Creativity Squared in association withLBB Pro

Creativity Squared: Manolo Techera on Confusing Funny with Creative

Advertising Agency
Mexico City, Mexico
M&C Saatchi Chilanga CCO on the importance of being observant and feeling secure in the creative process

After working in different markets, after managing a department of hundreds of creatives, surrounding myself with extremely talented people, winning many awards at national, regional and international festivals, bringing to Mexico the first Cannes Lion in the Titanium category, fighting to appear in rankings, after starting an agency from scratch and consolidating it in three years. After managing many local and global brands, creating iconic advertising moments and winning effectiveness awards, after all that, today I am faced with a new challenge.

And the challenge is to do it again.

Winning lions again at Cannes, being tried again, swearing again, chairing juries again, arguing and learning again, getting back on stage and giving talks, running memorable campaigns again, winning Effies again, going back to to have a reference agency, to return to leave a grain of sand in this great dune.

Because loving what we do is doing it again.


LBB> What kind of creative person are you?

Manolo> I am an OBSERVER of life, of customs, of fashion, of the lives of the people around me and even at a distance from those who do not surround me. I am convinced that a creative must live like a sponge, absorb a lot or a little but always feed from others.

LBB> How would you describe your personality?

Manolo> I would describe myself as introverted when I'm not interested in the environment and extroverted when I'm comfortable with my surroundings. I'm kind of chameleon in that sense.

LBB> How do you like to see the world?

Manolo> Critically. Years go by and this gets accentuated due to various factors, the changes in humanity and raising children in this world is rather peculiar. I am quite nostalgic and that part of me misses the past, and as the saying goes, the past was always better.

LBB> Do you think creativity is something that’s innate or something that you learn – why?

Manolo> It is something that I think one is born with, but like anything it must be practiced every day. Funny people are often confused with creative people, also using creativity for business with brands has nothing to do with being creative for yourself, like painting a picture, writing a song, etc.

LBB> Would you consider yourself and introvert or extravert – or something else? Why?

Manolo> As I said before, I feel introverted when I'm not interested in the environment and extroverted when I'm comfortable with my surroundings.

LBB> How do you feel about routine?

Manolo> I think it’s a comfortable place that can become dangerous when we get used to spending a long time in it.

LBB> When it comes to creative ‘stuff’ that you enjoy, do you like things that are similar to the work you do or do you enjoy exploring?

Manolo> I like similar ones because they come to me in an easier and more digestible way, the "rare" ones bother me to the point that at first I reject them and then little by little I admire them to the point where I to envy them.


LBB> How do you judge the creativity of a piece of work?

Manolo> The years have changed me in that sense, today I always judge keeping in mind if the idea solves a problem, at the beginning of my career I was "dazzled" by transgressive and unique ideas but rarely did I ever stop to evaluate if that campaign solved the brand’s problem.

LBB> How do you assess whether an idea or a piece of work is truly creative? What are your criteria?

Manolo> That I do not guess the end of a piece is fundamental for me, after so much watching it is difficult to achieve it but there’s the challenge of our profession.

LBB> Has that criteria shifted or evolved over the years?

Manolo> Changed no, evolved yes. I say this based on what projects have surprised me a lot in the past, today I see them and I still like them, my criteria remains similar.

LBB> What creative campaigns are your proudest of and why?

Manolo> In general, those that have a smooth process in terms of thought, execution, communication, etc. Campaigns that do not comply with the entire process cease to be ideas and go into the category of "occurrences".

Our Ballantine's campaign is a good example of a job well done, solid, well executed and with great results, we launched #PROUDTOBE and the brand found its space and cut in the Mexican market.

LBB> Overall, what do you make of the industry’s creative output right now? What’s exciting you about it or frustrating you?

Manolo> It is a very delicate moment and the global crisis caused by Covid19 has greatly impacted the budgets of brands, but not everything is the pandemic’s fault.

For a few years, our industry adopted the belief that with the arrival of the digital world, everything would be solved quickly and cheaply, and that has played against us when creating.


LBB> Tell us about how you like to make creative work

Manolo> I really like to understand in depth the problem to be solved, the WHAT to say is extremely important and many times leaving the solution to the HOW to say it is one of the great mistakes of us advertisers.

LBB> How do you like to start a campaign or creative project?

Manolo> I always like to start by understanding in depth everything related to the brand, the history of the brand, the product, the category, it's the best way to feel secure in the creative process.

LBB> Are there any tools or platforms (analogue or digital) that you find particularly helpful for gathering or iterating ideas?

Manolo> There is an attitude of starting something new, tools help a lot as long as we know how to interpret results, intuition is a great ally, although data lovers have dedicated themselves to belittling it.

LBB> Are there any techniques that you’ve tried that just didn’t gel with you, why?

Manolo> There are no infallible techniques or methods when it comes to creativity.

LBB> Do you like to start every project as a blank sheet or are you constantly collecting possible inspiration or references for future projects?

Manolo> The classic blank page, and if it is on physical paper even better. Incomparable for me.

LBB> Do you prefer to work collaboratively or alone?

Manolo> I like to start off as a team, so then when I’m alone I can "order" my thoughts and work on the different creative views to then "wait" for the idea to arrive.

LBB> When it comes to the hard bits of a project, when you’re stumped, do you have a process or something you like to do for getting past those tricky bits? 

Manolo> For me it is very important to understand the brief well, never “disconnect" completely from the subject, although life goes on and there are always other projects in parallel, I never stop thinking about that. Being super into the subject in the least thoughtful moments the idea "visits me" without me looking for it. Not being desperate is for my part of the secret, the idea will always appear, experience helps a lot.

LBB> When you’re working with a group, where you might be helping someone else with their process. How do you know when a piece of work is ‘done’?

Manolo> A job is never done, that is determined by the scheduled date because the feeling is that you can always continue and improve something.


LBB> What external factors have shaped you and what can make or break a creative project?

Manolo> My experiences and my capacity for observation are my great allies.

LBB> Where did you grow up and what early experiences do you think sowed the seeds of your creativity?

Manolo> I was born and raised in a small town of 7 thousand inhabitants in the interior of Uruguay, with the particularity of it being on the border between Uruguay and Brazil.

Half the town is from one country and the other half is from the other. That street that "divides" and "joins" two cultures, two ways of seeing the world, two ways of living that marked my existence from the beginning of my days until today.

LBB> How did you hone your craft?

Manolo> In truth my life perfected my craft and my craft perfected my life. I visited countries, I travelled to incredible places, and met many people from different cultures all thanks to advertising, and the same thing happened the other way around, all those experiences helped me become a better publicist.

LBB> When it comes to your own creativity, what external factors can really help you fly, and what do you find frustrates it?

Manolo> Pressure makes me better and more focused. Disorder is good for ideas, but you have to be very attentive so that within that disorder one can “fish” in those good ideas.

LBB> What advice would you give to clients looking to get the best out of the teams and agencies they worked with?

Manolo> Get to know your agencies, know how they think, what history they have, what profiles they handle, in order to build a healthy and productive relationship.

LBB> How do you think agencies can best facilitate creativity in terms of culture and design?

Manolo> It is a task shared with the advertisers, the agencies propose but the ones who determine are the brands.

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