The man of the social causes

Special thanks to Mireia Rafanell and Victoria Asseff for translating to english the interview. 
Read it in spanish here.

I am Argentinian , but I feel like a  citizen of the world. I am international consultant in creative and strategic planning,  in social marketing and corporate social responsibility programs. I have developed programs, campaigns, activities and content that have had a positive impact on the companies and organizations via the use of the media, the use of alternate and new technology. I dream of a better world and I invite everyone to join in helping make this dream come true.

When you were 35 years old, you were already responsible for the creative area of Ogilvy Argentina, one of the most creative agencies worldwide. Where did you begin working in this area?
I began over 25 years ago in a very small agency doing everything and anything like everyone else. Working hard, sometimes more than 12 hours per day, and in some cases even up to 48 hours without sleep to finish up with an account. I worked in the Contrapunto agency in  Argentina and then walked into Ogilvy & Mather, one of the most renowned agencies in the market. After that, I became the Creative Director there and continued working morning, noon and night until I reached a spot in the Honor Roll as one of the 10 most creative offices within that global network.


For over 15 years, Guillermo Caro has been advising local organizations & companies as well as international organizations; and making conferences and giving classes. He is Director of CSR Strategy and Cause Marketing at Phylos, founder of Advertisers Without Borders, co-founder of, promoter of and responsible for hundreds of social causes & campaigns.

"I don’t believe in having a big ego. I always thought that it is equally important the opinion of the President of the company just as of the viewers of the campaign"

¿Is it hard to regulate the ego of a publicist when things are  going well?
I think that thanks to my personality I have been able to keep it under control. Basically, I don’t believe in having a big ego.  I always thought that it is equally important the opinion of the President of the company just as of the viewers of the campaign. Because I do campaigns with celebrities I try not to feel like one. Prizes and awards reaffirm that you are in the right place in the market and part of the race. Sometimes when you appear in the media with great headlines and photos, that can make one feel like they are like a leading actor but in the end this is still just a profession, a job.

¿When did you create your first social action activity?
I remember I was 17. It was my last year in high school and I wanted a scholarship for some of my classmates who were of limited family income to be able to join the rest of the graduating class to the End of School Trip that we were planning. So in order to raise funds I organized, along with Esteban Vargas and a group of schoolmates, a concert in the main stadium of my city and we were able to get different companies to donate the missing amount in order for the whole graduating class to attend the trip. We got one of the most important national rock bands of the moment to provide a concert in order to raise the necessary funds.

And it worked, I guess...
All the money that we raised from the concert came from the tickets being sold out , even with people outside, to cover the costs;  the musicians, managers, expenses and taxes… didn’t with money leftover enough for all of the classmates to attend the trip..

And from there... 
Already in college I majored in social marketing and political campaigns, thinking that the  last one was the tool that could generate changes. Being in the first agency I had the chance to develop an expertise in that regard, and it seemed to me that it was in slow motion. At that time, a client offered to make a donation, and we created a campaign to join organizations and invite the society to participate with immediate results. Thus began my passion for the public good!

In 2001 you quit commercial publicity to focus entirely to the publicity with social purposes and social responsability. How’s that change? 
It was a transition. It started several years before donating campaigns in my free time, and from the agency along with my co-worker Daniel Comar, and a group of very solidary people. When I quit my career in agencies to focus myself on the public good, I managed to support myself with half my time working on commercial campaigns, and the other half donating campaigns for social purposes from Ad-honorem, the organization I had created years before for that purpose.


From that social vocation you founded in 2002 the international network Advertisers without Borders… 
The network was born from a very rewarding conversation I had with Peace Nobel Prize Muhammad Yunus where we exchange ideas and I take this opportunity to tell him about an expansion model of Ad-honorem in another countries. He makes me realize that what has to expand is the concept, the spirit of that idea, like he did with Grameen and the microcredits in the world. 

You thought about it... 
On my return from the trip I heard on the taxi’s radio about some Firefighters Without Borders. I always said we were like firefighters because the priority of our campaigns were about disasters or emergencies related causes, so there was born the network Advertisers Without Borders. 

What can you tell us about Muhammad Yunus... 
He is nice, calm, patient, you can feel he has inner peace, and he is a good listener… I think those and other gifts give him wisdom.

  • Dear readers, at this point of the interview, wouldn’t you like an online community in which there are different , easy, and varied ways to cooperate jointly to leave your positive mark in the world?

Guillermo, related to that you founded -along with Patricio Boyd- OurMark. What’s it about? 
It’s about an international online platform created to motivate millions of people to multiply good deeds along with the organizations for social means. The main focus is to measure the footprint or positive mark we leave in the world. At that time I thought that just as there is a footprint that measures your ecological impact, we could have a handprint or mark for sizing and sharing your impact in the community and the planet. It has a very interesting use of new technologies and gamification levels, progress, loyalty programs and future recognition of your achievements.

"Advertisers without Borders was born from a very rewarding conversation I had with Peace Nobel Prize Muhammad Yunus"


Campaigns to add volunteers to Advertisers Without Borders:

“I want you!" Campaign. Well known advertisers invite you to join them.

“Hero" Campaign: You don’t have to be a superhero to help. Click on the image to watch the video →

“Hero" Campaign: You don’t have to be a superhero to help. Click on the image to watch the video →

"If you do nothing, start now! If you do something, do more! If you do enough, inspire others!"

With a list of different solidarity actions we can do…
Something very new that my partner proposed was to quantify the actions by TOPICS, and in that order appears the organizations that carry forward the good actions. The numbers and polls say that people want to participate and we have noticed that even more when we proposes them something concrete to do or give. The common people understand faster when we focus on what we want to change or achieve. It is a nuance that generates more engagement from now. The main formula is: If you do nothing, start now! If you do something, do more! If you do enough, inspire others!

  • In we can find proposals as: donate money, donate food, donate airline miles, donate used items, make solidarity kilometers, do volunteer …
    Leave a positive mark here →


How does Ourmark work? 
You have to generate your own account (Profile) where  (you record) are recorded all your positive actions in an attractive interactive infographic that you can share. Each time you participate in an action, the beneficiary organization sends you a certificate 2.0 for you to share on social networks. That way, causes, campaigns, needs and possible solutions to problems of society are spread.

It is a great opportunity for brands to improve their social responsibility, right? 
Exactly! And a concrete, possible, measurable and, above all, sustainable opportunity. Ourmark is a geolocalizable platform which also each user indicates which are their interests and demonstrate their commitment. Therefore, we are a media or bridge between those who want to participate and companies that want to attract not only consumers but  committed citizens.

“It is increasingly more talk about social responsibility in governments. As citizens, we should promote this kind of trend to be installed and then perform”

And governments should do more marketing with cause or CSR and less promises...
I believe governments should no longer apply the marketing cause. It is increasingly more talk about social responsibility not only in corporations and universities -  as I left raised nearly a decade ago in a note that talked about the social responsibility of the shareholders - but also governments.

They are talking increasingly of implementing social responsibility practices for public institutions and this will slow but steady growth. As citizens, we should promote this kind of trend to be installed and then perform.

"People who have less look at you and give you a smile right away, when your neighbor doesn’t greet you at the elevator."  You have the feeling that sometimes we are more in solidarity to strangers than with the people we know... 
From my 25 year career I have spent the last 15 to advising organizations, companies and international institutions; and giving lectures and classes at conferences, universities and posgraduate programs, and I could see the different profiles and publics along with them. There is everything. You can not generalize. Maybe it becomes fashionable a subject or a cause and then another in the media, but we also see how millions of strangers (unknown people) make their good silent action for someone far away or someone very close.

  • Look at some figures:

“Maybe it becomes fashionable a subject or a cause and after another in the media, but we also see how millions of strangers make their good silent action”

And in that line of unknown people doing his good action we have AWB and Ourmark... 
The model of Advertisers Without Borders promotes advertisers colleagues to empower most needed and closely organizations. I always ask: What worries you in your neighborhood or city? where do you think your campaign can be more efficient?

The idea of OurMark is based on geolocation which makes people and their interest topics get closely. It is a model GLOCAL; global reach and local impact. We want to share the stories and altruistic actions to promote by example and inspire with the virtue. We believe that to show these noble actions will generate and multiply the effect we seek.

“Perhaps we can not reverse certain scourges and problems, but we can stop or reduce its expansion”

It is inevitable that however much we do, companies will continue to operate its production in China, governments ruling for themselves and whoever is poor, likely to remain poor...
I have developed action and communication strategies for all type of causes and topics with local, regional and /or global reach. Always with the aim to see concrete changes on issues such as school integration, driver education, health, malnutrition, ecology, citizenship ... But there are other more complex as child labor, arms control, human trafficking, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, domestic violence or of gender, abuse of all kinds and so many issues that appear to have no end or solution and scale rapidly.

I found the answer while presenting a strategy about the culture of peace and non-violence: perhaps we can not reverse certain scourges and problems, but we can stop or reduce its expansion which is enough at the time in the world in which we live.

  • At this point in the interview, you can see some of the social campaigns Guillermo has been responsible for:

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Five millon people die because of the cigarette every year. I invite you to join the crusade Don´t light up. When a loved one lights a cigarette, stop him. There is no smoker without a light. - Jackie Chan.

# GivingTuesday ™ (#GT) - #undiaparadar is a global movement to multiply good deeds of people. Using the # to share this idea  with our families and friends looking foward  to create a new global day of giving.

"Basta Ya" is a campaign of the argrentinian NGO Conciencia Solidaria, in defense of life and pure water. Through the music video "Basta Ya", famous artists contributed with their voices to a strong claim from  thousands of citizens around the country: the need of a national law to ban open pit mining metelífera and radioactive sky.

TV show "Lean on me" issued in Panama. One of the challenges faced on recent years was beating 30 seconds of advertising beacuse many times campaigns are competing with programs and movies that promotes opposite messages and values.

Who are your influences?
I am inspired by the life example of Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi and Mother Teresa. And more personally, my parents Gina and Jorge, David Ogilvy who encouraged my dream in a very original way, Neil French that gave me trust and support and Muhammad Yunus who gives me hope with facts.

Recommend a song... "Dream it, Do it,"composed, written and performed by my daughter at age 11 and "Felicidad" (Hapiness), composed and performed by my son at age 7


What virtue do you value most in a person? 
Sincerity, however uncomfortable it's  the truth that someone could share you. 

Against what default struggles? Listening when I listen.

What do you like least about our current society? 
It does not see that it is self destroying. I feel it’s the only conscious species of its possible extinction and does little to reverse the situation.

A whim... That a patron supports me so I can triplicate what I do.

A place... Greek Islands.

A web... It was born in a group of young people that I joined since the beginning of the idea to its development and implementation.

In another life you had been... Jazz pianist.

I believe in... God, in its various forms and ways.

One tip that someone has given you... "Step by Step" and "everything comes".

A failure... My first fundraising for school scholarships.

What did you learn from that failure... Patience, humility, teamwork, inspire, perspire ... To believe in failure as the first step to success.

A quote... Let’s be the change we want to see! (Gandhi)

Thank you very much, Guillermo.