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Nacho Zuccarino

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Basketball Association
The New York Times
Coca Cola
Grey Advertising
Saatchi & Saatchi
Nacho Zuccarino
Country Flag AR
Brand Builder + Creative Executive CCO | Ex-Netflix Product Creative Studio, Ex-Google Zoo, Google Creative Works & Google Marketing | multi-Cannes Lions winner + Speaker + Steering Committee | TEDx Speaker

As a creator, you have your own style. How do you bring balance between your style and the client’s vision?

More than having a particular style, I've got a vision of how to build a brand or take an existing one to the next level. This vision is like a Lego set: you can put it together in a thousand different ways, depending on the brand I'm working with. The dominant style and vision should always belong to the brand itself. My role is just about bringing my experience to the table to add even more value to what's already there.


Can you share your background and how you got started in your career?

After finishing high school, I decided to dive into Advertising. I've always been into drawing and had a knack for spinning stories that kept my friends hooked. Following five years of studying Art Direction at various schools, I unexpectedly fell for Philosophy and kind of shelved my advertising ambitions. I spent the next five years studying and teaching Metaphysics, but eventually, seeing how much fun my friends were having in ad agencies, I got pulled back to my first love. I started leading agencies in Argentina, my home country, and later in Mexico, doing that for 15 years. Then, my interest shifted to technology. After some courses and workshops, I got this amazing chance to join Google to kick off their first creative team in Latin America. Over 8 years at Google, I led various teams, including one focused on promoting Google's AI and Cloud services (and yep, my next big thing after technology was AI). After a 2-year stint in Berkeley, I returned to Latin America to head up regional creative teams again, first at Google, then at Netflix, where I oversaw the communication for all the titles launched in the region.


How do you balance delivering a high-quality output with meeting tight deadlines?

It really depends on the timelines and the SOW. The aim is always to churn out top-notch creative ideas, but within a realistic timeframe – something that needs to be sorted out and agreed upon with the customer beforehand. It's crucial to touch base with the client before getting started, to figure out what level of delivery is doable within the time we've got. From what I've seen, it's way more effective to line up a bunch of smaller deliverables within your timeline. This means setting a regular rhythm for reviewing work with clients and putting together lots of little agreements before you hit the final presentation, rather than banking everything on one huge delivery date right before the deadline. I'm a big believer in keeping an open, ongoing chat with the decision-maker and getting several rounds of validations (or tweaks) as you move through the process.


How has being based in Argentina influenced your work as a Creative Director?

Growing up in Argentina is like starting life on the outer edge, and it really opens your eyes to different cultures, not just our own. This is super important, especially in a world where certain cultures dominate the conversation. Also, Argentina's had its fair share of economic ups and downs, which kinda forces our agencies to think beyond our borders and create campaigns for other places. This is actually a cool thing because it teaches you to think globally, to see things from multiple angles. This knack for understanding different perspectives, starts right from the get-go in our careers. In my opinion, it makes Argentine creatives super adaptable and flexible, ready to blend into almost any cultural scene or tackle any problem. And that's probably why you'll find Argentine Creatives in just about every corner of the globe, fitting in like locals. It's pretty much the norm for us.


When creating a brand identity, how important is target audience research?

Crucial. If you don't know who you are talking to, how would you know how to make them (emotionally) click? It doesn't necessarily need to be the deepest research there ever was, but you need juicy insights about the people you are gonna talk to. Sometimes you don't receive that information as part of the brief: in that case I do my own research online but try to validate some truths with the decision maker before moving forward.


Please share some of your most valuable lessons from your years of experience.

One of the coolest things I picked up from my time at Google is this: what people truly want, what really motivates them, is often not on the surface. It's like a hidden treasure. There's a quote from 'Everybody Lies' by Seth Stephen-Davidowitz (who, by the way, used to work at Google too) that nails this idea: "Everybody lies. People lie about how many drinks they had on the way home. They lie about how often they go to the gym, how much those new shoes cost, whether they read that book. They call in sick when they’re not. They say they’ll be in touch when they won’t. They say it’s not about you when it is. They say they love you when they don’t. They say they’re happy while in the dumps. They say they like women when they really like men. People lie to friends. They lie to bosses. They lie to kids. They lie to parents. They lie to doctors. They lie to husbands. They lie to wives. They lie to themselves. And they damn sure lie to surveys." As a creative, our gig is to dig deep, to uncover those real, often hidden motivations that drive people, and then link them up with a brand. If I had to boil down my biggest takeaway, it’d be the art of listening. Really tuning into people to get past the surface level 'I want this' to the 'this is what I really dream about' stuff, and finding ways to match that with what a brand genuinely stands for.


Before starting a new project, what information are you looking for from the Customer? What do you ask them?

First of all, a succinct definition of what their problem is. There's a quote I love from Einstein: "If you can't explain it in a few words, you still don't understand it quite enough". So before jumping on all the data, the researches, etc, I try to spend as much time as needed with the customer to understand the essence of the problem they are trying to solve.


Every Creative has their style but it can be difficult to bring that style to different projects with different clients, all with their own styles. How do you bring the two together?

So, as you can see, I'm kind of big on quotes. I've been lucky enough to read some amazing books that really shaped how I see life (and my profession). Take the Tao Te Ching, this ancient Chinese philosophy book. It suggests that the real leader (or in this context, 'the true creative influencer') is someone who's almost invisible in the midst of a brainstorm. Someone that influences without imposing. Who adds value by leaning on convincing arguments instead of trying to force their vision on others. Two quotes from the book really sum it up perfectly: 1) To lead the people, walk behind them. 2) The one who is too insistent on their viewpoint finds few who agree with them. I believe in listening, in adding value wherever I can (sometimes that means helping to build on others' ideas), and in putting ego aside. After all, what we create is meant to serve a greater good: addressing a business need of a client who's invited us to solve the problem as a team. Beyond this overall perspective on the matter, I think it's crucial, before you even start working, to connect on a human level with the team members you're temporarily joining. A bit of 'Small Talk' can really go a long way.


What are some of the golden rules you follow as a surefire method to deliver a compelling project?

If you don't feel anything for your own ideas, then no one else will. Whatever you've created, whatever it is, it needs to stir up emotions in someone else.


What does your creative process look like?

My creative process is super simple, almost too obvious. It involves moving into my Google Calendar for the duration of the project. What I mean is, I constantly loop through it because for me, it's key to a) obsessively organize the timeline – from research to brainstorming, developing selected ideas, chatting and revising with customers, and starting over again and again (a habit I picked up from my time at Google, 'Fail fast, learn fast'), b) allow a decent amount of time to come up with ideas that are anything but obvious, and c) have as many conversations as possible with the customer and team members. This way, the creative process feels more like a chain of micro-validations leading us hand in hand to the final agreement, rather than a last-minute, 3-hour-to-deadline theatrical presentation with no time to iterate or start over if the ideas don't meet expectations or somehow don't solve the client's problem that we're here to tackle.

Let’s get creative together.

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