João Coutinho: “Portugal is super fashionable in the United States, they talk about the beaches, the food and the wine, almost like an undiscovered pearl”

“I only have three color photographs until I was 8 years old, because my father only liked taking photos in black and white. When my stepfather came into our life, we started to have color photos,” says João Coutinho, smiling, in a conversation in which he ends up revealing several details of his childhood, in 70s and 80s, in Porto.

Today he is one of the most distinguished Portuguese creatives, with more than 25 years of career, in Portugal, Spain, Brazil and the United States.

Matilde Fieschi

The house where he was born, near the Boavista roundabout, no longer exists, but João keeps many memories: “It was a house with four floors, we lived on the top floor, my uncles on another floor and my grandmother and aunts, a large community with a garden, was very nice. Then my parents separated and we went to Pasteleira, a neighborhood near Foz, and I went to public school, in Pasteleira, with an experimental mix of the 80s, of different classes, poor and rich kids. My parents were from old families in Porto, more right-wing and conservative, and they married in secret, they were rebels and communists.â€

João remembers political discussions with his parents and talking about the dictatorship and the country’s backwardness. “Public school was important to me and the friends I still have today came from that time,†he says.

The creative still wanted to be an architect, but ended up graduating in advertising. He set up an agency with some friends and, in the early days, the main client was the Indústria nightclub, in Porto, where they made flyers and posters.

Matilde Fieschi

Three years ago, in the United States, he co-founded Atlantic, a creative agency. She has worked for clients such as Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon Prime or TikTok.

He was awarded several times and voted one of the 10 best art directors in the world.

“I see a lot of people here complaining about politics, but it’s only because they don’t live in the United States and they don’t know what bipolarization really is. Conflicts, racial tension, gender tension, all types of tension can be felt in the streets,†says João Coutinho, who finds “scary what is happening in France†.

“New York is the most diverse city in the world, but migrants walk the streets lost. This is something that has gotten worse in the last year and no one is taking care of them. There is beginning to be xenophobia even in New York, where there was none before. Here in Portugal you also see huge demonstrations of xenophobia against Indians and people from Bangladesh. You see that Trump in 2016 really changed the world,” he concludes.

Matilde Fieschi

The creative man from Porto has lived in New York for 10 years, but before that he spent almost three years in São Paulo and, between 1999 and 2002, he was in Madrid – “in the time of Aznar [ex-primeiro ministro espanhol]when Spain was booming in Latin America†.

“I’m not at all a supporter of the nostalgia of ‘Portugal used to be’. Last year I lived in Lisbon for 10 months and a lot of people said ‘Lisbon is very different’. I think it is, but there are good things and bad things. In general, it is much better and people have to be open-minded about it,†he says.

“Portugal is an incredible country, really incredible. The worst part is the salaries, which have not evolved. They are very, very bad. I think we are still in the time of ‘doctors and engineers’, it has to do with a narrow-minded, tiny business class, from a time when there weren’t many doctors or engineers, just two or three†, says the director of art.

“Portugal is super fashionable in the United States and I know several Americans linked to advertising and art who live in Lisbon. They talk about the beaches, the food and the green wine. Everyone sees the country as a super safe country, super friendly people, beautiful and historic places, almost like an undiscovered pearl†.

Matilde Fieschi

“I’ve had advertising campaigns that failed, but good ones too. I was part of the team that launched Euromilhões in Portugal 20 years ago, we were the ones who created the concept ‘Creating eccentrics every week’ ’ and they continue to use it. In Brazil, in 2012, I ran an organ donation campaign in the Northeast to appeal to football. ‘they will continue to fight for your club even after you die’ and there was a huge response, the number of donors increased. Not long ago they invited me to speak about it in Boston in front of 4 thousand people, 12. Years later, it was really funny.”

At the moment, João Coutinho’s agency has TikTok as a client and loves it. “I already liked TikTok before working with them, but we love working with them, they are five-star clients, true partners.†.

Paulo Alves

Geração 70 is not a podcast about politics or economics, nor about arts or science. It’s a loose conversation with today’s protagonists who were born in the 70s. The generation that is in charge of the country or on the way. Here we talk about expectations and frustrations. Of dreams come true and those that were lost. A first-person portrait of the indelible passage of time, a journey from the 70s to the present day led by Bernardo Ferrão


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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