Next Creative Leaders 2022: Mellina Fontoura & Paula Keller Perego

By Laurel Stark on Dec 13, 2022

"If you sat with us at a meeting, you would find an incredibly aligned creative team. But If you sat with us to have a beer, you would see that we are really different from each other."

Every year around this time, we announce a new class of Next Creative Leaders. And as the Co-Founder, I get the honor of reflecting on and finding the words to introduce you to our latest class. Over the past eight years, Next Creative Leaders has come to mean talent and impact to me. But this year, the word that is circling our 2022 class is legacy. We highlighted a handful of our winners this year so you could learn more about them as individuals and read their stories.

Mellina Fontoura & Paula Keller Perego
Associate Creative Directors at GUT São Paulo


São Paulo


Santos & São Paulo, Brazil

SEE Mellina's & Paula's ENTRY

How did you end up working in advertising?

Mellina: My first job was actually illustrating for a school book publisher. My first clients were teachers and the briefs were to illustrate page borders to make Math look more fun. After a while, I started my first internship at a small advertising agency, fell in love with it, and went down that path.

Paula: My story in advertising is quite boring, actually. I started from the bottom, working at my college student-agency as an intern and took it step by step from there. It was a steady-crescent-growth thing rather than a breakthrough.

What do each of you admire most about the other?

Mellina: Besides being my work partner, Paula is one of my best friends, so I could name a few qualities. But I sure admire how hands-on she is, her strong personality, and the "dont take shit home" attitude.

Paula: Mellina is also one of my best friends, so there's a lot I admire. To name a couple, I admire how she isn't afraid to be vulnerable and how resilient she is.

What is something about your partnership or dynamic that would surprise people?

Mellina & Paula: If you sat with us at a meeting, you would find an incredibly aligned creative team. But If you sat with us to have a beer, you would see that we are really different from each other. You would probably be wondering "how do these two get along?" But we do. Inside and outside the meeting room.

"If you sat with us at a meeting, you would find an incredibly aligned creative team. But If you sat with us to have a beer, you would see that we are really different from each other."

What about your families, upbringing, or culture has shaped you in your career?

Mellina: No one in my family has any connection to advertising, so I always find myself explaining once again what it is that I do. But my mother was always very creative in her own way and that certainly inspires me. My father is definitely my biggest supporter. He keeps all the drawings I've ever done in my life, knows all the clients I've worked with and sometimes even calls to tell me that he has an idea for a campaign that could help me at work.

Paula: My parents traveled a lot when I was young so I stayed at my grandparents house. My grandfather had an insanely huge library and he encouraged me to read a lot. So, from an early age, I was introduced to new universes and possibilities through books, and I think this sparked my passion for creativity and writing.

What’s the piece of NCL winning work you’re most proud of and why?

Paula & Mellina: SponsorShe for sure. This one warms our hearts. Mercado Livre is known to sponsor male soccer teams and it was the first time sponsoring a female team. So we created a project to sponsor all the girls in Brazil who want to play soccer. This is really special because we made a lot of little girls' dreams come true. Whenever we're feeling down, we search the campaign hashtag and see the girls' posts. It always cheers us up.

What real world problem keeps you up at night, and how would you solve it?

Mellina: If I could help solve a problem in the world today, it would be related to the importance of taking care of the mental health of young people, especially women. I believe advertising has the power to shape habits and thoughts, and it could be very powerful in helping teenagers feel more comfortable in their own skin rather than reinforcing sexist beauty standards.

Paula: I think most of the problems are rooted in patriarchy. And, if I knew how to solve it, I would for sure be pitching this idea asap.

What do you wish more people around the world knew about Brazil?

Mellina: I would like people to know that Brazil is a huge and very diverse country and this is our greatest wealth. And maybe not even us Brazilians can say we really know Brazil, because there is so much to see, hear, and feel around here. It’s worth more than a single visit.

Paula: That here is the best place in the world. Period.

What is at the top of your “pitch this till it happens” list?

Mellina & Paula: We have this uncanny dream of shooting a film in space. Who knows! The sky isn't the limit.

Who is inspiring you right now?

Mellina: I'm a big fan of Jessica Walsh's work. We were recently at a talk she gave at GUT and it was really inspiring to hear about her creative process.

Paula: It has nothing to do with the industry, but Alex Honnold - the guy who climbed El Capitán without ropes or safety equipment. I was amazed by his determination and persistence. When I watched Free Solo, it inspired me so much in all areas of my life, including, of course, my work. And a year later after I watched it, he gave a talk at GUT and it was such a privilege to hear him. (I don't want to be an apple-polisher, but yes, GUT provides us with incredible talks.)

If you could go back in time, what would each of you say to yourselves on your first day as a professional creative?

Mellina: Your opinion always matters– even if you have to say it more times than your male co-worker to be heard. Talk louder.

Paula: Just take the damn portfolio course. You don't have to prove yourself to others by always choosing the rougher path.



Check out all the Next Creative Leaders of 2022!



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