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Bad Education

Posted on January 2, 2013 and read 2,566 times

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Natalia Casas
Senior Copywriter

I have two kids. The girl is 26, the boy, 23. They are smart, vivacious, full of energy and they are always ready and willing to work, and never say no to me. And I love that. But sometimes, I have to confess, I have to tell them to chill and I have to say no.

Let me explain: I’m only 38. So it’s physically impossible that they are my children. And I didn’t (legally) adopt them. So how did that happen, you may ask?

At the agency I’m the person who works day-to-day with these two creative minds. No, they are not my real children but I look at them as if they were. My CCO bestowed that responsibility upon me, and the 3 of us have created a mini-team that works 24/7, a group of two copywriters and one art director.

As I was standing in front of J, the young art director, on her first day at the office, many questions came to mind. And some of the same queries are on my mind right now, now that R has become a part of our team. How do I teach these young minds to work hard or to understand the nuances of the art of talking to clients? How do I teach them to fight for what they believe in and at the same time to take and implement feedback? And my favorite one, how do I help them to maintain their “hispanicity” and at the same time learn to talk to general market consumers?

Back to the basics

Kids don’t come with a book of instructions and I didn’t really know what kind of mother I was until these two children came to my life. After all, I’m not only older but I worked as a journalist for 10 years before making the switch to Hispanic advertising over 6 years ago. So I have experience, but I don’t know it all. Therefore, I decided to do what many clients ask of us when planning a new campaign: test the concepts and learn with them.

For instance, why do they have to come in first and leave last? Some would say it’s the price juniors have to pay, but I would like to offer another reason. I want them to really understand, for example, why the chosen target is “first generation Hispanic moms” or why English is the target language and not Spanish, or vice versa. So I take them to every single meeting and encourage them to ask lots of questions. They need to be involved as much as possible on every aspect of the strategic and creative process. They need and want to be heard, and by pushing them to speak up, I’m also teaching them to form and provide their own opinions, a key quality in the advertising field.

Of course, encouraging questions has a drawback. When they have question I don’t have the answer for, but they stare at me with inquisitive eyes, I panic and most of the time—like many other parents do—divert the question and simply respond: ‘go ask Renata’ (our CCO).  It’s a cheap escape, but we all end up learning something by talking to the CCO.

Reaping what you sow

Fortunately for me, I’m a hovering mother. I say this because my need to be with my children at all times has taught me a great deal. They are Latinos like me, but they are younger and have been in the U.S. for a shorter period of time, so they bring new perspective to my life. My hope is to always be open to them and take them more seriously.

Also, my main purpose for their education has been to teach them about the things those who have been in the Hispanic advertising industry for a while tend to forget. Things like getting out of the office and meeting the target audience, making a real effort to see the world through their eyes. This is especially important for us, who talk to a dynamic audience composed not only of Spanish speakers with different cultural backgrounds, but also Hispanic-American, who are group on their own.

When I became a parent, I decided to have “a bigger purpose.” I want young minds to be better than those from my generation. I want them to stay away from sombreros and other obvious “Hispanic” clichés. I want them to go further.

So this is my challenge to my “advertising children” and other children at agencies all over: pick our brains, dare to challenge us, ask questions and continue to nurture your lives with all the things that makes us Hispanics in America. After all, if I’ve learned something in life, it is to confirm what my mentor in advertising told me once: “the best inspiration for great advertising is not advertising itself….” So get out there, kids. See the world, win awards, be yourselves. The credit will be all yours, and we will all be so proud of you.




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