Three years since Publicis Groupe set up Le Pub in collaboration with Heineken, the agency has proven its power to make work that resonates in culture. To push that further, Le Pub recently appointed two new chief creative officers - Francesco Andrea Poletti in Italy and Milos Obradovic in the Netherlands.
Among the most successful creative leaders in the industry, Francesco joins Le Pub from VMLY&R, where he arrived in 2018 establishing himself in a rise that led him to hold the position of CCO just two years after his inception.
Originally from Serbia, Milos has spent the last 19 years working between Milan, London, and Amsterdam. Throughout his career, he’s achieved more than 200 local and international awards including 48 Cannes Lions and 12 D&AD pencils. In 2022 Milos was selected as a ‘Top 5’ most awarded creative director in the world by Cannes Lions.
As these two creative leaders enter new roles, LBB’s Alex Reeves spoke to them about the agency’s positioning, where it is headed and how they hope to lead Le Pub in the right direction.
LBB> What do you think sets Le Pub apart from other creative agencies?
Francesco> I have just arrived at Le Pub, but I know very well their ‘deus ex machina’, Cristiana Boccassini and Bruno Bertelli. I know their history in the industry, and what they have been capable of achieving and to me, it is the most important proof of who you are professionally, and where you can aim to go.
Le Pub is a one-of-a-kind place, an international environment with more than 25 nationalities that wants to make an impact on the culture through outstanding creativity. For a creative person to be here is like a kid being at Disneyland. An independent agency mindset, backed up by one of the most important communication groups on the planet.
Milos> Le Pub, as a creative agency with an innovative approach, believes that instead of waiting for a client’s brief, we like looking at their business problems and opportunities and building the brief together.This allows us to look for solutions beyond traditional means. It could be almost anything: a new product, a service, an innovative way of distribution etc.
LBB> In leading your respective creative departments, what will be your priorities? How will you ensure the people you work with are nurtured and able to deliver?
Francesco> We are living in interesting working times, aren’t we? After the pandemic, many things have changed, but many things stayed the same. We still deal with an enormous amount of work and pressure, but people now also know that work is not everything in life. So, how can we combine these two aspects and deliver great work? Probably with some ‘sale in zucca’ which is an Italian saying that comes from grandmothers and which means ’common sense’.
I am not aware of any successful human being who didn’t have to make sacrifices to get on top, and I don’t recall any winning projects I worked on that didn’t cost me fatigue, blood, and tears (dramatic plot twist). But finding the right balance between achieving great work and a human, balanced way of living the agency life is the challenge of the upcoming years.
Us, generation x, are responsible for rethinking some of the values we grew up with and which are probably no longer sustainable in this modern era; at the same time, we shall cohabitate with younger generations to rethink the ‘I want it all and now, or I quit’ attitude which is also not sustainable from the business and career side.
A common ground needs to be found and some fun, laid-back, light-hearted spirit must always reside in the creative departments all over the world. Advertising remains the best job one can dream of doing.
Milos> Building a peaceful atmosphere where the team can work and deliver a great job is challenging, everything revolves around the importance of having a strong and committed team. On one side, giving them the best opportunities there are but at the same time, creating a safe space where they will be able to grow by also making mistakes and learning from them.
LBB> If we catch up again after a year of working in your new roles, what do you want to be able to tell me you've done?
Francesco> I would go through the questions I’ve just answered now again and see how it went, if a common ground has been approached and if myself and my team had fun delivering great work over the year. Honestly, working in this super cool agency I am not concerned about creating great work, that is assured. I would rather focus on people's culture. One of my former bosses told me once: “This is a business made of people”. In fact, we meet and meet again, so let’s play fair, have fun, respect each other, and do one hell of a job!
Milos> The moment people take a piece of work and start not only commenting on it and sharing it but also making memes and parodies of it, you know you’re doing something right. This is my wish as it is the core of Le Pub's proposition: delivering amazing work that doesn’t belong to the brand anymore, but to the people.
LBB> What are some of the most exciting projects that you have seen from Le Pub that you’d like to do more of going forward?
Francesco> I saw many, from the outstanding work made for Heineken over the years to the great activations created for top fashion brands such as Bottega Veneta.
But one project is my favourite: the Barilla ‘Passive Cooking’ campaign. Why do I like it? Because it’s simply genial, it comes from past traditions, and it is relevant in culture. And topical! Energy crisis? Let’s cook like in the old times and save gas and energy. This kind of project, beyond being brilliant creatively, tries to inspire people for the better. Further, it’s about an invention, a product innovation, that came from the outstanding work of our Le Garage team, a section of Le Pub dedicated to tech and innovation.
Milos> Definitely ‘The Closer’ for Heineken. It starts with a simple yet strong insight. It’s a tech innovation product that doubles as a satirical commentary on some aspects of our society. All wrapped in an ecosystem of entertaining assets.
LBB> The agency's mission is to use data to impact culture. What is the best example you've each seen of that so far in your careers?
Francesco> Correct, working on culture is one of our main mantras. And this is what happened with the ‘Bar Experience’ project by Heineken. Thousands of people left the hospitality industry in 2021, and this created an issue in finding new hirings; there was less interest in working behind a bar. So, together with Heineken, we re-created that interest. How? Giving a real chance to work at Heineken starting from an experience in a bar, which - if you think - totally makes sense!
Milos> I’m quite proud of our latest teamwork towards Heineken’s partnership with UEFA called ‘Cheers to All Fans’
. Most of us, if asked to imagine a hardcore football fan would not think of a woman. Yet, more than 42% of football fans around the globe are women. This was a starting point for what became a global platform willing to enhance gender equality that covers a 360° campaign, digital activations, local initiatives and much more. And we’re already working on year two.
LBB> How do you measure the impact of your work on culture? When do you know that a brand has gone beyond marketing and become a part of the fabric of people's lives?
Francesco> I make a simple example that sounds: “Tuduuuum”. See? You all know that I am talking about a multi-awarded Netflix commercial, just reading an SFX. You know you’ve nailed it when people around you are advertising your campaign by themselves. When you create an idea that becomes a catchphrase you can get in the streets, beyond the TV screens.
Milos> I helped create a place where the best creatives from all over the world would love to work at.