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Agency Life

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

February 26, 2018

Fuel Lisboa’s João Ribeiro shares how one short sentence launched his entire career.

Fuel Lisboa Business Development Director João Ribeiro’s journey into the world of advertising began with a one-sentence email. Talk about effective.

Since that fateful email, Ribeiro, one of Havas’ “Best Pitch Doctors”, has helped Fuel win notable pitches, including the recent National Lottery win.

We chatted with Ribeiro to learn about his journey to the agency and got his thoughts on the current landscape of advertising.

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I started my professional career in 2003 as a strategic planner at BBDO Portugal. After four years, I was headhunted to work as a communications director for a holding company that dealt with agriculture, biofuels, trading, real estate, and diamonds in South Africa, Angola, and Brazil.

I survived and joined Fuel Lisboa (Havas Creative Business) in 2008 as head of strategy. In 2012, I took a one-year, full-time MBA at Nova and Católica Universities in collaboration with MIT Sloan Business School. I returned to Fuel in 2013 as Business Development Director, and I was awarded Havas Creative’s “Best Pitch Doctor” in 2014.

And I’ll stop now, since this is starting to sound like a LinkedIn profile.

"In that moment I learned that if I kept things simple and true, I could succeed in this business."

 

And so, give us some insight into your responsibilities as head of new business at Fuel Portugal.
My main role is to keep telling myself and Fuel’s team that this one is really the most important pitch, and that when it’s finished, things will calm down. And to maintain my sanity and credibility at the same time.

What’s the most interesting thing about working at Havas?
We are a team of 69 people at Fuel Lisboa, and 68 of them are extremely nice. Trying to find, motivate, and excel talent is very exciting.

Tell us about an epiphany in your career.
I was hired for my first job by sending a one-sentence email (no attachments): “An idiot wants an internship.”

In that moment I learned that if I kept things simple and true, I could succeed in this business.

What’s something you feel agencies will have to provide in the future that perhaps they don’t provide now?

I believe that agencies need more in-house technological brains to stimulate imagination for the future.

What do you feel is imperative to know when talking to potential clients?

It is imperative to know how to listen actively and to ask smart questions.

What’s your best prediction about the future of advertising?

The future of advertising will be based on a virtuous cycle between technology and ideas.

 

"Be curious. Build a trustworthy network. Be ready to adapt."

How will technology continue to change the landscape of advertising?

We will no longer communicate low-involvement products to people. We will have algorithms fed by our data targeting our AI personal assistants who are connected to digital warehouses that will take care of sending the orders to fill in our kitchen cabinets.

In our daily routines, we will depend more on sound and less on text. We will not be lost in translation anymore. We will use more simple visual images. The challenge for advertising is to find an opportunity to catch potential consumers in those special moments where they allow brands to have some space and time to evolve and call on emotions.

What advice do you have for those at the beginning of their careers, say in their 20s and 30s?

Have fun doing what you do. Mingle with people from different areas of interest. Be curious. Build a trustworthy network. Be ready to adapt. Take care of your personal style (I could have been rich if I had chosen better outfits). And, an idea can come from anyone at the agency.

Fuel Lisboa Business Development Director João Ribeiro’s journey into the world of advertising began with a one-sentence email. Talk about effective.

Since that fateful email, Ribeiro, one of Havas’ “Best Pitch Doctors”, has helped Fuel win notable pitches, including the recent National Lottery win.

We chatted with Ribeiro to learn about his journey to the agency and got his thoughts on the current landscape of advertising.

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I started my professional career in 2003 as a strategic planner at BBDO Portugal. After four years, I was headhunted to work as a communications director for a holding company that dealt with agriculture, biofuels, trading, real estate, and diamonds in South Africa, Angola, and Brazil.

I survived and joined Fuel Lisboa (Havas Creative Business) in 2008 as head of strategy. In 2012, I took a one-year, full-time MBA at Nova and Católica Universities in collaboration with MIT Sloan Business School. I returned to Fuel in 2013 as Business Development Director, and I was awarded Havas Creative’s “Best Pitch Doctor” in 2014.

And I’ll stop now, since this is starting to sound like a LinkedIn profile.

"In that moment I learned that if I kept things simple and true, I could succeed in this business."

 

And so, give us some insight into your responsibilities as head of new business at Fuel Portugal.
My main role is to keep telling myself and Fuel’s team that this one is really the most important pitch, and that when it’s finished, things will calm down. And to maintain my sanity and credibility at the same time.

What’s the most interesting thing about working at Havas?
We are a team of 69 people at Fuel Lisboa, and 68 of them are extremely nice. Trying to find, motivate, and excel talent is very exciting.

Tell us about an epiphany in your career.
I was hired for my first job by sending a one-sentence email (no attachments): “An idiot wants an internship.”

In that moment I learned that if I kept things simple and true, I could succeed in this business.

What’s something you feel agencies will have to provide in the future that perhaps they don’t provide now?

I believe that agencies need more in-house technological brains to stimulate imagination for the future.

What do you feel is imperative to know when talking to potential clients?

It is imperative to know how to listen actively and to ask smart questions.

What’s your best prediction about the future of advertising?

The future of advertising will be based on a virtuous cycle between technology and ideas.

 

"Be curious. Build a trustworthy network. Be ready to adapt."

How will technology continue to change the landscape of advertising?

We will no longer communicate low-involvement products to people. We will have algorithms fed by our data targeting our AI personal assistants who are connected to digital warehouses that will take care of sending the orders to fill in our kitchen cabinets.

In our daily routines, we will depend more on sound and less on text. We will not be lost in translation anymore. We will use more simple visual images. The challenge for advertising is to find an opportunity to catch potential consumers in those special moments where they allow brands to have some space and time to evolve and call on emotions.

What advice do you have for those at the beginning of their careers, say in their 20s and 30s?

Have fun doing what you do. Mingle with people from different areas of interest. Be curious. Build a trustworthy network. Be ready to adapt. Take care of your personal style (I could have been rich if I had chosen better outfits). And, an idea can come from anyone at the agency.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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