What does it mean to be a worldwide creative director today? The role is a complex one: part ambassador, setting out the network’s store to the wider advertising world, and part agitator, reviewing and encouraging creative departments to do better, stronger, more interesting work. With media constantly evolving, and most major networks now truly global, spread across six continents (only Antarctica escapes advertising’s gaze it seems), it can appear an impossible task.
For Pablo Del Campo, recently appointed worldwide creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, a practical approach to the role is essential. “Maybe I’m a conservative creative because I am well organised, and this is something that I need,” he says. “Especially if I want to survive in this kind
Del Campo has a long history with Saatchi & Saatchi. Based in Buenos Aires, his first brush with the network was as a creative director at Lautrec Saatchi & Saatchi. In 2000 he went on to found Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi, and the agency has enjoyed great success, last year ranked the second most creative agency in the world by the Gunn Report. A skip through its back catalogue reveals an agency versed in making great advertising across all mediums: its hits include Dads In Briefs, a hilarious TV campaign about the perils of the summer heat; the Battle of the Surfaces, a clay-grass epic tennis match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal; and the Andes Teletransporter, a light-hearted stunt which saw a series of pods placed in bars that allowed errant men to call their girlfriends and convince them they were somewhere else.
In 2012, Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi launched a second office in Madrid, so Del Campo is experienced in the regular long-haul travel required by his new role, but he actually traces his suitability for the task back to his predecessor Bob Isherwood’s era. “Since I started the office in Argentina, I wanted to have regional and global responsibilities,” he says. “Because even though I love Argentina’s creativity, I find it much more interesting to think on global brands, and big projects. You can’t have big projects just working in Argentina. So I had a chance, with Kevin Roberts and Bob Isherwood, of doing global work from Argentina. And that implied travelling a lot – particularly going a lot of places with Bob. I think that I’ve been trained by Bob.”
Isherwood left the network in 2008, and there has been a five-year gap at the network with no one in the worldwide creative director role. Del Campo puts the decision to appoint him now down to the need for an objective voice across the company’s creative departments, and a figure who will keep in regular, close contact with the teams at the various agencies. His intention is to be hands-on, spending a week in New York and London each month and checking in with creatives from across the nearby regions from there. He is determined not to be a distant figure, who only appears at the creative board meetings. “I find it much more interesting to see how the work is evolving,” he says, “and you can’t see that when you see the creative directors of the regions twice a year. I’m much better at working internally with the teams, I love working with the teams.”
The rest of each month will be spent in Buenos Aires, where he will continue to guide the progress of Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi. Del Campo credits the advertising landscape in Argentina for shaping his approach to the industry and is keen to maintain his links there. “I like the industry there because consumers love advertising, ordinary people love advertising and that is fantastic. That is not very common…. In Argentina, advertising is very relevant. You know like the American Super Bowl day, advertising is very relevant that day? In Argentina, that is daily.
“In Argentina, if you want to be creative, and do creative work, you have to go to the agencies to do that,” he continues. “We don’t have in Buenos Aires, Pixar or Google … the agencies are the place where you go. You get the talent there, and that’s the reason why you have many Argentinians working in other places [around the globe]…. This is something I don’t want to lose, I want to continue living in this atmosphere, because you have the consumers pushing the clients to do great campaigns.”
In an industry where it’s trendy to be obsessed with the latest tech development, Del Campo is refreshingly wedded to film. “I’m a traditional creative, I still love film,” he says. “I think this is not just Argentinian, it’s global. It’s about the stories, people still love tales, and still love people telling stories.”
Del Campo recognises the importance of making an ad campaign newsworthy too, and cites Jim Stengel, erstwhile global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble, as particularly influencing his thinking in this area. “Jim Stengel was leading the marketing department globally in P&G and what I didn’t realise at that time was that he was a journalist,” he recounts. “Jim was telling us ‘start the presentation of ideas with a press release. Tell me the press release first and then the idea … what are people going to say about the idea, what are the media going to say about the idea? Are the readers going to talk about your idea? Is it going to be on the cover of a newspaper?’ So that was very interesting and I think that starting with the press release is important. No matter in which media you’re going to develop your ideas, the important thing is, is your idea going to become news? For me that’s key, and that is more important than the platform.”
Alongside not getting bogged down in media, Del Campo says he is also determined not to get too sidetracked by awards. This is particularly interesting given the growing importace being placed by agency networks on awards which have become the overwhelming metric used to assess performance. “I think that more important than awards is consistency,” he says. “Because I don’t care if you do great one year and then you disappear for three years. I feel it’s more relevant to find a consistent creative that you know every year is a contender. That is for me is more important. If I have to think about a promotion, if I want to promote somebody, I want to think about their consistency.
“I feel that we are a network but we have a hotshop spirit,” he concludes. “I want to respect this hotshop spirit – that was something that I was doing in Argentina, we were part of a network but we were also behaving as a hotshop. And I think that this spirit is very interesting. If then, the [awards] rankings come with us, fantastic, but honestly I prefer to get behind the ideas, the big ideas.”