Paco Olavarrieta has joined d expósito & Partners as a Partner and Chief Creative Officer. The minute we found out, we offered him the opportunity of a Q&A with HispanicAd.com. Here, creative guru Paco Olavarrieta speaks about the U.S. Hispanic Market, Creativity, Total Market, the present and the future of our industry, salsa dancing, red wine and more.
Where is the U.S. Hispanic Market today and what are the creative challenges right now?
The Hispanic Market is a moving target. It changes all the time. One of the latest trends is a General Market agency bringing in a Hispanic unit to do the whole enchilada, which is the case of Anomaly with Budweiser, and Weiden + Kennedy with Budlight. (Ironically, this is the way this market started way back). Other agencies are incorporating Latinos among their American teams to have a more multicultural pool as Droga5, Crispin or TBWA are doing; and in some cases, Latinos are actually taking over top positions as we see with Andrea Diquez and Javier Campopiano, at Saatchi NY as CEO and CCO, respectively. On one hand, this is great news. It means our talent is now acknowledged and searched for. On the other hand, it represents a “fuga de cerebros”. They are “stealing” them from our ranks and it is almost impossible to retain them because the offer of working at this worldly iconic agencies is hard to resist. So a new kind of recruiting challenge is already in place.
Also a new trend has appeared: Latin products and brands which started in this country, doing advertising in Spanish for the Hispanic Market, are now doing original campaigns in English to reach the General Market. It’s the case of Tecate Lite, Goya products and a new player, Tajín which is one of our clients. In some cases, the General Market does the work; in other cases, it’s the Hispanic agency doing it, like us with Tajín for the General Market.
Has the creative product continued improving or has it perhaps stagnated a little?
I guess we have reached a full spectrum: From the “same-old, same-old” Hispanic ideas with the family and abuelitas, to the fresh and insightful award-winning ideas, and now we are going beyond advertising, into the innovation category and creation of new products which was an unexplored territory for our industry before.
Do you observe a creative product that may perhaps be a bit too derivative as a result of Total Market consolidation?
It depends on the brand or product. Some clients have decided to be very unified with their campaigns, a Total Market approach, while other ones continue to develop original creative for both markets.
If so, which would be your tactic to provide relevance?
First, you need a big idea. Then, dig deep for truly Hispanic insights that will make it more relevant for this target than just a universal idea. At d expósito & Partners, we speak of Total Relevance in order to achieve Total Market. It's what makes sense, right?
What brings you to lead the creative at d expósito & Partners and to become a full partner?
That Daisy and Jorge invited me to it! We have been talking about it for a long time. I have always believed that work life goes in cycles and I felt this was the right time to start a new cycle. I call it the right challenge at the right time in the right city. It's "the right challenge" because d expósito is a solid agency with growth, success and stability. And a culture of results-yielding effectiveness. The challenge they've given me is to encourage and create a more tangible creative identity-like, build a more audacious creative culture for the brand. If there was no room for that, I wouldn't have a challenge or anything to build or create. Daisy and Jorge want no less: they want more, they even want me to bring more radical excitement and we're already having fun together. Then there is the "right time," both for them and for me. I feel I'm at my prime, energy-wise and experience-wise. And, finally, what I call the "right city" component. Fernando Vega Olmos told me once: "Ché, montá tu agencia en la ciudad donde quieras despertarte todos los días". Which means, "Build your agency in a city in which you love to wake up every morning." I always believe there are cities that suit us better than others and where we can feel more at home. That has an impact in your state of mind and your work output. I love New York and when I was not living here full time I always answered, half-jokingly, that "physically I live in Dallas, or Miami, but mentally I'm in a New York state of mind".
Do you see yourself playing a role beyond language as this agency employs the moniker of The New American Agency which they have trademarked?
As the saying goes, “culture first, language second”. Actually, we are already developing creative for the General Market for Tajín, which is a successful and well-known Mexican brand in origin with many popular products.
What is your opinion relating awards? How do you value, rate and perceive the notion of the creative product being awarded?
Recently, I was at a wine tasting where before I had even tried the wines, the seller was telling me: “And this wine won this award at this competition, and this other one won this award at this other competition”, and I was like, “Who cares about the awards, can I taste them to see if I like them?” Then I thought, this is exactly how we agencies should sound to clients when we start bragging about awards. No wonder clients many times say: “Who cares about the awards, show me that it produces results first!” After I had tried the wines and I had chosen my favorite, curiously the less expensive of all of them, then I was interested in knowing more about the award: “It won gold medal for best wine under $15 dlls.”. And I couldn’t agree more! In a nutshell, I would say the following: Let’s do work that produces results and be the awards the consequence of it!
What comes first, the mission of delivering strategically or the thirst for awards?
You know, there’s this misconception that delivering strategically and winning an award are two different things. As if one thing would exclude the other. And there is nothing farther from the truth! Some of the “craziest” campaigns out there, which have amassed a flurry of awards, are incredibly strategic and have produced unprecedented reaction and sale results. It’s a very simple logic: A campaign that captures the attention of a jury will attract for sure the attention of consumers. Of course, include the fact that it communicates strategically the benefit of the product and you have a win-win situation.
What’s your take on advertising’s role in social causes?
It’s one of the best ways to put our talent to the benefit of the world. It’s a great way to give back. At d expósito we are working on some exciting campaigns for Safe Horizon.
What’s your take on the good and the bad of a “trucho”, those scam spots that are made only for festivals and not for consumers?
Truchos are like smoking, so passé! There is no good to obtain from a “trucho” except for your ego. You are just kidding yourself. We are in the advertising business with emphasis in business. Our job is to generate results for a brand, not to come up with a very creative piece that exists only in your personal reel. If you want to do your “own thing”, do yourself a favor and create a short movie, a book, or any artistic expression that suits you. You may even get an Oscar, which is way cooler than an ad award!
How do you picture yourself working with the folks at d expósito & Partners, including a leader like Daisy Expósito-Ulla? And Jorge Ulla?
It’s an honor to work with such iconic leaders of our industry! And a lot of fun!
How do you differentiate an independent shop from a global? Where do you think there is more fun?
Both have pros and cons. For instance, big, global agencies have access to global accounts usually with bigger production budgets, etc. On the down-side, you have to deliver a profit percentage or else. An independent shop as its description says it, it’s more, well, independent. You are free to manage your own money; by the same token, you don’t have “papi network” throwing you accounts and leads or infusing cash when you need it! Having experienced both worlds, I could say a global agency may feel like a more “steady job”, more secure if you want. There is nothing wrong with that; and an independent shop feels more like an adventure, where anything can happen at any given time, and you have to be more resourceful. It keeps you on your toes. For some people this may be scary, while for others like me, it's more exciting!
Who have been your mentors?
Talking about my period in the U.S. Hispanic Market on the creative side: Luis Miguel Messianú; on the business side: Manny Vidal and Eduardo Del Rivero.
If you were forced to name your favorite creative work, what will that be?
It depends on the week! Seriously. Nowadays, we have access to work coming up from all over the world, and when social and digital can be produced so fast there’s a new great thing every week. Or even every day.
Are you keen on digital? To what extent?
We are keener on digital than what we think. Digital needs to be demystified. It has gotten this aura of a mysterious media that is understood only by millennials and digital natives and the truth is we are all users. Are you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Then you are digitally savvy enough. Period. Now, when it comes down to how to implement a social campaign or which new technology is out there, then yes, a more knowledgeable “millennial” or technocrat is a key part of the team.
Do you find much differences among the different medium?
Nowadays which kind of medium is more watched and shared? Videos! And if you think about it, what are those videos? Just like TV ads! Now they are simply being disseminated through social media instead of a TV channel. And what are a FB or twitter post? A print ad or an OOH. So, while the media and context, and the speed from creation to air may be different, the end piece doesn’t differ that much.
Could you provide — in the form of bullet points — a quick forecast of the U.S. Hispanic Market in the years to come?
If I could, I would be a millionaire! The worst possible attitude is to assume it will remain as it is right now. That’s how industries like Kodak and Blockbusters became irrelevant and disappeared. One possibility is that, in some years, we truly become one single market. The majority of Hispanics are now U.S.-born. The recent arrivals have begun to diminish dramatically thanks to Trump’s “wall”; there is no more a separate General Market here and a universe of Hispanic advertising agencies over there, really, but only one kind, a meaningful fluid fusion of both without loosing important differentiated specifics of each. Now, most likely I will be retired from this business by the time it becomes one single thing. So, if that's ever to happen, it won’t be my problem! Meanwhile, I laugh out loud at that possible future because right now it's our consumers who keep the growth and moving the product for many brands and categories!
What weight do you place on humor as a source/force/strength of your work?
I personally love humor in everyday life. I also really believe a “fun working environment”, an attitude of “play”, bring out the best creative. On the ads themselves, when humor makes sense for the product or the brand, it’s a great tool because when it is well executed, it becomes entertaining and it makes people want to spend time watching your message. Or even better, sharing it. Nowadays, it’s all about “shareability” of your message.
Are you eager to work with some of the creatives at dex or are you looking at bringing totally new players?
Most likely a combination of both.
How do you see/find relevance in your communication and how do you integrate cultural Touch Points such as music/dance/etc. or do you simply outrule them as stereotypes?
It’s all about the idea and it’s about real insights. Music and dance are not insights, each of them may be an element. There is a difference between both and it’s important to get it.
What are some of Paco’s passions?
My two latest passions are: Red wine and salsa dancing. Not necessarily in that order, though it helps!