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Rising Above the Noise

Rising Above the Noise

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

April 23, 2019

“We should ask ourselves, in each and every brief, whether or not our proposal is interesting and relevant to the public,” says Havas Tribu’s Chief Creative Officer Javier Urbaneja.

"Working in advertising is really good for conversations."

Javier Urbaneja, CCO at Havas Tribu, wanted to be a scientist but found that a career in advertising was just as (if not more) educational. He shares how client briefs lead to a wealth of knowledge on a variety of topics and industries, and how the end result must be “interesting and relevant to the public.”

 

Take us all the way back to childhood. Where are you from and how did your upbringing shape who you are today?

I’m from Santander, a little town in the north of Spain. I come from a humble family, so I had to start working and living alone while I was still finishing my studies. In the long run, I think it made me more independent and skillful than most Spanish people of my same age.

Did you always want to work in advertising?

No. At 10, I wanted to be a scientist. At 13—14, I understood I wanted to be an astrophysicist specifically, so I studied physics. In a context of economic crisis, nobody is paying you to look through a telescope, so eventually I started working as a programmer and I was lucky to land at one of the best digital agencies in Spain. That allowed me to start my creative career.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Too many meetings.

What’s an overlooked aspect of this industry?

You learn a lot, and not only about advertising. You have to dive deep into the client’s business, services and productseach brief leads to intensive research. One day, I realized I knew a lot about banking and financial products, about cars, about retail, about running, about rice…working in advertising is really good for conversations.

On the flip side, is there an industry trend that you wish would go away?

The “best practice” that dictates that content in digital channels has to be short. That’s because it’s uninteresting and irrelevant. A 7-minute video can be a hit.

Also, not a trend, but a constant in our industry I would like to disappear: late hours and poor work-life balance.

What do you look for when hiring a creative?

First: the feeling that the person will get along with the team. Second: talent, which usually manifests as a spark in the eyes when having a conversation about creativity.

"We need to stop polluting the environments we inhabit, we need to stop being the necessary evil...Advertising has to stop being noise."

What do you do when a client says “no” to an idea you know would be a killer?

The first thing I do is be self-critical. Could the idea be more focused so it would be more buyable by the client? Could the presentation be more convincing? Did we present it to the right decision makers?

After I’ve asked myself and the team all that, then I tend to curse and throw some kicks into the airwhich is usually the same reaction I have when the client says “yes,” or even when my team tells me the killer idea for the first time. In fact, they sometimes ask me whether an idea is a “kick idea” or not. As you can see, I’m very passionate about ideas.

Where do you think creativity/advertising is headed?

The Internet was going to revolutionize advertising, but we have ended up interrupting content again. It’s the same pattern as old TV and radio, but with segmentation and clustering. As advertisers, we need to stop polluting the environments we inhabit, we need to stop being the necessary evil, the ones that pay for the Instagram, Facebook and Google servers and payrolls. We should ask ourselves, in each and every brief, whether or not our proposal is interesting and relevant to the public. Advertising has to stop being noise.

What at Havas are you most proud to have worked on?

Not any individual project but having built a strong and talented creative team for the agency. A team that’s not thinking about awards, but about actual quality work. If the work deserves it, the awards will come.

What do you do to relax?

Gaming. A lot. I’m trying to finally beat Fallout 4 now.

And to wrap it up, what’s your life mantra/motto?

Since I can’t stop working yet, I at least try to enjoy the work.

"Working in advertising is really good for conversations."

Javier Urbaneja, CCO at Havas Tribu, wanted to be a scientist but found that a career in advertising was just as (if not more) educational. He shares how client briefs lead to a wealth of knowledge on a variety of topics and industries, and how the end result must be “interesting and relevant to the public.”

 

Take us all the way back to childhood. Where are you from and how did your upbringing shape who you are today?

I’m from Santander, a little town in the north of Spain. I come from a humble family, so I had to start working and living alone while I was still finishing my studies. In the long run, I think it made me more independent and skillful than most Spanish people of my same age.

Did you always want to work in advertising?

No. At 10, I wanted to be a scientist. At 13—14, I understood I wanted to be an astrophysicist specifically, so I studied physics. In a context of economic crisis, nobody is paying you to look through a telescope, so eventually I started working as a programmer and I was lucky to land at one of the best digital agencies in Spain. That allowed me to start my creative career.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Too many meetings.

What’s an overlooked aspect of this industry?

You learn a lot, and not only about advertising. You have to dive deep into the client’s business, services and productseach brief leads to intensive research. One day, I realized I knew a lot about banking and financial products, about cars, about retail, about running, about rice…working in advertising is really good for conversations.

On the flip side, is there an industry trend that you wish would go away?

The “best practice” that dictates that content in digital channels has to be short. That’s because it’s uninteresting and irrelevant. A 7-minute video can be a hit.

Also, not a trend, but a constant in our industry I would like to disappear: late hours and poor work-life balance.

What do you look for when hiring a creative?

First: the feeling that the person will get along with the team. Second: talent, which usually manifests as a spark in the eyes when having a conversation about creativity.

"We need to stop polluting the environments we inhabit, we need to stop being the necessary evil...Advertising has to stop being noise."

What do you do when a client says “no” to an idea you know would be a killer?

The first thing I do is be self-critical. Could the idea be more focused so it would be more buyable by the client? Could the presentation be more convincing? Did we present it to the right decision makers?

After I’ve asked myself and the team all that, then I tend to curse and throw some kicks into the airwhich is usually the same reaction I have when the client says “yes,” or even when my team tells me the killer idea for the first time. In fact, they sometimes ask me whether an idea is a “kick idea” or not. As you can see, I’m very passionate about ideas.

Where do you think creativity/advertising is headed?

The Internet was going to revolutionize advertising, but we have ended up interrupting content again. It’s the same pattern as old TV and radio, but with segmentation and clustering. As advertisers, we need to stop polluting the environments we inhabit, we need to stop being the necessary evil, the ones that pay for the Instagram, Facebook and Google servers and payrolls. We should ask ourselves, in each and every brief, whether or not our proposal is interesting and relevant to the public. Advertising has to stop being noise.

What at Havas are you most proud to have worked on?

Not any individual project but having built a strong and talented creative team for the agency. A team that’s not thinking about awards, but about actual quality work. If the work deserves it, the awards will come.

What do you do to relax?

Gaming. A lot. I’m trying to finally beat Fallout 4 now.

And to wrap it up, what’s your life mantra/motto?

Since I can’t stop working yet, I at least try to enjoy the work.

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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