- David, it seems you are a globetrotter and a citizen of the world, can you summarize your background/career?
My family is Spanish-American-Cypriot, so being a citizen of the world was actually an easy one for me. I grew up speaking both English and Spanish at home and was lucky to attend an international school in Barcelona which helped me keep an open mind and learn about different cultures. I then studied communications in college and specialized in film and screenplay writing. After working in production of films, TV and advertising I worked on the client side in marketing at Nissan, before finally deciding to get into advertising.
I joined Miami Ad School’s portfolio school which allowed me to do internships in London and the U.S. After graduating, I worked at several agencies in the US: The Community, Deutsch and BBDO NY before moving to Ogilvy Paris to work for Chris Garbutt and Fred Levron. I stayed there almost 4 years before moving to Leo Burnett and finally to BETC. France has given me some incredible opportunities from both a career and personal standpoint. I have been able to produce great work and I’ve even learned a new language!
- What is it about BETC that attracted you to the agency?
BETC isn’t just any French agency. It’s a creative powerhouse. There are few ‘non-anglosaxon’ agencies that command such respect in this business. The work that BETC has been doing for years goes beyond the French culture. They have built global brands, written unforgettable taglines and created award-winning work. It’s impossible to not be attracted to working in a place like BETC.
- What "French" campaign are you most proud of?
I’m really happy with the work I’ve produced for Schweppes France at BETC. It’s an iconic brand here and I feel like I’ve managed to keep it fun and ‘French chic’.
- What "foreign" campaign you are most proud of?
I’m really proud of the work I’ve been doing for Peugeot for the past couple of years. The brand has been turning a page and their cars keep getting more beautiful and technologically advanced. I feel like the work I’ve produced has mirrored that change in a classy, creative way through campaigns like “The Score” and “The Snake”.
I also really enjoyed creating the “Beesexual” for Pornhub. The campaign was really embraced by everyone. Even non-porn lovers.
- What were some of your preconceptions towards the French advertising industry before you landed in Paris? How has your opinion changed?
When I landed in Paris, I was worried that I would never be able to do ‘big’, relevant work like in the U.S. I thought that if it was ‘made in France’, only French people would see it. Nowadays, we all read and follow the same media outlets online so that’s not really the case anymore. Good work from all over the world has never had a better chance of being seen and shared by the whole world.
- What was the most difficult practice within the French advertising industry for you to adapt to?
French people are extremely polite. They always find a classy, ‘suave’ way of saying what they think ‘without saying it’ to avoid sticky situations. Let me say that for those of us who are from cultures that are much more ‘direct’, it takes a while to manage that level of diplomacy!
- Is there a process from another market that you have been able to successfully bring to Paris?
I think teamwork is an intrinsic part of the way Americans work. And that’s really important to the success of any campaign. Sometimes, a campaign requires different people with different strengths. I’ve tried to teach that to the creatives I work with in France. Sometimes letting someone help you out can really elevate the level of your campaign. Especially when that person or persons can bring something new to the table.
- If you were returning to Spain where you grew up, what convention from the French advertising industry would you try to implement?
Probably the ‘French diplomacy’ I was talking about and the craft. In Paris people love to make beautiful things, whether it’s clothing or pastries. That pursuit of beauty in craft is present in their advertising too and I think that is something that any country, including Spain, can learn from.
- How does your culture and background help inspire you for global campaigns? Does it limit you when working on local campaigns?
When you have a multicultural point of view, it really helps to know what ideas can travel and which can’t. I tend to stick to the big, universal insights that are true in most cultures. For local campaigns it’s always a bit harder. Some countries are more similar culture-wise to others, but being a curious person always helps you understand some of the local insights. Until you do, the trick is to stick to universal insights that work everywhere.