Marcello Serpa and the Scottish, Portuguese, Brazilian, Japanese, Hawaiian flip-flop

“We make the best glass in the world. Your job is to make the best advertising.” – Arthur Houghton to David Ogilvy.
Marcello Serpa

“We make the best glass in the world. Your job is to make the best advertising.” – Arthur Houghton to David Ogilvy.

Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum and great advertising and design doesn’t exist without a client willing to embrace and trust in an agency’s vision.

Marcello Serpa and AlmapBBO started with one client that trusted them. 17 years later, the footwear brand is more globally renowned than ever before in the company’s history.

Here is some of that history. 

The first pair of Havaianas were created in 1962 by a Scotsman named Robert Fraiser. The name comes from the Portuguese word for “Hawaiian” and the design was inspired by Japanese Zori sandals, originally created out of fabric straps and rice straw soles. To this day, all Havaianas have a textured rice pattern as a testament to their origins. To prevent imitation in the 1970s, they launched the slogan “Havaianas. The real ones”.

Originally Havaianas had white insoles with coloured outsoles, but a new trend emerged in the 1990s: people began inverting the sole to face the coloured outsole upwards, making it look like a single-coloured sandal. Havaianas’ response was a line of eight one-colour sandals named Havaianas Top. The range has since expanded to around twenty colours.

In 1998, with the World Cup in France approaching, Havaianas introduced a line bearing a small Brazilian flag to show support for the team. Since 2003, a free pair has been included in every Oscar nominee’s gift bag. In 2004, Havaianas created an 18-karat gold sandal encrusted with diamonds, in partnership with jeweller H. Stern.  

Today, Havaianas can be found in more than 60 countries and are the most popular flip-flops (or slops, as we say in South Africa) in the world. This is undoubtedly thanks to Marcello Serpa and AlmapBBO, whose memorable advertising campaigns have built an unmissable brand with an energetic and colourful personality synonymous with Brazilian culture.

Watch the Talk with Marcello Serpa