Why It Pays to Approach Campaigns w/ a Design Mindset with MullenLowe

Episode · 1 year ago

Why It Pays to Approach Campaigns w/ a Design Mindset with MullenLowe


The devil is in the details…

It’s the little things that will make or break that big campaign you’re about to launch.

If you want to make sure you nail these details, you need to approach it with a design mindset.

That’s how João Paz, Head Of Design at MullenLowe US, has approached his maker space where he’s taking the attention to detail the design industry does for branding and applying it towards campaigns.

And it’s paying off.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to approach a campaign with a detail-oriented design mindset
  • Why brands fail to understand their real competition (Spoiler: It’s the internet)
  • Why customers can see right through disingenuous causes

Find this interview and many more by subscribing to BRAND-SIDE on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, or on our website.

... You know that every little thing that you choose, the button, the font, everything has a reason behind it. I wanted to bring that into the campaign world. Welcome to brand side, a new podcast by Sultra where we interview marketing creative operations and design meters to find out what life is like in house, first agency side and how big creative ideas come to life at the world's best brands. This is brand side by Sultra. Welcome back to the brandside podcast. I'm especially excited today for my guest because not only is he a fantastic award winning creative, but he is also a very dear friend who heads up design currently at the creative agency mullinlow. Welcomes Joan Pass on the brand side show. Thank it's so much pristine. You said my name better than anyone I've seen here in my seven years of America, so appreciate that. It's my years of Brazilian exposure, I guess, and and with that. So try know that you got your start in working in on the agency side in Brazil. How was it? What got you into advertising? So yeah, it's a funny thing because my dad was an art director and creative director, so I was kind of like born into into the industry, which is something kind of rare, I've noticed. As a start, meeting people all around was like not many people, you know, have their parents work and advertise it, but that was the case with me. He had an agency back in my hometown, so I started in turning their kind of grew my career maybe around two years working with with him. I mean he was already, you know, the director, but he wasn't like running the creative department, but still, you know, it was it was his shop. So at some point I felt like I needed to search my own kind of path, you know, as as the story goes. And then obviously you think about some follow because it's like the big whole of advertising in Brazil and I had a dream of going there, which was a great, you know, learning experience because, you know, I was you know, I had a year in advertising and then I decided to try and like submit my my book to some agencies there, and then I remember getting into a conversation with a creative director in one of the the agencies in the said as well. I don't think you can get a job here, and that was just like soul crushing to me, just like it was kind of like this wake up pole and I had no idea like the parameters, you know. And then I kind of like did this like full year of like really immersing myself into like the add world. was just like being ultraproactive, making a bunch of new ideas, trying like new things, trying to sell new ideas, and then a year later I came back and I got a job in like four days, which was like really cool. You know, you proved him wrong. I've proved him wrong, and he was like yeah, and he and I went back to him with my new book and he was like, Oh my God, this is just a better time. You're going to get a job. That's amazing. And so, for all of you listeners who are not familiar with your own's work, he's really known for his craft. I mean it's design perfection. You can't explain it in any other way. So it's so funny how these things go. And so, you know, so you moved to some Paulo. What kind of clients and projects did you work on there? Yeah, so it's some poll. I kind of ended up going to why in R which was, at the time, I think it probably still are, the biggest agency in Brazil. So I was just like like straight up working with, you know, the biggest clients, you know, the biggest airline and Brazil biggest cell phone company's called Vivo, which we...

...got some awards with them, and it was kind of like in Brazil, and I'm very thankful to be Brazilian in that way, because at least the culture of our direction in Brazil is something really, really strong. It was just not only not after I moved to America that I understood that here you separate designer and art directors, but back they're like it's kind of like if you're in our director, you're supposed to design. So it's kind of like a mandatory. Yeah, coming from Finland it's exactly the same. So, you know, I arrived in America and it was kind of like a what what do you mean? You're an art director, you can't design this mock up for me? Exactly, Godd it was really odd. When I got here I was like, Oh wow, so art directors are really concept people, you know, Id Asian people here. But yeah, so it was in Brazil that kind of like it got into this regime, and I remember like the first time I like I was shown like this layout that was really proud of to my creative director, and then he did this odd thing. He was set, he's set on my desk and he zoomed on my layout like three hundred percent and he started to like map out all of the bits of the screen and he started marking. It was like a photography and he was just like marking little notes in every detail that I could make it better. And by the end when he pulled out as like had like fifty five notes all over the thing and I was just like, oh my goodness, and then I addressed all the fifty five notes and then I was like the image got significantly better and I just wasn't able to see the beginning. And that's kind of like how I learned a little bit of like getting into detail. You know, the idea of the devil is in the details. It's really something that I learned there and kind of like brought it here with me my journey, and I guess that's also the reason that you today. You just recently got promoted to head of design at Molin low. So tell me what does that entail? What's your day to dame like today? Who Do you work with? Yeah, I know, it's amazing. I think I'll backtrack a little bit just to contextualize the thing that, you know, in Brazil, obviously, if you want to do great work, there's a huge part of it that relies on being proactive and trying things out. You know, if you know a photographer, you call them like can you can we try this thing out? Can I? Can you experiment with a light like this and that not always scoped in the budget, as something that just that you're passionate and kind of like work with people to try and get like into a better place, and then, you know, working with that and like that sort of like mindset, I realized that it was much easier to sell work when the client could see what you were trying to explain. So that was kind of like when the key turn to me was like, Oh, maybe we should be better as agencies in showing closer to what the final product would be so the clients could buy. Yeah, so then, like I at a movie when I when I got here seven years ago, we kind of had a little bit of that experiment going on where we kind of introduced photography studio inside the agency. We had like interns that could for photograph and we started, like you, really using our inner resources and like perfecting that over the years and then, like I realized how much that helped clients to to visualize the work and actually buy it. Sometimes we ran campaigns that were shot internally. So that kind of knowledge and that's kind of like scrappy, like way of Brazilian way of like doing things, is kind of like what's parked me like to have the vision and I started to talk to the ECD, which is is now left. Well and low is not back in the...

UK, but he was with me kind of like crafting this vision. We don't even call it a design studio, we call it a maker's space, because that's kind of like the drive in the mentality is to like get this group of people who have this scrapping mentality, who know, people who are excited about the work or multi disciplinary, who can do typography, who've can do illustration, who can photograph, who can, you know, make d comps, like we want to have like kind of like a well rounded team of really great craft people and then and work and then that's where the my art direction side and concept side come in, which is kind of like I want to with this project, with this maker space. I want to bridge the the world of design and the world of campaigns and kind of like the level of detail and attention that the design industry does for branding. You know that every little thing that you choose, the button, the font, everything has a reason behind it. I wanted to bring that into the campaign worlds. Whenever the team's come up with the new concept, the new idea, new platform, we apply, we bring that concept in and we apply sort of the same philosophy of design, but towards a campaign. So we sometimes will design specific typeface for a campaign. It's not even for the branding, but for the campaign itself, because the concept asked for it, you know. So it was kind of like bridging that mentality. And then when you talk about, you know, the space itself, we have like six designers and then we're bringing like motion people. We have like a space for a photography studio. We're bringing in a d printer as well, because we're going to start prototyping, won't? We want to into create innovation more into our work. Extreme they're just so much innovation happening, especially when it comes to, like out of the product itself, packaging, and our clients, we have edge well as one of our clients at Moll loow, and, you know, they have so many brands that are, you know, product brands. So it's just great to see also how we can explore design in and, you know, prototyping and think bringing ideas to the packaging themselves, you know. So it's a little bit of everything. It's focused on selling like creative ideas and campaigns and it is absolutely the right approach. You know, one of the things that I have to give a shout out to my I always call them my Alma Mater, TV Wa he'll Sinki, because that's where I got my start in advertising, and they had that approach. They have product designers, they have d designers and really what you just describe makers. And so ideas can take just so many different forms that go just beyond that campaign idea. But then can plug into the campaign. Can it be a physical product? Can you revamp a CPG, brands, packaging? There's just so many mediums that we can take and use that go beyond that. You know, facebook story or your classic Super Bowl Commercial, and so I'm going to be following you guys closely and seeing what you're going to make in the upcoming MOMS and and and year and so saying on the on the notion of craft in digital advertising, and I'm sure you're seeing this pressure with brands where they have to constantly push out and produce and have their partners and agencies produce more and more and more content just to stay alive and stay afloat and stay top of mind. What do you think about this sort of quality first versus quantity? And how can you protect a brand when, let's say, someone as big as edge well or any other type of global advertiser needs to show up in different languages and markets all the time and that can really recavoc on the brand equity? Yeah, I think, honestly, there's no there's no...

...magic to that. I believe. I am a strong believer in guidelines and it creating in strong guidelines. I feel like the more work you put in the upfront of the project by kind of predicting the many scenarios, you'll ever be able to predict all the scenarios in which the campaign's going to live or did different countries or the different, you know formats, but you can create enough versions in a guideline that will kind of like lock something in that whenever there's a new art director designer that's going to pick it up, you know in Asia or whatever, there's enough information there that they won't be able to kind of derail the purpose of it. So I'm a strong believer in building, you know, campaign tool kids that are fully, you know, a robust and complete and kind of like trying to oversee every scenario because in my experience, you know, the the thinner your tool kit is, you know, the more room there is for people to reinterpret it in their own way. And you know, when you're trying to like keep up cohesion with your narrative and your brand, look you have to you kind of have to like draw it all out. I feel I have not found any other better answer yet. If you have, please tell me. I actually love that you say that because you know, one of the things that are software does is automates the sort of the the production off or the scaling off global tool kits. So instead of having them live in maybe digital asset management systems or even offline design tools, or on Google, driver dropbox. They now live in the cloud and their templates that are dynamic but accessible by these different designers and different teams around the world. But, like you said, certain elements are locked in. You know, a designer all the way in Thailand can't, can't mess up the entire creative by just redesigning it from scratch, which often happens when campaign tool kids are not done the right way or are distributed the old school way of just like sending and shipping files back and forth. So I love hearing that because I can see that alignment sort of what we're doing in the space and what you also see that needs to be done for brands. And with that I also wanted to ask do you think that agencies today are good enough at guiding their brands in creating for all of these different consumer touch points, or do you feel like there's still this sort of old school way of agencies pushing that one medium makes and package of the idea, but they don't really think about how this is actually going to live in the live media plans? Yeah, I mean I think honestly. You know, I have the benefit of working at a global agency, so I think again, we try to do that in the up front. So we try to stay connected with all the markets before, like while we're building the guidelines, so we don't make that mistake, you know, later on. So it's kind of like, no, we just did that with nore, one of our accounts. You know, we had a we had a global meeting about the guidelines where we kind of like Matt with the London Team and other teams, just to kind of like way in on every aspect and hyper cooled think told translate into different markets. I think, yeah, there's no easy recipe. To me, it's like really putting everything together in the same room and kind of like you know, this works here, this doesn't work here, we need to change this and or that. It's no easy fix, unfortunately, so far. So in addition to the creation and distribution of campaying tool kids globally, what do you think are some of the other things that brands are struggling with the most right now when it comes to marketing? I mean, if you think about I mean more like a wider lends into that issue.

I think to me that the biggest problems brands are earth based and right now is its understand who they're competing against, and I think there's still a reminiscent of this sort of like categorized sort of setting, you know, where it brands think that they're competing against the other brands in their segment and I think, you know, with the Internet, you're not competing against other brands, you're competing against the best content that's out there that's unrelated to advertising. And I think, you know, brands tend to get satisfied if they feel like they're just doing a little bit better than their competitors, but they're still falling way shorter than like the beauty of the Internet and the content that's created every day. So I think it's to me it's important to try to make brands understand more who they're, who they're fighting against or their actual enemy is like the most click videos, most sharable content that's out there at that's unrelated to advertising and because you're fighting for attension. So that that, I think, is something that I feel like brands will kind of catch chump, or some of them are starting to catch up, but I feel like, you know, the big body of brands still needs to kind of like incorporate that understanding that you know, we're fighting against that the Internet, with fighting against cat videos, and it's kind of like you have to be engaging, which I think also advertising kind of like got into a sort of like, you know, plateau, whereas product innovation is kind of like I think about my own use of the Internet and how what adds kind of like captivate me, and more often than not I'm captivated by product innovation than advertising. You know, like the other day I was looking at this new raisor called supply, you know, and it's just like such a cool design and like their ads are not amazing there as very product centric, but the products are so innovative that, you know, it caught my attention. So I feel like what's happening the revolution that's happening in like actual creativity in developing new products. You know, we should start a catch back ups as a marketing again and like if we can marry the too as a killer combination, you know, great, great campaign, creative campaign with like, you know, a very innovative product. Yeah, for example, I just saw Pannera bread, come out with a swim wear line and they had their cheddar and Broccoli soup translated into a women's swim suit, which I just found, ha ha, hilarious and fantastic. I don't know if I would wear Broccolis on the beach, but you know, it caught my eye and I still remember it, so I could mission accomplished. It's an accomplished for sure. So I want to hear an unpopular opinions. So what's an industry convention or a belief that everyone else buys that you are vehemently against? Okay, that's a that's a that's a good intrinty quession. So I do have one opinion that I think. You know, it's one of those that you kind of like say it like not very loudly because you don't know who's the WHO's in the room. But I believe our industry kind of like overestimates the ability of the consumer to follow along a brand narrative. So I think brand platforms, they're really for the big ones, you know, like I think Coca Cola and Nike American Express, like these IBMs, these huge, massive brands. They can have a platform, a ten year platform, and I feel like because they're so present in a daily life of consumers, they can kind of follow through with like the nuances that the new chapters you add to the story of the brand, they'll be...

...able to catch up. But speak brands, but kind of like smaller than these giant ones. They tend to overestimate, you know, how much the consumer is aware of their own narrative. So I tend personally, depending on the size of your brand and the amount of awareness around it, that you should be more campaign led. I think the tone of voice, she always be the same, you know, she always be we are as a brand, you know. But if you if you create a campaign or if you if you came up with like a five year platform, you know, with the ear one campaign and it didn't go well, you're not as big as as you think. I would say. Just you know, throw it, through it out, come up with a new one. You know, I I believe that, you know, midsize brands should be more campaign led than platform led, because I feel like otherwise it just feels like they're talking to themselves. Like this idea of your two year three is like people. The people are not following that. You don't even know what's going to happen in pop culture or, you know, social media platforms in two to three years. It's it's a good point and I think like a lot of brand marketers and brand leader cmls, they become so married with those platforms, is that it makes it easy for them to hide behind them and also maybe a no to ideas that diverge a little bit from that story, which in turn will hinder them from telling stories that could actually break through to the audience and also drive revenue. Exactly exactly you just you created this mold that you know if if it's not working, you know, just because I don't know, just the industry convey and should people have to stick with it, but it's just not working. We just, I believe we just have to be more honest, like that campaign did not go well, so let's let's move on. You know, retaining the tone of the brand. That's very important, but you know, new campaign, new idea, let's move on. I think that's that's the way if you're like amid size level, you know brand for sure, absolutely. And then another thing that I wanted to get your take on is, you know, obviously can just happen. All be virtually and you know, I've watched all of the winning case studies and it feels like everybody's doing this like mission driven story and you know, we're saving the world again with advertising, as Bo burn and put it. And and so what about pure play business cases? So should we all now like be standing for something, or should we just like go back to also warding cases that just like sold a ton of Shit? You know, I fully agree with you or fully with you and and I witnessed over the years so many great campaigns that are doing what we're supposed to do, which is sell, and you know, they just get like kind of like swept under the road for these kind of like save the world ideas, which I believe some of them are, and that's kind of like a little bit subjective, but I believe some, some brands really have the leverage to help change politically things. You know, for example, Nike with the Colin Kaepernick I think that's a great example of a brand it has political leverage and using that for the good. Obviously that will help them sell more more shoes, but at the end of the day they are helping, you know, move the needle. The problem to me is when brands just like it's it doesn't feel genuine, you know, when they're just jumping in it on like a bandwagon that's just clearly with the...

...intention to make their brand look better and sell more because of that. But it just doesn't feel genuine. I remember when I moved to New York and I went to to watch the gay per rate for the first year that I was in two thousand and fourteen, and and I was, I was, I was on the street super excited and all of a sudden I saw this kind of like cars and cars of like brand's kind of like jumping in and I was like like, but what are you really doing for the cause, you know, and then like kind of like research a little bit and like many of these brands there, I'm just like putting their car out there to like look good, and I don't think that's ideal, you know. Yeah, and I like if you're doing good, it's like maybe you don't need to throw it on people's faces so much. You know, you just do good. You have your initiative and you donate and you you have a charity, have a cause, or however you're helping as a brand. But like once you've turned that your platform and like you're you know, I don't know, I just, yeah, I have a little bit of an issue with that and I think there needs to be just something in the brand DNA that gives you the permission to do that. Like, for example, I've I've had a few guests on the show. For example, we've discussed this with parks project, which is an ECOM that sells teas and home goods that have these national park logos and designs, but their whole company is built on this giveback model and they support national parks and and and other types of conservation projects and they're that sort of brand alignment with the cause is so clear. But I think also for our industry, I would like to see the future a war show was put in a field where, if you did a charitable campaign, I want to see hardcore results give I love that. Numbers, I love that. How much money did this raise? How many, I don't know, school shootings did this prevent? Because if you can show that, you are just doing sort of almost like this cause porn for the lack of better word. I agree, I fully agree with you and and and I think we're also doing a disservice to the whole industry, a disservice to young creatives in our field when we're telling them that you can only win awards with these sappy, Tiery case studies for some horrible tragedy that somehow marketing helped solve, and we're not telling them that you should actually put your creative thinking and your best ideas to those every day bread and butter campaigns, that Breese, that you're also working on. Like that's where I want to see more of the award winning work come from in the next years. So absolutely, absolutely, and I think, like I say, I think the consumer is very aware of that already. They can call the bullshit immediately, you know, with all the little icon flags and like. It's just like people, people, people are aware of what you're doing. So maybe it's time to get serious about it. And don't get me wrong, I think all the brands should help, you know, should be involved and should help change the world. Every brand should have us, should, sign some shape or form, help out whatever situation that needs help. It's just like when you start to use that to leverage your your product. It just feels this in genuine yeah, and I think in the and it's not just about doing, you know, hardcore sales campaigns. I were coming out of this year and a half of like very bleak and depressing times and everybody wants a little bit of joy in their lives. So how can brands now tap into that joy and optimism? And I know the pandemic still ongoing and it's like it's going to be ups and downs, but I think, you know, telling stories around the positive sentiment, joy, entertainment and fun and comedies is something that I think...

...the audience is really hungry for and I'm hoping to see more brands do that in the near term. Oh, absolutely, you know. Yeah, I'm a comedy fan and I think whenever brands, you know they're they're good at making poking fun of themselves, it's always a good thing. I feel it's healthy, it's more honest and more engaging. I think that everybody, every brand, is funny on twitter, but can you actually be funny in a super bowl commercial? That's my sort ha ha, I love that. Love that. Yeah, I'M gonna HAVE gonna write that down as I as I sit and watch the next super bowl. Yeah, yeah, you can tell that to your clients when you're pitching your next all commercial scripts. We actually have a brief coming in for a super bowl and so jealous. Well, we'll be seeing that next. I think it's in February. February. Yeah, yeah, they're right. First Amazing. Well, this was such a great conversation. I'm sure audience will also enjoy it. If people want to connect with you, where can they find you? Yeah, great, yeah, you can find me on my email is first and last thing, which Christine knows how to say. It is Juala pause Joao the A Z three hundred and two at gmailcom perfect. I hope they don't flood your inbox. But yeah, acors you all if you want to discuss craft or advertising or anything in between. Yeah, thank you so much for being on. Thank you everybody for listening. Again, if you like what you heard, maybe you share this on Linkedin or maybe you give us five stars or even a review. I would really appreciate that and we'll see you or hear you in the next episode. Thanks everyone, and thanks Christine for having me. You've been listening to Braham side. If you like what you heard, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about creative production automation, is IT SULTRACOM? Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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