Nouri Films, the Barcelona-based production and service company has partnered with Little Black Book to sponsor the site’s Spanish Edition. As part of that, over the upcoming months we will be spending time with some of the most exciting creative talent the country has to offer.
In this conversation we speak to Nouri Films executive producer Antonella Perillo, who handles the national market in Spain, and managing director Michael Nouri, who is responsible for service production. We talk about the pivotal moment that Spain is at now, as it shifts to become more plugged into the international creative market than ever before, and discuss the most exciting talent that is both emerging from Spain and flocking there from around the world.
LBB> In general, how would you characterise the Spanish advertising scene?
Michael> Traditional and mainly storytelling with an emotional approach. Colourful. Sometimes hard selling and loud.
Antonella> The advertising scene in Spain is currently going through a phase of profound change, mainly provoked by three factors:
1. The economic and systemic crisis, which pushes the companies that make up the entrepreneurial fabric, advertisers, communication professionals and even society towards research on emotionality and sustainability.
2. Technological evolution, with respect to the accessibility of technology, and also the appearance of a multitude of communication "windows" offered by the internet in a world saturated with screens.
3. The need for brands to rebuild trust and commitment with the consumer who has profoundly changed even today.
Workflows, hierarchies, the raison d'être of companies in our sector are "reinvented" trying to access talent, optimising resources and looking for the best possible results. In a globalised and unsustainable world. However, paradoxically, I currently believe that Spain brings together some of the best production companies in the world, with talented and knowledgeable directors leading some of the most visual and interesting productions on the global stage. Young people with a lot of talent who must be supported and helped to grow.
LBB> What do you think differentiates the industry there from that in other countries?
Antonella> Basically two factors determine the Spanish advertising industry today: the crisis of advertising creativity that we are suffering through today and the struggle of budgets. Also the delay in the internationalisation of Spanish companies. Especially outside of Europe. Even the delay with which companies and brands enter the international market is not in step with the times.
I believe these factors determine our industry today. However, this is a country of passionate people. We have excellent technicians in both post-production and production, and I think we are learning to work using technology that advances every day, in the service of a globalised world.
We are positively differentiated from other countries by emotion, illusion and love of visual storytelling.
On the negative side, certainly the professionalism and competence of other countries has a longer trajectory over time, and the experience of having worked on larger projects for a long time.
Spain is one of the most beautiful and precious places in the world. And our professionals today have very interesting development and expertise and we still retain a certain affordability. Proof of this is the proliferation of service production in Spain.
LBB> Is there any work that has come out of Spain that you wished the world had heard more about?
Michael> There was one campaign which stood out for Estrella Damm, which was done by Nacho Gayan with Agosto - a beautiful campaign for a Catalan beer brand. And unfortunately, everything was thought through from a local perspective, but it's a global issue. It's a campaign in three films - chapters one, two and three. I really like chapter one, which they started in 2019 with an underwater ballet dancer. Everything was shot under the sea, beautifully lit and it was even mentioned as one of the campaigns of the year in Spain.
They shot one part for last year, in the summer in lockdown with an international DP, Khalid Mohtaseb, they brought him over from New York and it was an amazing outcome. This is the kind of work where I really say, 'Wow, well done, chapeau, you guys did an amazing job'. And it came out of Spain. Unfortunately, it was a local beer brand, and didn’t really get much attention out of Spain.
Antonella> I love those films but it's not just being a filmmaker. It's also photography, dance, contemporary art, digital arts or music. The artistic panorama in Spain is so vast, and not just related to the film industry or advertising commercials. At its best, the industry tries to mix and match the talent.
You have a photographer Carlota Guerrero
. I also love the work of Diana Kunst
. There’s La Casa de Carlota & Friends, which is a pretty interesting campaign.
Then you have Candela Capitan
- a dancer using the body in a very different way who is getting famous. She's doing Dior and Vogue campaigns, living in Barcelona. So there are all these young, talented people who are expressing their talent in a different way and forms.
LBB> Why do you think Spain is attracting this kind of talent from all over the world now?
Michael> Barcelona has a cool factor for international people, not only for creatives but for any kind of young people, because they like to live here. We have 300 days of sun a year, it's a really laid back party city. Graphic designers, IT people, photographers, directors just like to live here. They started working here even in the last 10 months, remotely for companies abroad. But at the same time, they're looking for an income here locally. And that's how there is so much potential here at the moment. It's still different than in Madrid, because here it is smaller, and you have probably more creative people and it's quite an interesting place. That always creates more friction, which is good.
LBB> The advertising landscape in Spain seems to be changing rapidly, how has it changed over the past five years?
Michael> More international creatives are coming to Spain. New agencies have launched. Like c14torce, part of the DDB Network, was launched only for SEAT in Barcelona three years ago. This agency was set up by Amir Kassei, who was the global chief creative officer for DDB at the time. And they moved him from New York to Barcelona and asked him to build an agency only for a car brand. SEAT belongs to the Volkswagen group and VW is run by DDB worldwide, so they had an interest that DDB had an agency here in Spain for SEAT.
Or DAVID in Madrid. A big American agency, based in Miami. They're in charge of the Latin American market with a big headquarters even in Sao Paulo. They opened in Madrid and the first big global campaign they did was a Super Bowl ad for Turkish Airlines
out of a creative team in Madrid. I made a Super Bowl ad only once in my life. This is still, for me, like the Champions League in advertising. If they succeeded in producing something for the Super Bowl, it means even more international work could come to Spain.
Antonella> The Spanish panorama has changed profoundly in recent years, in business models, in workflows. Today in our country, multiscreening is now considered, the ability to create and manage 360º communication is valued. The appearance of digital formats, branded content, or videos for Instagram Stories / Reels / IGTV or FB stories etc., require brutal flexibility in the companies that make up the sector. Brands demand more transversal advertising, where communication platforms generate a constant need for content. The multiple TV channels also generate more "stress" for brands, given the uncertainty of audiences.
The consumer has changed now, definitely. We want communication that is also more honest and creative in equal measure.
We have also changed because we are now an active part of the world, because we have also learned and grown technologically. I think Spain is on the right track, on its way to improvement.
LBB> What do you love most about Spanish creative talent?
Antonella> Spain has many talents, not just directors or photographers. It also has good art directors, casting directors, actors, models, stunts, precision drivers, crews in general. Artists, dancers, filmmakers.
Their work is characterised by: A shine of warmth and joy, emotional intelligence, humour (when they allow it), freedom of thought (when they allow us), intelligence and sobriety in concepts that emerge in many awarded campaigns globally.
In Spanish creative talent, culture, intelligence and formal wealth coexist in equal parts - innovation and creativity that we will see both in TV campaigns and in digital content.
Michael> I love that it’s emotional, driven by passion. And the younger generation is more non conforming.
LBB> How do you think more Spanish advertising talent can be pushed globally?
Antonella> I have been a talent curator for a long time and part of my job is still to advise directors or artists on how best to move internationally. How to grow their reel or capture the interests of creatives.
We need to give them the necessary support, such as encouraging them to participate in international festivals, to shoot short films, travel for events and be present where an opportunity is spotted.
You have to give them the right support, because the ingredients of the recipe are already there. We see how much passion they put into their work. We are lucky to live in this technological age where it is easier to showcase their work through social media, to get the attention of brands and gain their trust.
Today it is easier to do marketing but it is not an improvised job, it requires expert people who are dedicated to promotion. And let's not forget that having talent is not the same as being successful, you have to work as a team and work hard to make it stand out.
Also the connections that already exist between countries, attending festivals, meeting service production companies. These are all platforms to share and expand talent. There are many ways to expand. It is no coincidence that in the last year agencies have expanded their staff by employing creative talent from all over the world. See DAVID Madrid, which opened only just a year ago, and in its wake other agencies in Spain have hired French, Italian, English, American staff.
This means the importance of communicating in a language that everyone can understand no matter which country you come from. The common goal is to COMMUNICATE and the different nationalities only add value that enriches and opens minds.
The same goes for the production companies which, after having participated in some of the most important creativity festivals in Europe, have realised that they had to hire producers capable of speaking several languages and with an international background to project themselves into other markets. Others have benefitted from having a background in international services, with knowledge of the various modus operandi as well as of customers, producers, directors and crews.
Having an international creative direction is a necessity. Until a few years ago, the national market was very closed and very nationalistic. Mainly people spoke Spanish, they saw only themselves, they were not so international. More and more, Covid sped up the evolution that was already in the air, because Spain could not stay behind the rest of the world.
Michael> I can see that there is a lot of potential for the Spanish market, or in general for the Spanish speaking markets, because we have probably 20 countries all over the world speaking Spanish. There are over 400 million people talking Spanish as their native language around the world.
And cultural differences between Spanish speaking countries are getting smaller due to globalisation. I shot an end of the '90s in Chile and it was amazing. I love Chile. And I went back for a shoot in 2010 and it felt completely like Europe. In these 10 years, they got the same shopping malls, they got the same Starbucks and Subway. They lost more and more of their own identity over the years, which is a shame but it's part of globalisation. People are similarly dressed and they're listening to the same kind of music. We need, of course, to defend values and traditional things, but for communication, I think it's pretty wide open and you have a lot of opportunities and many of these will definitely come from Spain. If you think that such a big part of the world is speaking Spanish. They're even getting better in English speaking because the younger generation are used to travelling more.
It’s about creativity and if you bring the right creative people together and it's not about their passports, you can create great things.
Antonella> In recent years speaking with several people who work in our industry, when I ask if they have worked internationally, almost everyone replies that they have worked a lot abroad in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, so it is easy to deduce that the meaning of international is limited to Spanish-speaking countries. It didn’t mean go to London, Paris, Hamburg or go to New York. We think that it can become more than that, more really international. Maybe it was just a limitation because of the language. The new generations have now learned that they have to speak other languages if they want to succeed abroad.
Please don't get me wrong, I have all due respect for our local talents, in whom I firmly believe and who deserve job opportunities not only in Spain but worldwide.
LBB> What work are you recently most proud of and why?
Michael> We got an opportunity to shoot cars with a virtual LED background as cars could not be filmed in public for legal reasons. I’m very grateful for learning something new and offering secure solutions to the client.
LBB> What sort of work are you most passionate about creating right now?
Michael> We are preparing a commercial with one of the most popular Spanish actresses for a global campaign with other strong women.
LBB> What’s the best piece of advice you have received in your career?
Michael> Think bigger, don’t stop exploring and stay true to yourself.
Antonella> It is not exactly advice but an aphorism from Seneca that became a motto. And that I find motivating to always do better and more:
“Luck doesn’t exist. There is only the moment when talent meets opportunity.”