Chief Creative Officer and Vice President of TBWA\Spain on his loyalty to the agency, proudest moments and the Latin American influence in Spain
Juan Sánchez has spent the majority of his 21-year advertising career at TBWA in Madrid. His influence on the agency is hard to overstate. For the past two years he’s been tasked with leading the agency as both Chief Creative Officer and Vice President, alongside the other Vice President Jesus Fuertes, who started there the same year as Juan.
Since he took over as creative boss in Madrid, the agency has repeatedly been ranked among the top three in the country for creativity, according to Spanish industry magazine Anuncios. He’s since been vocal about the importance of pushing innovation as well as traditional creativity across the agency’s work and this has paid off in the form of intriguing campaigns such as the Nissan ‘Percebeiro Shield’, where the agency developed a device to protect barnacle collectors from dangerous waves.
LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Juan.
LBB> Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? How did it affect what you ended up doing as a career?
Juan> I grew up in a humble neighborhood in Madrid surrounded by families from around the whole country. I guess that having grown up in a multicultural environment allowed me to keep in touch with different realities and helped me to be more open-minded.
LBB> What do you remember about your early thoughts or feelings about advertising?
Juan> I never had early thoughts to become a creative. My professional vocation had more to do with writing. I really enjoyed writing stories and that's what led me to start working in advertising as a copywriter.
LBB> You've spent the majority of your career at TBWA. What is it about the agency that has kept you there for so long?
Juan> I started my professional career in TBWA as a copywriter. After five years, I moved up to DDB as a creative director and a few years later I came back to TBWA to manage the creative department. From this moment on, I started to feel that this place offered me everything I needed for growing up as a professional. TBWA\Spain has given me the chance to hold responsibilities in the management of the company and I guess that I have been meeting expectations! I’m happy in the agency, both personally and professionally and I have never felt the need to change, even though I have had the chance to do it.
LBB> It feels like Spanish creativity is on an upward trajectory at the moment - what do you think is behind that?
Juan> Our country faced a really difficult situation during the economic crisis and the creative quality of an industry has a lot to do with the risk that is taken on during the decision-making process. In times of crisis, there is often fear, and creative decisions tend to be more conservative. That fear is disappearing and both agencies and advertisers risk more when it comes to betting on innovative ideas.
LBB> What lesson or piece of advice do you wish you'd received earlier?
Juan> Don’t be afraid.
LBB> What recent pieces of work are you most proud of and why?
Juan> Our latest campaign for American Tourister with one of the most famous football players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. This was a very important campaign for our agency, and was shown in more than 30 countries.
There’s Percebeiro Shield too. We developed a safety tool for goose barnacle collectors inspired by Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology. With this campaign, we wanted to communicate how to improve people’s lives through car technology. We not only got plenty of recognition with this prototype but today they are studying this technology at a University.
LBB> You’ve said your role encompasses both creativity and innovation. What is the key to balancing the two?
Juan> Innovation is not useful if it isn’t based on a creative concept that helps the brand or the product. We are not inventors, we are communicators. And innovation can enhance an idea, but cannot replace it.
LBB> Culturally speaking, what most inspires you? Are there any artists/filmmakers/writers that have a big influence?
Juan> I think I’m a culturally open-minded person and very receptive to multiple influences. Cultural curiosity it is something necessary to develop a good creative job.
LBB> You've been involved with El Ojo de Iberoamérica over the years. How do you think being part of the broader Latin world affects the industry in Spain?
Juan> Historically, there has been a transfer of talent between Spanish creatives and Latin Americans. It has always been rewarding for both markets to have the vision of the other side. We could say that the Latin influence Works well in Spanish creativity and allows us to have a different personality from other European countries.