Nizan Guanaes

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Nizan Guanaes (born in 1958) is one of Brazil’s leading communications entrepreneurs and the chairman of Grupo ABC de Comunicação, ranked as 20th among the biggest Marketing Communications groups worldwide by Advertising Age – May 2010, and headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil.

Influential Brazilian[edit]

The Financial Times (June 2010) profiles five men who can each claim their part in Brazil’s rise – from running the country's own capital market to Rio de Janeiro's selection as the 2016 Olympic host. Nizan Guanaes is one of the selected few and views himself as an ambassador for his country. The chairman of Grupo ABC, Brazil’s largest advertising and marketing services group, believes the expansion of ABC abroad is helping to promote Brazil and transform the country’s economic role. “Brazil is an emerging market,” Guanaes says. “We need to be seen as an emerging culture. We have to move from being a commodity country to building global brands from Brazil.” Dividing his time between New York and São Paulo, Guanaes remains committed to further expanding operations, particularly into businesses with a digital focus. In the past two years, Grupo ABC has acquired two Californian agencies, Dojo and Pereira & O’Dell (the latter voted California’s best digital agency). An eager participant in the Clinton Global Initiative and attendee of major events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Guanaes argues that Brazil should seize the opportunity for growth and development. “Brazil wants to know, and be known,” he says. (Financial Times) [1]

Social Responsibility[edit]

Nizan Guanaes and Felipe Massa in support of UNICEF's reading campaign in a public school in São Paulo, Brazil

In addition to being a globally recognized prize-winning advertising professional, Nizan Guanaes was named “2008 Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young and “2009 Communication Entrepreneur of the Year” by IstoÉ Magazine. His unwavering dedication to social causes in his home country has led to a nomination by former U.S. president Bill Clinton to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting (CGI). In Brazil, Guanaes is also a founding member and president of the UNESCO's Association of Entrepreneurs, which fosters the Organization’s initiatives in education, human rights, social inclusion, sustainability and preservation of world heritage sites.


With a degree in Business Administration from the Federal University of Bahia, he started his career in Advertising as a copywriter. Internationally recognized for his prominent role in ad campaigns, such as “Hitler” for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo - the only Brazilian film tagged by Advertising Age as one of the best commercials in the 20th Century, Mr. Guanaes has increasingly gained recognition for his business enterprises over the last few years.

His first company was founded in 1989: he surprised the advertising world by making use of the financial market to raise funds to buy DM9, a local company then ranked 94th among Brazilian ad agencies, and bringing it to São Paulo. With his partner João Augusto Valente, Nizan brokered a R$1 million injection of capital from Grupo Icatu in exchange for shares of the new company. In 2000, DM9 was already one of the three largest advertising agencies in Brazil and worldwide award winner. At that point, it was acquired by the Omnicom group’s DDB Worldwide for US$111 million, the largest business deal ever done in the Brazilian advertising market. The agency had such an exponential growth, by far above any other in the financial world, that the story reached the front page of the New York Times.

In order to fulfill his non-competition agreement with the DDB, Nizan Guanaes took off for new frontiers instead of taking a sabbatical. With lifelong partner João Augusto Valente and a group of investors, he founded the first free-of-charge internet portal in Brazil, iG. A year later he was elected “Businessman of the Year” by prestigious e-business magazine InfoExame, interviewed by the New York Times, and featured on Forbes cover page. All thanks to his turnaround of iG, from start-up to market leader. The portal, with an original start-up investment of US$20 million, was later sold to the Brasil Telecom group for US$150 millions.

Grupo ABC[edit]

When the non-competition period finished in 2002, Mr. Guanaes made a comeback to his core business with a new sharp focus: to build up the largest marketing Communications group in Brazil. A golden opportunity arose: facing serious problems in Brazil, DDB invited Nizan Guanaes and João Augusto Valente to once again join and lead DM9DDB Brazil, which had fallen in the rankings from third to sixteenth. It became the first agency of the newly born YPY group – its name was changed to ABC only in 2007. A fast administrative turnaround was necessary, and Mr. Valente became DM9DDB Brazil’s CEO. Today DDB Brazil is among the four largest agencies in Brazil and has just been recognized as “Agency of the Year” at the Cannes Festival for the fourth time (1998, 1999, 2005, and 2009).

Also in 2002, the group founded Africa, an advertising agency with the distinguishing business and service characteristic of working with only a select handful of large clients, now headed by Márcio Santoro and Sérgio Gordilho. Today Africa is ranked number 7 among the Brazilian top ten agencies - a record growth. The agency has an exclusive framework. Africa operates with only thirteen clients, while its competitors achieve the same revenue with a much larger number of clients. With an exclusive team assigned to each account, since 2002 Africa has kept its original model.

The third ABC’s company was MPM, a brand name the group acquired in 2003 by U$1 million – previously named the Brazilian leading agency for 20 years. Its relaunching was followed by the arrival of Loducca, a hotshop, in 2005. In 2009, Loducca and MPM merged: LoduccaMPM. With the consolidation of the Advertising operation, Mr. Guanaes headed for the second step of the route he planned to take. Instead of only owning advertising agencies, the ABC announced in 2007 its below-the-line and marketing services operation, with companies specialized in different areas such as events, direct marketing, and point-of-sales marketing.


  1. ^ "The power set: five influential Brazilians". Financial Times. 2010-06-28. 

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