It’s with the belief that childhood is the most creative stage in a person’s life that Chilean Cristián Lopez, creative director and partner at Kinder+Lab, approached the launch of his studio.

He and partner Rodrigo Lledó started in 2011 with a dream—no clients, a savings account, two computers and an apartment.

“It was a hard time because our idea was so idealistic,” says López.

In a way, embarking on that project returned them to their own childhoods, when everything was possible.

“In the context of a large studio, it is difficult to bring about changes,” says López. “We felt that with a personal project we could go faster and explore what we really wanted.”

A year later, the studio Kinder+Lab was born.

“Kinder” means “children” in German. “We used this concept to create a space where we could release our creativity without any bias [just like children do],” he says.

“Lab” refers to a laboratory-like methodology and analysis that the team applies to projects.

“It is a workshop approach carried out with the client, to not only address creativity, but to also understand the business side in depth. It is our own method, which stems from our experience working with other networks and our desire to find something disruptive,” says López.

Both concepts are expressed in the firm’s professional, minimalist logo.

“As the name was based on a playful spirit, it was redundant for the agency’s image to have the same tone. We created the logo when we were entering the market and wanted it to convey a sense of seriousness,” says López.

The simple but clear logo immediately reminds the viewer of the periodic table and manages to do that with just the slightest wink.

‘The Return of the Legend’

One of Kinder+Lab’s recent major clients was beverage brand Gatorade, who came to the agency when it was looking for a localized version of its worldwide relaunch on the eve of its 50th anniversary in 2016.

“We took this idea of turning 50 and paired it with acclaimed Chilean triathlete Cristián Bustos, who had retired several years before and also was turning 50. Months before the competition, we challenged him to come out of retirement and train to run the Ironman 70.3 in Pucón, one of the most renowned races in South America, of which Gatorade is a sponsor,” says López.

Kinder+Lab created a documentary about the triathlete’s life, and his return as a legend. They filmed Bustos as he trained throughout Santiago de Chile, in areas similar to the geographic conditions of Pucón, and as he competed in the race.

One year later, Gatorade wanted to honor another champion triathlete, Mark Allen, by using technology to pit him against Bustos. Kinder+Lab recreated a race run by both of them in the past through projections installed in the Ironman circuit, as seen below.

Inspired by Chilean Folklore

A turning point for Kinder+Lab was the studio’s relationship with Canal del Fútbol (CDF), a soccer-specific channel that airs Chile’s championship soccer matches.

Patricio Ampuero, creative planner at CDF, said the channel chose to work with Kinder+Lab because of the agency’s attitude and knowledge of the industry.

“They arrived knocking on the door without waiting for an invitation or call, which showed confidence and conviction. They also had a vast amount of experience working with sports brands. The way the studio regarded soccer and the brand complemented our entire team’s point of view.”

In one piece, Leyenda (Legend), Kinder+Lab created a spot inspired by folklore.

“We accepted the challenge of distinguishing the identity of the channel from that of U.S. sports chains that also compete here in Chile. We got much deeper into the Chilean identity which relates to folklore and to the popular passion for national football,” says López.

In the piece, the soccer teams’ mascots and emblems represent the beginning of the sport in Chile— as English ships arrived in Valparaíso at the end of the 19th century. The characters are inspired by Lira Popular (Popular Lyre), a literary movement where graphic illustrations accompanied the poetry of the time.

“The decision to turn to the Lira Popular technique emerged from us seeking out an idea that we felt was very much ours; very Chilean,” says Ampuero. “Later, when researching the most popular graphic expressions of our recent history, this had the style we were seeking.”

Another significant project with CDF was Abrazo de Gol (Goal Hug), which started as a video clip reuniting Chilean musicians Pablo Ilabaca, Piedropiedra and Camilo Salinas.

“We wanted to make a campaign that was cross-sectional, [that represented] our viewers. We determined music was the method to communicate a message that can reach any type of person,” says Ampuero.

Beer company Cerveza Escudo is another client that made a mark in the studio’s portfolio, particularly the work Kinder+Lab did around the Latin American arts and music event, Frontera Festival, that aimed to bring the brand closer to a younger demographic.

For this campaign, Kinder+Lab worked with special-edition beer cans featuring four Chilean illustrators: Newfren, Tito Calvo, Alvarejo (Álvaro Arteaga) and Tomas Ives.

“We made a documentary that incorporated each artist’s technique, and we also had a co-branding deal with Converse for which the four artists illustrated special-edition sneakers using the branding [of their beer can] as inspiration,” López says.

Another milestone for Kinder+Lab was the studio’s work for U.S. sports brand Under Armour, whose strategy in Chile was based around a partnership with popular football team Colo-Colo.

“The studio is an expert in this subject and we were challenged with turning around our relationship with fans,” says Sergio Costabal V., senior marketing manager of southern South America for Under Armour.

Kinder+Lab was asked to market the launch of the club’s new jerseys, and created two spots around the meaning of Colo-Colo (the name of a prominent Mapuche cacique), which explained to fans what it takes to become players of the professional team.

“With these videos, Kinder+Lab succeeded in exciting fans while creating a historical thread that connected everything,” Costabal says.

That same year, the studio also worked with Eterno Legado (Eternal Legacy), on the launch campaign of the 2017 Commemorative Colo-Colo Jersey. This evoked the club’s first jersey from 1927, which was launched in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the death of founder and captain David Arellano, who died playing on the field while on tour.

“It is a very powerful story. The entire club was built around this myth and legend,” says López.

For the celebration, the jersey and a millenary seed of the araucaria, a native tree of southern South America, were wrapped in biodegradable packaging.

“The araucaria is a symbol that represents Colo-Colo as a native chief. This seed brought a message with it: to be planted so that its roots kept the legend of David Arellano alive,” says López.

Tapping into Chile’s Creativity

Kinder+Lab is currently working on traditional advertising productions, and also is focused on creative and educational projects targeted to children.

“The goal is to generate landmark projects that stimulate children’s creativity. It is important to change the paradigms of education. Today, being creative and different are strategic values and, for a child, it’s a plus,” says López.

After years of working in his native country with fellow creatives, López believes Chile has a unique creative imprint to share with the world.

“As a country, we have a particular vision we can offer to a region that is, in turn, very creative. Our contribution is that of a country with a solid maturity, stability and democracy, prepared to display creativity from all perspectives, not just in advertising,” he says. “There is this development in Chilean cinema, which has brought home two Oscars in less than three years. This identity is emerging in Chile, and we want our local brands to reflect this as well.”

Version español: Creative Review: Kinder+Lab

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