Spain: Viva La Evolución
shots examines the challenges of the ad scene in Spain, which hopes to rise like a phoenix from the economic ashes.
In Spain it mainly rains on the plain but right now the country is drenched by a whole sea of troubles. So how well can adland’s shakers and movers ride the waves of Euro-doubt and social and economic uncertainty?
Ask anyone in Spain about the country’s recent fortunes and, once their face has contorted back to a recognisable form and they’ve sucked in a huge lungful of air and blown it back out through their teeth, their first sentence will always include the name of another country: Greece.
“You hear that Greece is going out of the Euro and Spain is next,” winces Martin Contel, although he does so from a plush new office in a prime location in Barcelona, where the company he works for, Glassworks, sticks two defiant fingers up at the crisis every day. “We understand the situation so we have to deal with it. Times are going to change. I prefer to close my ears and keep working!” he says. (Read more about Glassworks on page 68 of shots 137.)
What is clear from all corners of the industry is that it’s essential to be adaptable. Those still trying to make a living out of TVCs and print will soon find themselves, if they haven’t already, closing their doors for good. “We don’t have a huge TV production department but we make a lot of pieces for the internet, because we try to find a way; not to just stay crying in front of the crisis, watching how everything is going down,” says Juan Nonzioli, ECD and co-founder of agency Shackleton. Although he still loves big TV spots and believes the audio/visual medium is the best way to reach people, he admits that there are now more feasible platforms for work. “We want to find different ways to communicate and right now the rules have changed and we have to accept it.” (You can learn about how his agency has stayed ahead of the game on page 66 of shots 137.)
Ringing the changes
On the production side, most of the bigger projects have come from abroad, with the UK, France and Argentina helping to keep Spanish production houses going and providing more creative scripts for local directors to shoot. But doing smaller local projects isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says Assaf Eldar, producer at Landia Madrid. “Doing small productions can be good because they focus on Spanish idiosyncrasies,” he explains, also pointing to how the production industry has had to adapt just like the agencies. “This sort of situation makes you learn a lot of things. Two years ago we would have said, ‘no way, we can’t do it,’ on the budgets we’re getting today, but now we’ve learned ways to do it.”
Alvaro Weber, executive producer at Barcelona production company Smile, has been learning too. He spent a lot more time inside the Palais at Cannes this year: “The world is changing and it’s good to understand where we’re going. I want to upgrade myself with those changes.” His company is run by a staff with diverse skill sets, including MD and executive producer Sandy Reay, who has worked at Coca-Cola and Carlsberg and also as an agency producer at W+K Amsterdam. “We understand all sides [of the business] and we try to make a combination where everyone works together. We think we can survive because we’re more prepared to change.”
In the past, creatives flocked from Argentina to Spain because they spoke the language and they wanted to work in a mature, creative market. Some of them branched further out into Europe, but those who stayed have recently been heading back to their homeland. But despite this there are still talented people here, and the profiles you’ll see on the next eight pages attest to that, as do the pages of Club de Creativos’ Spanish Advertising Annual, although even that has had an overhaul. This year, for the first time ever, the entries were split not by media category, but into Ideas and Execution, with work judged against other campaigns in the same markets, regardless of platform.
“Sometimes [in the past] we realised that there was work that invented or reinvented media or that the real creativity was there even before the work adopted a form for a concrete media,” says Concha Wert, Club de Creativos manager. “Of course we changed the categories every year, and added new ones, but that wasn’t enough. We realised that there were two things that determine the quality of any work: the idea that leads to the work and the way it has been produced, so we decided to separate the two of them and judge them separately, the experience and the balance being really good.”
Slumping towards luxury
When the ad industry is in a slump it’s nice to do something a bit different and Barcelona production company boolab was presented with the chance to do just that in collaboration with Loewe, Spain’s only truly luxury brand. Together they created the Loewe Gallery, an open-to-all, free, interactive experience in a large space on the Passeig de Gracia where the public can ogle, touch and smell the brand’s famous bags, while learning about how they’re designed and made. “It was very refreshing indeed,” says Lucas Elliot, creative and production supervisor at boolab. “Loewe offered us a lot of creative freedom, and encouraged us to elaborate a language that was more experiential than literal, aiming to the emotional side of the visitor.” The result is a kind of anti-museum, giving people who can’t afford to buy the products an opportunity to connect with the brand.
There’s no doubt that times are hard in Spain at the moment but the industry’s wiliest thinkers will continue to find ways to evade the clutches of the crisis and keep their creative juices, as well as the cash, flowing… once they’ve exhaled that huge lungful of air, that is.
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