What it takes to succeed in advertising

Print was one of two of the most loved media up to the last days of 2005. Because we handled a telecom account, doing a print ad excited us no end. For one, the waiting time of seeing the fruits of our hard work was short. It would surely come out on the coming weekend, and whoa, humongous–no less than full page or centerspread.

The cycle went on and on, especially when the battle of telco giants raged like wildfire and reached its peak. Media agencies got rich, while we, creators, happy enough to see our masterpieces come out in its full glory. Along with the fast pace of handling an account that required you to churn out ideas just as fast, we also worked on ad agency initiative  No. We loved our work.

Naturally, we needed more brains. Instead of hiring from other ad agencies, we thought training people straight out of college would be the best thing to do. And so, one morning of a fine day, I was greeted with the news that a new graduate from Ateneo would drop by the office, and train in my department.

Noah Valdez wanted to be an art director. “If that was the case, I will make you think visually rather than draw figures literally,” my advice to him when we first met.

I gave Noah a deathly boring assignment every single day for one month: Restructure a tagline and allow him to craft his own based on that sentence. That was all he needed to do every morning and come up with the same batch in the afternoon. It sounded crazy, but the idea was for him to turn boring moments into day-altering mindful exercises, and allow his mind to wonder. I thought, it was not very often that one gets the chance to sit and relax, and I believed that when people are given tasks that give them a chance to daydream, they’re more likely to be creative.

Noah turned the mundane tasks of many days into magical moments writing copy. He made himself productive. We immersed him into the Bill Bernbach culture and exposed him to bunch of reels from our New York Madison Avenue office. We brought him to pre-production meetings and shoots. Our senior art directors took turns in handling him, working on Apple computer softwares.

We had our weekly “Ads from all over the world” viewing and internal Cannes competitions. Soon, the young man became adept at great layouts, clean, uncluttered, minimalist, ads without copy and headlines–ads I had hoped he would do. He eventually became part of our daily grind.

A few more months and he was part of my New York Festivals world medal-winning ad, “Stamp,” and countless more. As I wrote on my last day in the office before taking on a Malaysia assignment, “he would be one of the great boys of the Philippine ad industry.” True enough, he is on his way.

Noah moved to Bates 141 in 2008, handled by other award-winning creative directors. He returned to Tribal DDB after four years, then rejoined Bates CHI and Partners as creative director on the same year. In 2015 he reached the top and was appointed executive creative director, handling Wyeth, NBA and Pizza Hut, among others.

Noah and his team were responsible for the successes of Wyeth’s growing-up milk brand, Bonakid Pre-School. Musically inclined (it runs in the family), he helped develop a catchy tune that grew into a viral hit. The campaign eventually spawned many dance videos, parodies and spoofed by a well-known local tv show.

Tireless, passionate, eager and, most of all, always strategic, Noah was in the team that won the Pizza Hut business in the Philippines. If you see all those Pizza Hut commercials on TV, he had a direct hand creating them. He’s gone a long way and attended a number of regional ad conferences and built a career through sheer hard work.

How is he doing these days? Let’s take a closer look at the millennial hotshot who is rocking his agency and steering it to more successes.

You have been in advertising for quite some time, what made you stick?

I’ve always considered myself an adman by accident and I’ve been very lucky to have great mentors all these years. I guess what really made me stick to advertising is the opportunity to learn from new people every day. I also love the excitement and rush that you constantly get with the chance to handle different types of brands, both local and international.

To be successful in advertising, what do you think people should have and cultivate?

It’s really about patience, persistence, excitement and an undying passion to learn and create. Without these traits, you’ll never make it.

What is creativity to you?

Creativity doesn’t just pop out of nowhere. In fact, it takes a lot of work to be creative. I believe that when it comes to ideas, you can only contribute what you’ve exposed yourself to. So, yeah, before you ‘become creative,’ you have to love being inspired first.

What do you look for in a person who wants to work in your department?

I’m always on the lookout for someone who can bring something new to the team. Someone with a different point of view, a different background, a different writing or art style—someone I can mentor but someone I can learn from, as well.

People say advertising is not what it used to be, let’s focus on pitching or acquiring new business. If you agree or disagree, why and why not.

I think it’s more competitive now when it comes to pitches. There are a lot of smaller and younger shops that are definitely capable of nabbing new business wins against more established, multinational agencies.

What is your style of creative management?

I always try to make sure that creativity isn’t forced. True, our daily lives are filled with deadlines but, as much as possible, I want my team to always be inspired to create great work. So I constantly share tidbits of amazing work, ranging from the best of the industry to the best of what people are doing to change the world. Thank God for Facebook groups.

How do you begin your day in the office?

I love coming to work before everyone else. The calm and quiet relaxes me and prepares me for the day ahead. I usually start off with a cup of coffee and a light snack, preparing my game plan for the day as I engage in a staring contest with my calendar.

Describe yourself in a few words.

Alone, at home and at work.

The five  things you like in advertising?

  1. The competitive nature of the industry; 2. It’s constantly changing and never boring; 3. Working with different types of talented people; 4. The opportunity to handle great brands; 5. Being exposed to inspiring work from all over the world

The five things you hate about it.

Just 2.1. The late nights (of course) 2. Stress eating

Traditional or digital? We’ve heard so many discussions about the two, your views?

I’m all for the discipline of traditional advertising, but I’m absolutely excited about the potential of digital advertising.

What medium do you think will give a client much value for his marketing money?

Broadcast TV is still king, but it also requires a king-sized budget. I feel that, if done correctly, social and digital can give clients so much value for their money because of all the specific parameters you can set.

What’s your favorite medium?

Print! Although it’s a medium that’s slowly dying, I love the challenge of having to figure out how to best capture your target audience with one strong piece of communication without you getting the chance of presenting. It’s all or nothing when it comes to print.

Do you get intimated when faced with big names in the industry, let’s say during a pitch?

I find myself excited with the challenge of going up against people I look up to and respect.

What do you think industry people should do more to keep it more vibrant, relevant and attuned with the times?

I think the industry should continue educating and inspiring the next generation of admen. A lot of the best in the industry have invested time in teaching in universities, which is absolutely admirable. These people are keeping our industry relevant. Hats off to them.

How did you start your advertising career?

I started my career not knowing much about advertising or art direction so I’ll always be grateful for that one person who gave me a shot—my first boss. So I basically learned everything on the job; from using Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Freehand back in the day to understanding what it took to win new business and awards. And I’m proud to say that I learned how to source stock photos the hard way by scanning images from Getty Images books. Yes. There was no web site back in 2003. You young art directors are so damn lucky. Cherish it.

Your greatest achievement?

Marrying the one that got away, of course.

 

 

 

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Turning Points 2018