2 Minutes With ... Leonardo Arcoverde, VP & Creative Director at McCann Health N.Y.

On 'Social Bullets,' cyberbullying, Chevrolet and Onix Day

Say hello to Leo Arcoverde, an advertising pro with 10+ years of experience in consumer and health. He started his career in Brazil as an art director, working in small agencies and big-shot groups like Havas, Publicis and McCann, before coming to NYC in 2019 to work at Area 23. He is now VP, creative director at McCann Health. Leo has worked with a diverse range of brands, including cars (like Chevrolet, General Motors, Toyota, Peugeot, Yamaha Motorcycles), food (Danone, PepsiCo, Pizza Hut, Coca-cola), banks, credit cards, OTC products (Neutrogena, Tylenol, Nicorette) and healthcare (AstraZeneca, GSK, Eli Lilly, Invitae, Neurocrine, GE).

Recipient of D&AD, CLIO, Cannes Lions and One Show awards, Leo has served as a jury member for The New York Festivals, PHNX Awards, Shorty Awards and Adobe Behance reviews.

Outside of work, Leo is a geek, amateur photographer, comic strip maker, wannabe writer, frustrated guitarist, and spear fisherman. Bonus fact: Leo's first college degree was a BSc. in Physiotherapy.

We spent two minutes with Leo to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.

Leo, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Northeast Brazil, in a city called Maceió. It was a great place to grow up close to the sea. Google it, it's totally worth seeing the wonderful beaches. I now live in the never-stopping New York (actually in Jersey City, across the river).

How you first got interested in health.

Well, my first degree was in physiotherapy. I've always loved the complexities and marvels of the human body. Now even more, because if you think about it, advertising is all about culture and behavior. So in essence I can work with knowledge about both body and mind. And then I got this opportunity to come work at Area 23 ... it just clicked.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on, and why.

Hah. That's a tough one. Hard to choose. But I can say working with car advertising gave me a few crazy experiences—like having a lap at full speed on Interlagos with a former F1 pilot. Or shooting a film with live animals (including Tarantulas!) inside a studio with a lot of mud and a truck. Or having an extra day at a giant music festival as part of a promotional campaign.

A recent project you're proud of, and why.

"Social Bullets" was very impactful to me personally. We had the opportunity to witness first-hand accounts of how cyberbullying affects our teens and provide an experiential tool to keep the awareness high. I suffered bullying for part of my teenage years, but things now are just crazy scary, since information is widely spread in a matter of minutes.

One thing about how health is evolving that you're excited about.

People are bombarded with information from various sources, and we've seen a lot of the same. Health is exciting because it is evolving at a fast pace. We're blurring the lines between content, innovation and that idea of traditional health advertising. It's purposeful, educating and empowering us to make healthier choices for our lives.

Someone else's work, in health or beyond, that you admired lately.

Oh, I am enjoying the work from the team lead by Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley (Womb Stories, Trash Isles). Great examples of how great craft and unusual approaches work to become ground-breaking campaigns. A set of friends are also on my I-want-to-be-like-that-when-I-grow-up list: Thiago Fernandes, Widerson Souza, Eduardo Tavares and Fabio Rodrigues (with many other equally talented people). There's a beautifully crafted campaign about sugar consumption ("Lil Sugar") by children that goes beyond awareness; it's educational, and entertaining—and the passion in what they do shows across that work.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

This year, I was flabbergasted by the originality and thematic of the Oscar winning Everything Everywhere All At Once. I wonder how the pitch for that movie was. Some scenes there are so absurd that I cannot imagine how that went. It's refreshing and it gave me one extra reason not to think an idea is "un-pitchable."

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

I'm a 90's kid. Pearl Jam will always be my favorite band. The lyrics. The sound. What they do out of music. Blast it loud from my headphones and that keeps me focused when crafting layouts. But I also have a special place in my heart for a Brazilian artist called Alceu Valença. He's one of the most complex and rich composers I've seen around. Started mixing psychedelic rock with local sound and cultural elements from northeast Brazil. His philharmonic special concert gives me goosebumps.

Your favorite fictional character.

I like complex layered characters. Not entirely good, nor fully evil. Darth Vader has been one of my favorites for years. Maybe he's not the most complex character in the world, but it's a great journey development for a fictional character. The other favorite I have, tied with Vader, is Sherlock Holmes—from the books. Very much a layered personality. Both are no.1 for me and impossible to pick from.

Someone worth following in social media.

I am actually trying to get away from social media—or at least reduce a lot my time spent there. Social media is very full of BS and divisive, although great for memes and GIFs if you can filter through. I am not sure how to answer that. I do follow a lot of low profile photographers, artists, designers, film makers, musicians (hey, maybe I do have an answer: Sean Tucker. Great photography chats in less technical/gear stuff but more about the philosophy of imaging). But I am getting more satisfaction outside of social (at least for my mental health and repertoire). So my answer would probably be: follow diverse stuff, search what you like—collectives, people, areas, subjects, whatever—filtering interesting people will come naturally. Try minimizing negative stuff that only put you down (but keep informed about them somehow). Get out of social to find inspiration elsewhere. 

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

I think my greatest strength might be adaptability. Although my craft has been brought up in meetings with peers.

Your biggest weakness.

I still get a quite bit frustrated when a selected idea doesn't get done the way the creatives on the team thought of it. I don't get attached to ideas, but when they are picked and decisions are made to weaken them instead of making them stronger, it does get me irritated. I understand the why (sometimes), but still cannot avoid the upset and it shows. I have to work on that.

One thing that always makes you happy.

The sea and how beautiful it is underwater.

One thing that always makes you sad.

People being unfair/hateful/hurting other people. Especially those with power. It seems that people and politics are becoming more and more like that Beatles song title: I, Me, Mine.

Something people would find surprising about you.

That I have impostor syndrome every other day. I constantly ask myself if I know what the hell I'm doing. LOL

What you'd be doing if you weren’t in health.

I would probably either be a graphic designer or an artist of some kind (illustration, photography, who knows), but still working with imagery and creativity. I'd hate to have a bureaucratic profession.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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