McCann Mexico’s VP of digital integration and innovation on the magic of the internet
McCann Mexico’s Ana Marín isn’t just a digital native, she’s a social native. Her route into the ad industry was through Twitter – before being ‘Twitter-recruited’ by Havas she was a radio host and producer, worked at a production company, worked in influencer marketing and was a regular columnist - and she’s embraced the social potential of the internet since she first dabbled in her very first online chat forum.
These days, Ana is VP of digital integration and innovation and she has a lively presence on Instagram and Tik Tok where she shares content to help mentor creative women. Ana is someone who embraces the online world so enthusiastically, but the restrictions brought about by Covid have only strengthened her belief in the power of social platforms and remote working tools. And she believes that building an online presence around a passion is an important route into the industry for the new generation of aspiring ad folk. LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with Ana to learn more.
LBB> Your journey to the agency world is interesting – as I understand it, you started out in production, did a stint in radio too and in influencer marketing before getting ‘Twitter recruited’ by Havas S&E. How has all that diverse experience before working in the agency world helped you in your career?
Ana> It made me a T shaped professional. I love social media, and also understand about technology, content creation and production. So, I can play many roles and interact with different kinds of peers, speaking in their own language. And mostly, I can translate needs and processes to every stakeholder in my industry.
LBB> And how did that first agency opportunity come about?
Ana> Because of my social presence. Someone from the Havas Team followed my account (with 20k followers, which was a lot in the early days of twitter here in Mexico) so when they needed someone to lead Snickers’ digital ecosystem, they sent me a DM. I started blogging, recruiting and managing influencers, producing social media content and managing the community. It was natural for me, since I already was doing that for myself, then we started to win more accounts with social SOW and I ended up leading the social media division of the company.
LBB> Journalism seems to be a massive part of your journey too, having had a digital marketing column, produced a radio show and then writing and editing content marketing – what sort of skills and insight did those experiences help you develop?
Ana> I know how to research, write and produce long form content. If you think about it, what most brands call content is more like “flyers” or small, digital OOHs. And I’ve noticed that most copywriters have a hard time creating articles or pieces longer than a 30-second ad. So that gave me an early editorial approach to social media, and the need to always seek to deliver something useful and interesting when posting as a brand.
LBB> You’ve been with McCann for eight, nearly nine years – how has McCann Mexico grown and evolved as an agency in that time?
Ana> McCann Worldgroup has a lot of business units that specialise in Brand experiences, content production, PR, Technology an CRM and we’ve become experts on integration. Most of our clients work with two or more of our companies, so the organic growth has been a huge part of becoming the number one agency in Mexico, both in Merca2.0 Ranking and on IAB’s ranking. We have the data, the strategy, the creativity and the implementation in one place and this “war room mode” benefits our approach, because an activation is never only that. We try to gather data, or to link offline to online all the time. And that’s only the beginning.
LBB> What drew you to the digital and innovation side of the industry?
Ana> The first time I used a chatroom, more than 20 years ago, I decided that I wanted to spend more time on the internet. As much as I could. I really love meeting new people, learning about their culture, especially pop culture. I love what connections can do, from digitising books to Tik Tok crowdsourcing a musical based on Ratatouille. So, I really spend most of my time online and that makes it natural for me to find trends, learn about consumers and put together references and motivations to ideate for social and digital ideas.
LBB> What is the industry getting right about the digital and innovation space – and what does it need to do better?
Ana> It needs to democratise its best practices. A lot of brands keep asking for vanity metrics, and a lot of companies thrive by creating the “digital flyers” I mentioned earlier. Instead of aiming for automation first party data and the inclusion of each and every digital property into a connected ecosystem that delivers some kind of business outcome.
LBB> What does your current role entail and what really excites you about it?
Ana> A lot of new business, training, strategy, creativity and the facilitation of innovative solutions, whether it is because of my creative direction, or because I find the vendors or partners that make our ideas come true.
LBB> How do you keep yourself up to speed with evolving technology? And what current developments are particularly exciting?
Ana> Luckily, I have a really nerdy husband who complements my curiosity; he’s a former programmer and now a film composer. Because of him, I had an intelligent home before you could buy the gear in Mexico. So, we really enjoy watching and trying everything that we can when it comes to innovation. For example, we watched a lot of Vacuum wars when we were deciding on which Roomba to buy. That gives me a lot of insight on how costumers research and the amazing and entertaining ways information and benchmarks can be presented.
But I also look for CES summary videos, tech websites, TED talks, and the monthly visit to advertising libraries like WE LOVE AD to see how my industry is applying those things. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Audrey Tang. And about to take Professor Galloway’s strategy sprint. I keep myself busy.
LBB> Which recent campaigns or projects are you particularly proud of and why?
Ana> I love what we’ve been doing with Chevrolet. (My longest client relationship BTW, eight years with them)
They were recognised as inclusive brand, advertiser of the year and McCann Commonwealth as Agency of the Year in IAB 2020 here in Mexico. Our clients are bold and willing to try new things. We built a high-tech backpack, that equipped WiFi, wireless charger, lights and music to serve as a Trojan horse to convey our brand message to the younger generations. Since in Mexico, Chevy is perceived as an old and not techy brand because the volume drivers and bestseller cars didn’t have any of those features.
GM has used mass media and social media alike to support inclusion and representation. Not only portraying LGBT couples but also single dads, people who don’t want kids and truck driving women.
And we went out on the streets driving an electric car when there was a fuel shortage in the city. Trending the whole weekend and helping five million drivers with the only vehicle that did not need gas to move, to find it for them.
I’ve been proudly part of these 3 award winning examples and hope to continue developing great work for them.
LBB> How have you found the experience of the past year personally – are you back in the office or still working from home?
Ana> I feel really lucky and grateful. And I’m trying to give back. I do not hesitate to buy local, online. Also, I started producing mentorship content for women on my IG and Tik Tok accounts.
And for the inspiring part of the question: Tik Tok is a huge reference There are so many talented creators, funny content and even marketing hacks and tips that really work. I think it’s the happiest place on the internet right now. I’m also watching at least one TED Talk a week. And try to do it daily.
Still working from home, with no idea of when we will come back… and also no rush. Once it’s safe, then we’ll go back.
LBB> It’s a tough time to be entering the industry right now – what advice would you give to anyone trying to get their foot in the door?
Ana> Don’t wait to have the job to show what you can do. Especially nowadays, when you do not meet people face to face and meetings are all about the projects, you need to create a great book, a great social presence or at least, something that you are passionate about. Whether it’s a great IG Feed, a short film, a song…. Whatever makes you happy and portray your personality and capabilities. I think that will make the difference. Otherwise, you will be just another email with the deliveries attached.
LBB> What are your hopes for 2021?
Ana> Vaccines, a worldwide financial recovery and a lot of internet magic to make that happen and to keep us sane.