Helena Marzo and Saray González are creative directors at the creative agency LOLA MullenLowe in Barcelona. In the past year they’ve been responsible for some formidable projects, including the category-defying and taboo-busting ‘Mermaid’ for Gyno-Canesbalance and the powerful ‘Cry for the Law’ campaign advocating for the freedom to breastfeed in public. Here we get to know them and their creative approaches.
Helena> I'm the kind of person for whom this interview is a form of torture and yet a pleasure. I'm introverted, but for some unknown reason, I constantly expose myself. I can't leave myself alone. It's exhausting.
I like to see the world in doses. To be a while in the real world is enough for me to dream for hours. That capacity to dream is what makes our creative personalities. But unfortunately, it's something that many people lose as they grow older.
Advertising is perfect because it exposes you just enough. Those who know you know that there's a lot of you in your work, but it's always hidden beneath layers of other things. Furthermore, it fleetingly exposes you.
Saray> I'm a fake extrovert. Everyone thinks I'm super open, but I'm timid and self-conscious. I don't expose myself or see the pleasure in doing this interview (just kidding).
I don't like to consider myself a creative person; I consider myself a person who uses creativity. Everyone uses creativity in their day-to-day lives; it's just that the word "creative" doesn't appear in their job description. It's what any person does when they find a better way to do their job, and it's what we do when we find the best way to solve a brief.
Helena> When evaluating creative work, the gut feeling comes first. Emotion generates the primary criterion. There are undeniable works that don't resemble anything else. Or works that break the codes of the category.
I'm proud of ‘Mermaid’ for Gyno-Canesbalance
because it's a new voice within the category. It feels very contemporary to me. I like how it invites women to talk unapologetically about their vaginal health in a fun and direct way. It claims from the normalization.
I am excited about the moment of maturity we are experiencing in the industry, of review and awareness of our work's impact on gender equality and the representation of women in advertising.
Saray> I agree with Helena; it's all about gut feeling. After a long time, I realised that my intuition is my best tool. Whenever I haven't followed it, I've regretted it. Something inside me tells me it's right when I hear an idea. With the campaign ‘Cry for the Law,’
I felt that tingling and was right. It was such a powerful idea that it managed to reach the government and initiate the regulation of something as crucial as breastfeeding in public spaces.
This intuition has developed over the years and has evolved. Before, I aimed to create campaigns that resonated with the industry, but now I strive to create campaigns that resonate with people. Of course, I love seeing my campaign in the media, but that should not be the sole criterion for judging an idea.
Helena> I like to start projects by talking with the creatives without the intention of generating ideas, just philosophising with our feet up on the table, first, thinking like an ordinary person on the street. The next step is to research social networks to gauge the current trends on the topic.
I'm not very methodical when collecting ideas, like most copywriters. Saray is, and I admire her for that. My ideas are stored in the hippocampus. I hope they're there!
Lately, I've been watching a lot of Instagram reels. When I'm in a creative process, I remember things I've seen that seemed exciting and search for them in my interaction history. But I don't compile them; I prefer starting with a blank sheet, to be honest and relying on other people's brains. I like working collaboratively, although I also need time on my own. It helps me to leave the agency and think for a while in another place. I have many ideas for riding my motorcycle or in the shower. They are unsustainable methods, I'm afraid…
Saray> As Helena mentioned, I collect and organise my ideas and references very well. I'm a hoarder; I have millions of gigabytes stored with photographers, illustrators, videos, and campaigns that I never look at again but know are there and, therefore, in my head.
But what inspires me the most is the world, people, and pop culture. Ultimately, we create campaigns for people, and I find inspiration in what people like. If I focus too much on specific or "artsy" things, I risk creating something people don't understand or connect with. Every process starts by finding what the brand has in common with the people it's targeting, and once I find that, it's just a matter of giving it shape.
Helena> I grew up in Olympic Barcelona, where the city was a hub of creativity and design. My sticker collections had drawings by [Javier] Mariscal. My parents sent me to a school with a very creative and international spirit.
I've been fortunate to work with top creative figures in our country over the past five years as a freelancer and now at LOLA. Working together and seeing how they think, present, and lead their teams has made and continues to make me better at my job.
I would recommend marketers observe if their agency maintains enthusiasm. If their agency has lost the excitement, it’s not a good sign. Maybe the marketing team needs to do something differently.
Long-term relationships, also with clients, shape the agency's culture. Designing a stable team of complementary personalities with the same passion for the work creates an agency's culture.
Saray> My response here couldn't be more different from Helena's. I grew up in a small town and went to a convent school. But I was always surrounded by creative women, like my mother, sister, and grandmother, who have greatly influenced the type of professional I am now.
As I've mentioned throughout the interview, people are the most important thing to me when I think about a campaign and when I work. I prioritise people over work because when you're doing well, you work well. I don't believe in "thriving on stress" at all.