Campaign India Team
Jan 1, 2024

AI will help writers command a premium: Anselmo Ramos

The co-founder of Gut was part of a panel which discussed his advertising journey, plans for the next five years, and more...

From left: Kainaz Karmakar, Anselmo Ramos, Raj Kamble and Ashish Khazanchi
From left: Kainaz Karmakar, Anselmo Ramos, Raj Kamble and Ashish Khazanchi
Anselmo Ramos, co-founder, Gut, is currently in Mumbai and on 27 December, he was part of a panel which discussed his advertising journey, the most recent of which was Gut winning ‘independent agency of the year’ at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier this year.
Ramos, who believes in setting targets as a way of manifesting them, printed T-shirts for the team with the words ‘I want to win a Grand Prix’ written in reverse, so the first thing they see in the morning in the mirror is the message.
“It’s all about setting a goal and then working your ass off to achieve it. Oprah said most people don’t get what they want in life, because they don’t know their goal. So that drive and having that goal is important. Selling ideas to clients is hard, so you need to love this business,” explained Ramos.
“Love is our engine. Love our ideas, love the industries, love our brands and love each other,” he said.
Bravery was among the many topics touched upon during the panel, which was moderated by Ashish Khazanchi, managing partner, Enormous, Kainaz Karmakar, chief creative officer, Ogilvy, and Raj Kamble, founder and chief creative officer, Famous Innovations.
Explaining his approach to working with ‘brave clients’, Ramos said, “When we had just founded Gut, we were very rightful and against holding companies. We only worked with brave clients. Then after three years, we realised we were alienating a lot of potentially brave clients. So we created a ‘bravery scale’ for clients. We marked from 0-10, where 0 is completely dominated by fear, ten is there’s no fear.”
He stated that the average answer clients had was that they were seven or eight, but the organisation was at three or four. 
“That difference is the bravery gap. Usually, people think they’re braver than the organisation they work for. Our job is to close that gap. From our experience, it takes a year to move one point up so you have to be patient.”
Next five years
In 2020, Ramos famously tweeted that Gut’s goal was to win the ‘agency of the year’ at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in the next five years, which was achieved in 2023.
After this, Gut was sold to tech company Globant. In 2019, Droga5, an independent agency founded by David Droga was acquired by Accenture and the agency was renamed Accenture Song.
Ramos was asked about his learnings from the Droga-Accenture deal, to which he said:
“Gut is not Droga and Globant is not Accenture. First of all, we are Latinos. My personal opinion is that Droga is not what Droga used to be, because the focus is on Accenture Song. From the outside, it looks this way. In our case, I’m not going to Globant. I’m still leading Gut. Everything is the same. We are completely independent from an operations perspective and that’s my focus. Only time will tell. Three years from now if we’re doing great work, then it’s (the deal to sell) a brilliant idea.”
When asked about what his vision for the agency’s next five years is, “Gut was number eight at the overall rankings for the Cannes International Festival of Creativity in 2023, with only seven offices. We were ahead of agencies like Dentsu, Leo Burnett and AKQA which is insane. Those agencies have hundreds of offices. The new impossible goal is to make it to the top three network agencies in the Cannes ranking. “
He added, “When I was talking to my partner about this, he was more conservative and said let’s aim for the top five. My initial aim was to be the top agency and so we negotiated, I compromised and came up with this top three prediction. Just the fact that we’re having this discussion is the beginning of everything. It’s very hard and for the next four years, we’ll have to work our ass out. I’m already feeling the pressure because it’s not that far.”
Creative or a businessman
With Ramos now having founded his agency, looking at the business side of things is under his purview. Kamble asked him about how he divides his time between business and creativity.
“It’s half and half. I started as a 100% creative and the first part of my career was focussing on being the best writer I could be. I didn’t know anything about business. Then, little by little, you realise everything is connected. You’re selling an idea to a client because the client has a business challenge or business opportunity. When you understand that, everything is connected. Your ideas are completely linked to the business of the client. It becomes a process,” said Ramos.
Selling process
Ramos stated that he doesn’t like going to clients with a presentation of many ideas and instead believes in the big idea.
“We like to present one idea. We have had a lot of success going to the client with just one idea. If you go to a client with seven brilliant ideas – there’s no way you have seven brilliant ideas. You’re also giving the client too many options. Creative ideas can’t be like fast food. When you go with one idea, it means you’ve understood the problem, spent some time thinking and chose the best one. We’ve won a lot of pitches on the back of it,” he said.
He added, “Sometimes, the client wants options, but we don’t have them for the client. Sometimes, this approach doesn’t work and can backfire. Then, we show options. You’ve to go with a lot of conviction and like it.”
On 'good' clients and 'bad' clients 
Ramos added that the agency sees clients as partners and so they take a lot of time at the beginning of the relationship to assess these partnerships.
"We would get an RFP (request for proposal) from clients, and we would send one back. We ask a lot of questions. We have sent like 20  questions, things like: 'What’s your favourite ad of all time, what kind of advertising do you admire? Do you realise why our name is Gut?' We need to get to know each other. When you do that you get the right client. Then you become partners, and in the best cases, you become partners in crime. In many cases, you become friends because work is life and life is work. We tend to create very deep relationships with our clients," he added.
Dealing with lawyers in the creative business
Ramos claimed that the agency 'loves lawyers' and claimed that 'if you don’t have to talk to your lawyer, maybe the idea is not good enough'.
He explained, "In the 60s in New York, Lowe created a traditional creative team of a writer and an art director. At Gut, a great team is a writer, an art director and a lawyer. I know our lawyers by name, the creatives know them."
He added, "We had the lawyers talk about the basic laws to the creatives so they know about what’s possible and what’s not. If you really think about ‘brave’ ideas it’s all about risk assessment. There are three levels of risk: high, low and medium. When there's a high-risk idea, we talk about it and the work gets talked about. Even with ‘high-risk’ ideas, by talking to a good lawyer you can find ways to bring it down to ‘medium’ or ‘medium-high’ risk. There’s always a way to minimise the risk."
A much-asked question to creatives is the role of AI and how it’ll impact the industry.
Offering a word of caution to writers, Ramos said, “When it comes to AI, a lot of people are afraid of it. My opinion is that, if you are an average writer, you should be very afraid. ChatGPT and Gen AI will take the job of an average writer, but if you’re a good writer or a great writer, you’ll be fine and can command that premium. The average copy will look the same because of AI, the human touch will be given more value. We need the human touch now more than ever. So AI will make us even more human.”
Early days
While Ramos was working with Lowe Lintas USA in 2004, he met Raj Kamble. The duo were the only ‘foreigners’ in the agency’s office at that time. They connected instantly.
Kamble recounted how he knew back then that Ramos would end up creating his agency and selling it.
“He was living in Miami and the apartment was called Laxmi Bhavan. That means nothing other than cash. So I knew at that time that he’d end up with a lot of money,” joked Kamble.
Calling Kamble his mistress at work, Ramos said, “I was a writer and Raj was an art director. I had an art director partner while working in the New York office, but every time his team was out, I would instantly work with Raj. That’s how we created a piece of powerful work for Stella Artois. They were coupon ads which were ‘20% more’ to show the brand was truly expensive.”
The piece of work went on to win a Gold Pencil at the One Show and a Lion at Cannes. After winning the Gold at the One Show, Ramos penned this copy.
The duo also explained their venture, a website called That website had cheap places to stay, where one can print a portfolio, information about immigrant lawyers and more.
The talk ended with him giving a piece of advice to those looking to go the independent route.
“Ask yourself three questions – what kind of talent you want to attract, the kind of work you want to do and the kind of clients you want to work with. Then everything is a consequence of those answers. In our case, we were looking for brave clients and that was the filter. I said 27 ‘nos’ to clients in the first year of Gut. I didn’t have a salary then, wasn’t paying myself and I was back to flying ‘coach’. My CFO said that we’d have to say yes to clients at some point. I said, sure, but we need to say yes to the right one,” he surmised.
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