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Uprising: Meritxell Ruiz’s Passion for Life and Learning

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VMLY&R Spain’s copywriter speaks to LBB’s Zoe Antonov about her most intimate projects, how they enrich her creative work, and the state of the Spanish industry

Uprising: Meritxell Ruiz’s Passion for Life and Learning

Why do millennials need to be continuously entertained? Well, according to Meritxell (Meri) Ruiz, now a copywriter at VMLY&R Spain, it’s because of their overcrowded childhoods. As she remembers it, she did not stand still even for a moment growing up. After rollerblading Mondays through Wednesdays, English classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and swimming lessons on Fridays, she filled her weekends  asking ‘Why?’ about pretty much anything she was being told by her school, or by her parents. The dynamic environment doesn’t end with Meri’s intense schedule - she also grew up in Barcelona, a famously colourful place, surrounded by her cousins in her grandparents’ house - “A LOT of family, culture, and food!”

All three of these are still major parts of Meri’s life, especially since she has started moving around the world and has had to teach herself various ways to remember her heritage and keep it close. “Those people and places are what made you who you are,” the copywriter says. Simply describing herself as “friendly”, making friends always proved easy for her as she has always been surrounded with people wherever she has travelled. Today, Meri is based in Madrid, where she collides the best of both worlds - “Working for global accounts, while enjoying the local culture.”

Looking back, she knows she found her passion as early as 16 and from that moment onwards, everything she did went towards pursuing that goal. “‘Sin prisa pero sin pausa’, as we say in Spanish. I started out in AAU San Francisco, moved back to finish college in Barcelona while I worked at McCann, went to Miami Ad School Madrid and finished school working in Grey NYC,” says Meri. She shares that ahead of her graduation were many years of working hard towards getting a job, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her parents. “I am aware that privilege is still one of the things I need to point out when someone asks me how I made it. It’s not easy and it’s not cheap, the industry needs to change the way it filters its future.” 

After what she calls a ‘disastrous’ history exam in her junior year, Meri walked out of class straight to McCann Barcelona’s doorstep, where she waited for the ECD and asked her for an opportunity. “I think she saw how tired I was of doing nonsense college stuff that her answer was something along the lines of ‘Your portfolio sucks. When can you start?’” This was also where the copywriter started to hone her craft. “School is great, but work is better,” she says. “They brief you and you think you can’t solve it? You can. They give you more responsibility and you think you’re not good enough? You probably are.” Meritxell also recognises that a big part of her craft is the process of coming up with ideas itself, which she believes can only be improved by paying attention to the world, listening to your culture and noticing the needs of your people. “That’s where the craft comes from. The references are around you already,” she says.

This practice of paying attention to the world is also reflected in one of the best lessons she learned in the early days of her career: to equate listening with learning and find a way to truly listen to the people around the table. “That’s the only way you will get to become them, or better than them,” she says.

Meri’s first professional project was an experience that she  was randomly assigned to, with an art director she had never met before. “That was when I did an internship at Grey NYC. Me and Daly, the art director I had to work with, connected so much and worked so well that we had the luck to work on the Pringles social media campaign for the Superbowl together! That was the first project we made to go into production. I miss you Daly!” Coincidentally, it so happens that the work Meri is proudest of today is also on another fabulous crisps brand - Lay’s, where she had to face challenges that she had never encountered before.

For the copywriter, what is important to her also stems from beyond advertising work. Her personal experiences in real life and her collisions with different cultures and passion projects are what drives her to become a better person, and - parallel to that - a better creative. She believes that, “what happens in advertising is only a consequence of what is happening in the world,” so the worldly experience is what she treasures the most. “I’ve done music videos, designing spaces, short stories, I’ve even designed an engagement ring,” Meri shares. To her, all of these nooks and crannies of her personality are what makes her a well-rounded writer in a professional aspect. That real-life experience translates into great work, so that she can do what she loves most - “point at the TV while I’m watching it with my mum and say ‘Look, mama, I did that!’”

No matter the personal experiences though, a job always comes with its challenges, and for Meri one of the biggest ones is finding compromise when working with clients. “One of the most important things my boss has taught me was that there is a point where you have to let them have it the way they want it - for your own mental health.” She also speaks about the lack of diversity, specifically in the Spanish industry, which drives her up the wall. “We need to keep up with what is going on in other countries,” she says. “Women are 90% of students in advertising, but only 3% of creative directors are women.”. To involve herself in the cause, Meri is part of the Invisible Creatives and Más Mujeres Creativas (more creative women), movements that aim to raise awareness about the lack of women in creative industries.

Looking at the upsides, however, Meritxell loves how global the industry is and enjoys the opportunities to connect with anybody across the world for the sake of great work. However, being part of a global team also means a larger number of people being involved, which according to her, can get frustrating when ideas start bouncing around between different teams.

Away from the busy global world of advertising, in her free time, Meri decompresses with  therapy, yoga and regular runs. She also enjoys watching weird movies and cooking ‘amazing carbonara’, while also working on a number of her personal projects. This is exactly why right now, one of her goals is to keep her work-life balance in check, so she can keep up with everything and everyone, staying true to her diligent younger-self, who attended seven classes in one day. 

“It’s all about ‘etapas vitales’ (stages of life),” she says. “Right now, I’m in a moment where I am passionate about my life, the right balance between work, friends and family.” Achieving this balance allows her to step into the best creative version of herself, resulting in her making work she not only loves, but can be proud of too. “It’s amazing when you can look at your work and think ‘I cannot believe I did this’!”

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VMLY&R Spain, Fri, 30 Sep 2022 16:09:40 GMT