LONDON: Planners at agencies can be guilty of playing it too safe, according to a prize-winning strategist who has urged his colleagues to show greater ambition in future campaigns.

Luis Toledo, JWT's strategic planning director for Latin America, was speaking in London at the launch of the 2015 APG Creative Strategy Awards, which take place every two years, having flown in to share the story of the agency's 2013 winning entry.

He emphasised that planners needed to connect at a more senior level on the client side. "Sometimes we're little Indians," he said, "but we need to have a high level of conversation with the most important people."

And when doing so it was crucial they knew what they were talking about. "To be successful you need to be well prepared and to believe in your idea," he declared. "Bravery is an attribute we all should pursue."

As he outlined the context in which the strategy for JWT's inspirational Banco Popular campaign in Puerto Rico was developed, Toledo likened the challenge to asking the Rolling Stones to rewrite the lyrics to 'Satisfaction' and promote the new song to number one in the charts to help market a bank.

Toledo's team elevated the initial tactical brief to address a bigger problem in Puerto Rican society – welfare dependence – and reconnect with the bank's slogan of "Propelling progress".

A short documentary film on this subject formed the centrepiece of the pitch to the bank, which saw an opportunity to reconnect with the brand essence, reconnect with the people and grow the economy of Puerto Rico.

Toledo still had work to do, however, in persuading renowned salsa band El Gran Combo to use their song in the campaign. Describing the initiative as not a campaign but a "fight", Toledo did not take no for answer and eventually secured their involvement at the last moment.

The theme for the APG's 2015 competition is "Strategies with Influence", with entrants being asked to show "how the strategy evolves with the changing circumstances of reality".

Data sourced from Warc