What the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?

It’s not really a new idea. It’s an idea that’s been proving to be amazing for the last five years or so. The Lacoste Life is a Beautiful Sport campaign. And I’m not singling out one particular spot here, they are all great, they all have their own merits. What truly impresses my is how great that tagline is, coming from a brand that started out in tennis but is now a casual lifestyle brand...they’ve managed to position life, with all its ups and downs, as its new sport. They dug into the essence of their brand to find that insight and then subverted it. It’s a tagline that itself is layered, but is just so poignant. But most of all, it has allowed the agency and directors to create great storytelling from it.

Lacoste – Crocodile Inside, The Film

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What website(s) do you use most regularly?

I wake up and open a bunch of newspapers. I read about three Brazilian newspapers, The Guardian and The New York Times. It makes me feel like I work in finance, or law, or something serious like that.

What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought?

Lame answer: AirPods. But they’ve changed my life. My conference calls are way better now. I can actually hear the agency, and they can hear me. It’s an amazing piece of technology that shows how poor the iPhone itself is in terms of sound quality.

What product could you not live without?

My iPad, and my iPencil. This is turning into an Apple commercial isn’t it? Tor, call me! But it’s true, I use it to draw storyboards, to mark camera positions, to draw over location pics, to mark adjustments in post reports. It just makes my production process easier.

What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?

Parasite. Hands down the best film I saw last year, I’d risk saying it’s the best I’ve seen in the last five years. Funny, surprising, highly entertaining, genre-bending. For me, this is what cinema is meant to be.

What film do you think everyone should have seen?

If Parasite is a film that somehow is about how awful human beings can be, my favourite film ever is quite the opposite: Cinema Paradiso. It’s the film that made me fall in love with cinema. And it’s a film about love and loving cinema. It has everything, comedy, action, beauty, drama.

What’s your preferred social media platform?

I love Pinterest. I love it for research. It’s amazing to be able search visually. I use it as a sort of thinking tool. I’ll go in and look at a particular photography style, for example, and one image leads to another, then another, then another. And maybe you end up not using any of them as references, but it gets you into a particular mood, and that helps you consolidate your ideas, or at least figure out what you don’t want to do.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Peaky Blinders. This is the best series ever made, in my humble opinion. Great writing, great actors, but more than that, I find that with series' the cinematic standard is dropped eventually. You look at anything from Madmen to Game of Thrones and there’s that occasional shot that just seems a little cheap, due to the sheer amount of hours that need to be produced over multiple seasons. With Peaky Blinders that doesn’t seem to happen. The art direction, photography and wardrobe are always flawless. No shots are taken for granted. Even a macro shot of someone putting out a cigarette is perfectly composed. Masterpiece.

What’s your favourite podcast?

Recently, I’ve been listening to Have you heard George’s Podcast? I’ll try to describe it here, but it’s pretty tough to do so, because it really is unique. Basically it consists of a spoken word artist, George The Poet, telling us stories that stem from his own experiences in inner London underprivileged communities, but in the process he uses sound design and other musician’s songs to illustrate what he’s talking about... but not just that, he’ll suddenly play you something he heard on the news, ie, an extract from a politician’s interview. It’s part drama, part social critique, it’s entertaining, and it’s all seamless.

For me this is like the inception of podcast storytelling, there are stories within stories within stories, but I promise you I’m not doing it justice. Just listen to it.

What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?

It wasn’t a show, it was the curation of a museum’s permanent collection. Last time I was in Rome for a shoot I managed to get one day off (rare), so I popped over to the Galleria Nazionale. What I found was that they hadn’t arranged the art works by time period, or even by their obvious subject matter. What I saw was a curator’s POV of the collection. 

For example, one room was filled with enormous 12x8 metre paintings of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia: A brutal depiction of colonisation, yet in front of all these paintings were modern day sculptures of dogs jumping at each others throats. The comparison was so poignant yet open to interpretation. It made the viewer think without being overtly preachy.

What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it? 

The abolition of online/offline boundaries. And it’s also the best thing to have happened. I saw the whole process of ‘digital’ agencies fighting with ‘traditional’ ones. There were plenty of ‘digital’ ideas at first that were very gimmicky. They had no real substance, they just relied on the latest piece of technology or software update. 

Meanwhile there were agencies still completely ignoring these new players, and just insisting one the 30-second spot. I feel like, now, we’re passed that. The gimmicks are mostly gone, the 30-second spot has survived, but we’re seeing all sorts of film formats, from six second bumpers to feature length branded content. I have to be honest, these films with longer duration are what really excite me in this business today.

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be? 

Thinking seriously about branded content. Not having branded content be the afterthought of a TV idea. I feel like everybody talks about it, and everybody wants to do it, but it’s usually the last idea in an 80 page presentation deck, so it’s the first idea to be left behind when budgeting starts.

Who or what has most influenced your career and why?

My influences are pretty broad to pinpoint, I can’t really say I was inspired by one particular director, or film movement aesthetically. If you look at my commercials, it’s quite hard to find something in common between Scrabble Anagram Lovers and Nissan Cloudcatcher, for example.

When it comes to being inspired though I certainly do have an inspiration, and that’s the movement of Mexican directors that has dominated the Oscars for the last decade: Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Iñarritu, Guillermo Del Toro. I remember watching Amores Perros when I was in college and not only being blown away but also thinking, ‘wow, a latin director can do this!’. 

Believe it or not, back then I had a tutor in Central Saint Martins tell me ‘you’ll never make it in advertising’ and when I asked her why, she bluntly replied ‘because you’re foreign’. That was before the Juan Cabral days (definitely another inspiration), so we were lacking in examples of creativity in international film and advertising. Seeing Mexican directors starting to make a splash on a global level throughout the past decade reassured me that we can be amazing directors too, and can make films (both in cinema and in advertising) that are internationally relevant.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

I’m 1% Morrocan. Thank you 23 and me.