creative agency VMLY&R New York recently announced the appointment of Fred Saldanha to lead creative for Colgate-Palmolive as global chief creative officer on the account.

Joining from Arnold Worldwide, he's racked up almost 30 years of experience at agencies like Y&R, DDB, FCB, Grey, Wieden+Kennedy, Ogilvy and Isobar in multiple territories.

Below, Saldanha reflects on his new position, what his career has taught him and how he thinks the industry could improve. 

Tell us about your new role…

My most immediate role is to lead the Colgate-Palmolive brand evolution around the world in a more consistent and engaging way. The goal of becoming more present in people's lives is clear—we are building a presence that goes beyond the product and extends into a more emotional bond.

There is a huge space that the brand can fill, and I have no doubt that Colgate deserves this place more than any other. There is every reason for the brand we trust the most to be the brand we love the most.

How has your background equipped you for today…

Like many other Portuguese (I'm from Lisbon), I left my country early in search of new things. Interestingly, my first agency was Y&R Lisbon where I joined as a copywriter intern in 1991. Since then, I've worked in markets such as São Paulo, London, Boston, Detroit, and New York. When you choose to work in such different markets, two things happen...

First, when you enter a new market, it's almost like starting your career over from scratch. You have to prove yourself all over again. You become an eternal underdog. Second, you become more prepared for the different, for the new, for the weirder. This is perfect for shaping the way we think, create and lead.

If you weren't in your current industry, what would you be doing?

Well, 10 years ago I took a sabbatical of almost two years from advertising. I almost died of boredom.

Tell us something about your professional life we don't already know…

When I was ECD at Ogilvy Brazil, the creative department created Fred Friday in my honour, which was basically an excuse for everyone to dress up in a bizarrely formal way and have a three-hour lunch every Friday. Fun AF.

What's your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Travel to places I can't pronounce.

What's the work achievement you're most proud of?

The work we did for FCA Brazil (Fiat Chrysler Jeep). Our relationship went beyond the usual client/agency partnership and focused on creating new business models, designing innovative products, and driving a brand transformation from the inside out. It was a relationship with many successes and awards, including a gold Innovation Lion at Cannes.

How do you recharge away from the office?

Inside a movie theatre or outside in nature, but always close to the people I like the most.

What's your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

The uncertainty of our profession. It is this uncertainty that will help us be better, change faster and have more fun doing what we love to do.

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