EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR
HUGE NEW YORK CITY
NYF’s powerhouse Grand Jury represents the most diverse brain trust of prominent advertising creatives from 50 countries around the globe. This esteemed peer-nominated panel provides a 360-degree creative view of the advertising world today.
The 2018 Grand Jury is comprised of Chief Creative Officers, Executive Creative Directors, Creative Directors, Art Directors, Copywriters, Executive Producers and Marketing/PR pro’s all playing a pivotal role in selecting the World’s Best Advertising® winners.
Grand Jury member, Federico “Fede” Garcia serves as Executive Creative Director at Huge, one of the most innovative digital agencies in the general market of the US. His creative work has distinguished himself as a careful, strategic thinker with a sophisticated understanding of visual storytelling and contemporary culture. With a career in advertising spanning over 20 years over three different continents, he brings vast creative experience to the jury panel. Throughout his career he’s earned prestigious advertising awards at some of the industry’s top competitions, including Cannes Lions, D&AD, One Show, Clio, LIA and Effie. Federico’s work has been featured in some of the most influential advertising publications, including reaching the cover of the prestigious Lürzer's Archive Magazine.
New York Festivals: Why judge…and how do you find the time?
Federico Garcia: There’s an expression we all use in our industry when describing work of the highest creative level: “Award-winning work”. There is no other one like that. I’ve used that expression a million times with my teams when setting up expectations. Awards set the bar for the whole industry, is the level we all aspire to reach. Helping set that bar feels something very important to me. So, it takes priority over other things on my schedule.
New York Festivals: What do you expect to learn this year from judging and what do you hope to bring back to your creative team?
Federico Garcia: Personally, I wanna see different points of view. I wanna learn from other judges, see how do they evaluate ideas, what are their parameters, what do they look for, what do they find unique. Hopefully those different points of view will enrich my judgement and in turn help me to elevate my teams’ work with these new (and different) perspectives.
What cultural/social changes do you think will influence this year’s work?
Federico Garcia: I think brands have always had a point of view on what’s happening in our society. But especially this year, in this political climate and with all these things that are happening right now, I feel that we’ll see more brands having a strong point of view, and even taking a strong stand on these social/political issues.
If you were to participate on the Grand Jury ten or fifteen years from now, what changes would you expect to see regarding the work?
Federico Garcia: I don’t know what I expect, but I’ll tell you what I’d love: I’d love advertising to not be an interruption anymore. I’d love that this “advertising that doesn’t look like advertising” motto to be true once and of all, and to see advertising seamlessly integrated into the content that we consume daily. I wanna see people talking about ads the same way they talk about Game of Thrones because to them, it’s the same thing. I wanna see advertising that is “unskippable". And by “unskippable” I don’t mean that you cannot skip, but you don’t want to or need to.
New York Festivals: What are your personal criteria for choosing award-winning work?
Federico Garcia: Envy. If I’d see something that make me jealous, envious, something that I’d kill to have in my own portfolio, that’s award winning to me. My other criteria would be to award creative that has a real impact, that helped build a brand. Gimmicky one-offs done just for show belong in the ad-school, not in the ad industry.
New York Festivals: When judging, what trends do you hope will fade away, and what “old school” trends do you hope will make a resurgence?
Federico Garcia: Don’t know if it’s technically a “trend”, but I’d love to stop seeing advertising that is so tactical and short-term, and I’d love the ‘old-school’ brand-building long-term integrated campaigns to be back. The fact that the average time a CMO stays on his position is 1.5 years has made every campaign in the world very tactical, aiming for quick hits that become viral and fade into oblivion the next day. I wanna see “old-school” platform ideas again, the ones that used to last for years (even decades), ideas that really changed the history of a brand. I’d also hope OOH will come back as it used to be, before it was called OOH. I wanna see again truly amazing billboard advertising back in the streets again. Simple poster, non-gimmicky ads that wow you in a second or two. Like the Spotify campaign, which I love, or the BBH billboard campaign for Google in the UK a few years back.
What was the hardest ad you ever had to create and why?
Federico Garcia: NFL’s “Inside These Lines” Super Bowl spot. The pressure of making a TV spot multiplies exponentially when the ad is gonna air during the Super Bowl. Everyone wants to knock it out of the park and “win” the Super Bowl, but at the same time taking a risk when 140 million pairs of eyeballs are on your spot makes everyone extra-careful. Add on to the equation that clients also need to see some kind of ROI on the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’re investing per second, so you’ll be pressure tested to your limits throughout the process.
In 3 words or less, what do you think about 6 second commercials?
Federico Garcia: The new banner. Nobody really pays attention to it, nobody really clicks on it, and we’re all trying to skip it.
What was the first ad you saw that made you say “wow!” and got you on the track to a career in advertising?
Federico Garcia: A 1992 Argentine spot from an agency that doesn’t exist anymore, for a very old car called Renault 18. The spot played an analogy on a fox hunting, but done with cars. Stunning. My head exploded.
What are your thoughts about clients/brands are creating in-house departments to create their advertising, how will/does this affect the industry regarding creativity in communications?
Federico Garcia: I’m all up for it. There’s not a recipe for great work. I think that great work will always come from great talent, no matter where they work, agency-side or in-house. My only fear about in-house departments is that clients then to be very attached to their own products so they might lose a bit of perspective. I’ve faced countless clients that have put their hearts and souls on creating amazing products so they wanna see every tiny detail of their products on their ads. And I get it, they put an extraordinary amount of work in their products, but it’s also our jobs to bring perspective to tell them that not everything is relevant to their target audience. Also, agencies have bigger creative departments, so they do have the possibility to work with new teams that are not familiar with the product and bring a fresh perspective on the work.
Has the relationship between agency and client changed at all and if so how?
Federico Garcia: I feel that the AOR concept is slowly dying, and I’m not a big fan of that. I grew up in advertising under fee-based relationships and now everything seems to be project based, which is rapidly changing the structure of the agencies and creating a bigger demand for freelancers. Which is pretty much how the entire world is changing. You don’t own things anymore, you just get them for the time you need them. We’re not really far away from an Uber-like, Airbnb-like kind of agency. Call me old-school, but. I prefer to have a relationship with my clients and work together to build a stronger brand.
What philosophy drives your career?
Federico Garcia: Pursue discomfort. The minute you become comfortable and you think you finally got it, it’s the moment that you stop moving forward, you stop growing, and slowly start to fade away.
What’s the single best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Federico Garcia: Know what you’re worth. Be brutally honest about it, but know what you’re worth. And once you know that, never accept anything less than that.
What is your all-time favorite ad? Or What are your top 5 favorite ads from the last 60 years?
Federico Garcia: Double-Life, Playstation. Balls, Sony-Bravia. Think Different, Apple. Good vs. Evil, Nike. Sound of Honda, Honda.
Who gave you your big break in advertising?
Federico Garcia: Three people. First Silvio Panizza and Gastón Bigio, who saw something in me 8 years ago when I got a job at Ogilvy Buenos Aires and help me grew exponentially in just a few years, which eventually led me to taking a CD position at Ogilvy Tokyo. And then Daniel Comar, who was Ogilvy Action APAC ECD, and took me under his wing during my Tokyo years, helping me reach the next level.
Did/do you have a mentor and what have you learned from them?
Federico Garcia: The same three. From Silvio I learned that freedom is empowering. That you don’t need to micromanage your teams, but give them freedom - with the responsibility that comes along. Feeling that you can own a project, that they’re not second guessing you every step of the way, and that they have your back empowers you to a level in which you soar, cause you try so hard not to let them down and wanna live up to the expectation. From Dani I learned that you can lead with kindness, and that you can always be humble no matter how high you got. A guy who’s unfailingly gentle and incredibly selfless, who showed me that when it comes to trying to create great work, there is only room for collaboration and zero rooms for egos. From Gastón, who’s the most driven guy I’ve ever met in my life, I learned that you’re unstoppable. That you can do whatever you want, that the only person stopping you is yourself.
Where do you see ads showing up in the future that we don’t have now?
Federico Garcia: Cornea-sized-screen implants?
If you could work in advertising alongside any one person past or present, who would it be?
Federico Garcia: Some of the Argentinian legends I grew up admiring. For some reason, they’re all copywriters: Fernando Vega Olmos, Ramiro Agulla, Carlos Pérez, Sebastian Wilhem, Leandro Raposo. Last but not least, an art director: Juan Cabral.
How do you tap into creativity? What do you personally do to fan the creative flames?
Federico Garcia: By picking up pad, a pencil and start writing ideas. First a shitty one, then a less shitty one and so on and so forth until you achieve greatness. Once you do that, you keep going and write one better. I don’t believe in creative flames. I only believe in squeezing your brain until it hurts.
What’s the one smartphone app you couldn’t live without?
Federico Garcia: Apple Music. Imagine living life without music. How sad would that be.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Federico Garcia: Tokyo. Lived there and would love to go back. Sadly, the career I want is not there.
Who’s a creative icon that inspires you?
Federico Garcia: J.K. Rowling. Yeah, Potterhead. Proudly so.
Favorite music album of all time?
Federico Garcia: Easy. Disintegration, The Cure.
Favorite travel destination?
Federico Garcia: Again, Tokyo.
What is your mantra for life?
Federico Garcia: Pursue discomfort.
What movie or book best depicts the theme of your life?
Federico Garcia: We are Marshall.
If you’re binge watching…what are you watching?
Federico Garcia: At the time of writing this, Mindhunter on Netflix.