Adriano Lombardi is an Argentinian creative with Italian, Spanish and Hungarian roots who has lived and worked in Peru, Colombia and Mexico. He brings this melting pot of cultural ideas to his role as executive creative director of VMLY&R COMMERCE.
The agency's 'Jersey Pay' campaign for Corona beer, which allowed football fans to pay for drinks at games with the badge on a football shirt - picked up a Silver in Mobile and Bronze in Creative Commerce at Cannes earlier this year. Its popularity in Mexico is set to lead to wider use in football stadiums in the future.
Adriano believes that the future of advertising and creativity is about creative commerce. Considering he sees his job more like a hobby, we predict a positive future for Adriano. LBB's Addison Capper chatted with him.
LBB> You are an art director by trade - how does this experience inform the work that you do in commerce / activation at VMLY&R COMMERCE?
Adriano> I actually don’t see myself as an art director, but instead more as an all-terrain creative. My background in art helps me visualise ideas, but in the end what’s important is to make them come to life. That only happens when you gather a team of amazing people from different areas and disciplines and have them work together. My art knowledge is just one capability though among others that helps me to sell ideas. My background as a Latin American creative, born and raised in Argentina, who lived for five years in Peru and is currently living in Mexico is probably my biggest asset. Multiple markets, multiple disciplines, and multiple cultures equals multiple ideas.
LBB> Since Geometry / VMLY&R COMMERCE formed, the industry really has changed and ‘activation’ has become more central in people’s thinking (perhaps in terms of behaviour change or effectiveness). What are your thoughts on that?
Adriano> It’s not new that the world is changing and that we have shifted into a consumer centric approach in terms of creativity. Now we have creatives talking about user and customer experiences and how to ensure people connect with brands instead of talking about one-minute commercials. The future of advertising and creativity is about creative commerce. It’s about delivering creativity that inspires conversion in the moment – regardless of channel. It finds us sitting at the same table with partners across multiple departments – marketing, product development, research, customer service – discussing new products, packages, innovations, and most importantly, new ways to convert. These days commerce is everywhere, intersecting with creativity, culture and technology to really drive conversion. What that means is it has turned us into innovative problem solvers instead of just concept creators. How awesome is that?!
LBB> You've been at the agency for about eight years now. What is it about working in this field that you're particularly enjoying and which has made you stick around?
Adriano> I keep repeating this to everyone that asks me the same question – I love my job and what I do every day so it doesn’t feel like work. It’s more like a hobby, so much so that sometimes I even feel guilty earning money for having fun and enjoying what I do. I know it’s wrong, but like Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Creative commerce is always new, always fresh. Every day there’s a new opportunity to innovate, bring ideas to the table and help our partners to convert.
LBB> Your heritage is a real mish mash of cultures! How do they inform the way you approach a creative problem?
Adriano> It’s funny, because I used to be super proud of my different cultures – an Argentinean with Italian, Spanish and Hungarian roots. But now when I look at the road I’ve travelled, I realise that what makes me most proud is also what I’ve done. Every country I’ve lived in, every person I’ve met, every culture I’ve known – this melting pot has really helped me approach creativity with a well-rounded view of humanity.
LBB> How did you get into advertising? Was it a planned thing or more a happy accident?
Adriano> It actually started as a joke. I loved to play with Photoshop when I was in high school. I would cut-out faces of famous people from photos and put mine or my parents’ on them instead, and then show them around. A good laugh was enough for me to know I was getting better and better as a photo retoucher. Then I realised that if I studied graphic design at university, I would be able to do these super fun things on my computer in the workplace. That’s when I realised I was going to be a creative art director.
LBB> As a football fan, I think that Jersey Pay is such a genius idea. What are the foundations of that project? What was the initial problem that began the thinking process?
Adriano> I’m also a huge football fan, and for me what makes it unique is using your team’s badge (the one you kiss; the most valuable thing on your jersey) as a new payment method. The project itself was designed to solve many problems, but the most important one was about conversion. The client knew if we could create an innovation to help them sell more beer inside the stadium – knowing football fans carry little money with them – we were going to have a scalable solution to their problems not just in Mexico, but across all Latin America.
LBB> It performed well at Cannes this year - congratulations! How was it perceived among football fans in Mexico and further afield? I feel like it's an idea that could be rolled out wider!
Adriano> Thank you so much! Everyone loves the idea here in Mexico; now it’s time to make it even bigger. As I said before, the scalable factor was super important and for the brand, it was one of the main things to take into consideration. We have plans to launch an edition for the World Cup on a much larger scale, but I can’t say anything about that just yet!
LBB> Which other pieces of recent work are you most proud of and why?
Adriano> We’re currently working with the Mexican Red Cross on ideas focused on sustainable commerce. It’s about conversion, but also focused on raising donations. I love it because it involves technological innovation, but at the same time has an important emotional factor. I’m excited to share news about it with you soon.
LBB> What are your general thoughts on advertising in Mexico right now? Do you feel like it's in a good place creatively?
Adriano> I think in Mexico and all across Latin America really, we still have creatives thinking in an old school way when it comes to new ideas. What brands need more than ever now are innovative creatives, who can incorporate not only the new technologies, but who are concerned with the future of our planet. If we keep doing the same things, we will keep getting the same results – and as we all know, everything and everyone is changing.
LBB> Do you have creative heroes?
Adriano> Not really – in fact that’s one of the problems in our industry today. We just don’t have enough creative heroes for the next generation to admire. I myself don't believe in creative stars. What I believe in are passionate people doing what they love. I guess in that way, when you find someone who embodies those things, they are a type of creative hero. Those that inspire me the most are my wife and partner in crime, Ines, and my agency leaders, Santiago Cortes, Manuel Borde and Beth Ann Kaminkow.
LBB> Outside of work, what keeps you inspired?
Adriano> Just life – loving, hating, living in the moment. A falling raindrop or even the smell of wet soil – it’s all inspiring to me. When I’m in need of immediate inspiration though I take a shower (the best ideas come from a comforting hot bath). And if I get stuck on a problem, I just leave it and come back in a few hours or even a few days. There’s something about time away that can really prove to be the most inspiring of all. It’s as if the inspiration just sort of happens without you even realising it in the moment.