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“The Impossible Is Nothing”: Juan Carlos Ortiz Reflects on Awards Success and DDB’s ‘Bullseye’ Targets



DDB Latina’s president and CEO discusses expanding the approach that earned them 33 Cannes Lions wins in 2022, writes LBB’s Ben Conway

“The Impossible Is Nothing”: Juan Carlos Ortiz Reflects on Awards Success and DDB’s ‘Bullseye’ Targets

“We call it a magical touch,” says Juan Carlos Ortiz, describing DDB Latina’s approach to creativity and culture. The president and CEO of the agency collection, which globally encompasses all Latin nations for DDB - from Sao Paolo to Spain - has helped pioneer the ‘Bullseye System’. This creativity-first structure and strategy is what the president/CEO credits for DDB Latina earning 59% of DDB Worldwide’s awards at Cannes this year.

Juan Carlos led the Latin agencies across Europe, LATAM and the US to success at the award show earlier this year, with nine agencies claiming 33 Lions in total - including two Grand Prixs in the ‘Lion for Good’ and ‘Creative Data’ categories. This was something unthinkable, even to the characteristically passionate and optimistic president, after DDB Latina claimed 50% of DDB Worldwide’s Cannes spoils the year before. 

“I said, ‘What are we going to do? It’s terrible to do something like that!’. And then this year… 59%. It’s getting worse! Last year, I said we’ve gone too far - so I don't know what's going to happen now. 50% was like, ‘Oh my God’.” 

He continues, “The impossible is nothing. To improve on 50% was impossible, but we did it. So, fingers crossed. What is going to happen now? We're working hard to expand. The next step is not more awards, it’s that the company wants to expand the Bullseye System. [The Bullseye System] is going to be the DDB Worldwide process for Europe, Asia, the rest of the USA and for the rest of the company.”

It appears that the gears of this process are already turning, as Juan Carlos speaks from Barcelona, where he is presenting the Bullseye expansion plan. “Right now we're preparing to start putting the system in place globally, region by region,” he says. “The power of this, on a regional basis, comes from involving the people to create a culture. We have a lot of talent in different regions and with the very strong power of collaboration and culture, we can do something very big. I’m very confident we have the human level of power to create something very impressive worldwide. Our idea is to expand the system and push DDB to become number one.”

The Bullseye System itself is driven by Juan Carlos’ belief that creativity must be central and consistent within a business in order to promote growth. He believes the idea of a creative department is “old-fashioned”, favouring the cultivation of a wholly “creative company”.

He explains, “A creative company is something totally different because to have a creative company is to have a creative mindset in the centre of the company, which touches every kind of professional with different skills. Creativity is something that you breathe in the company. The power of your creative product is the power of your company.”

“That is the way to be stronger and relevant. The most important part about being creative as a company is understanding that: to be creative is to be effective. And when you understand that’s the same thing, you break this paradigm about ‘Are you creative, or are you effective?’. That [mindset] is a big mistake. Being creative is being effective. And being effective is being creative. Your clients need you to be like that.”

This paradigm is something that Juan Carlos says has been prevalent at awards shows like Cannes for over 15 years, going as far as to say there has been “a strategy to split the system,” separating creativity from effectiveness, and pushing towards technology and performance. 

“I think that’s wrong. That’s the way to cut out a very relevant part of the industry for a creative agency,” he says. “This system doesn't need to be split - it’s one system. We have to create a convergency that recognises it's the same thing… emotions are properly connected with business growth and success. I remember people doing research on the creative winners at Cannes to see if they've been effective and all that stuff. But if you really want to be effective, you have to be creative.”

And it’s hard to argue with this approach when you see the number of awards and plaudits his Bullseye System-adopting DDB Latina agencies have earned in recent years. He says, “We've been winning every creative award… agency of the year, all the regional festivals… we’ve been winning everything. We won at the Effies in Latin America and in the USA, so we've been really winning on the two sides with the same quality of ideas, creativity and effectiveness. We love to say right now that we are the most creative network because we're the most effective one. Or that we are the most effective one because we are the most creative one. In the end, creative is our asset to create business for the client.”

It’s easy to see why, with Juan Carlos’ confidence and the award show success of the Bullseye System’s ‘magical touch’, the DDB Worldwide leadership is interested in expanding the framework internationally. In an industry that is constantly changing, with consulting companies and tech companies claiming a slice of the same pie and a growing need to stand out and be proactive, Juan Carlos - and now seemingly the DDB network more widely - is putting its faith in Bullseye to hit the mark creatively in the future.

“The Bullseye is part of our culture and one of the main assets we have in order to elevate the quality of our work, create culture and collaboration between the offices, and to be proactive. Everything is changing every two days, so being proactive is one of the most important assets we have.” He continues, explaining why the system has helped DDB Latina agencies evolve and prosper in recent times, “We really are obsessed with and very passionate about the creative product. Our business has been changing a lot during the last few years, and that makes us feel proud that we've really concentrated on the creative side. The main asset we have - the strong narrative and main advantage - is the creative. Of course, we love data and technology, but we use them around the creative part of the business.”

This structure and culture of creative collaboration has helped DDB Latina develop a trust between its teams, where ideas can be shared to improve the creative output. Juan Carlos says that this also attracts talent and keeps them happy - something that was a concern for the industry when we last spoke during the ‘great resignation’ peak eight months ago. “In many places, people are feeling like we're becoming more of an automatic system of communications. But not in our case, because the human touch makes a difference. We are putting the creative Bullseye and the creative agenda in the centre of the companies. People like that a lot.” 

For the DDB Latina CEO, the reason why one campaign is more successful than another is “the people and the creative approach” - a notion that the Bullseye approach, now being implemented across DDB globally, holds at its core. And although he himself admits that the industry moves quickly and can be unpredictable, Juan Carlos seems optimistic about where this new journey of strategic expansion will take DDB. While the target grows larger, the Bullseye philosophy remains the same - hoping to bring with it more awards, growth and a passionate focus on creativity. 

“DDB Latina has been growing every year for the last six, seven years in a row. That's why you can connect that growth to the creative product - because that’s our business. When we grow, it’s because our clients are growing, because we're bringing strong ideas to the table.”

He concludes, “We are talking about creativity and effectiveness as one. We are demonstrating that the power of the ideas and the creative product is stronger than ever - and that we believe in that, especially in today's world. The world has been evolving, but having creativity at the centre of the agenda makes you feel stronger, and that is totally connected with the business results.”

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DDB Latina, Fri, 30 Sep 2022 16:58:00 GMT