Building an In-House Creative Team
An interview with Flipp’s Creative Director, Diego Bertagni
Diego Bertagni’s relationship with advertising began as a baby when his parents installed his cradle in the TV room. Years later, his formal education in advertising began at university. Diego launched his career in 2005, first at several independent agencies before landing at Ogilvy & Mather Buenos Aires.
In February 2012, he was promoted to Creative Director where he had the opportunity to work on SC Johnson and Philips. Diego’s next step brought him to Canada when he was asked to join Tribal Worldwide Toronto. His answer was a resounding ‘yes’. He spent the next three years working for brands such as McDonald’s, Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Mars, and Canadian Tire.
After 15 years in ad agencies, he joined Flipp as Creative Director — a decision he remains very happy with.
Moral of the story: be careful where you put your baby’s cradle.
We sat down with Diego to learn about his journey from creative agencies to the tech industry, and what it’s like to build an in-house creative team dedicated exclusively to Flipp’s brand and success.
So Diego, what motivated you to pursue a career in the creative arts?
I knew that I wanted to be part of a team. Maybe because I love sports? I also love everything related to the arts, so I knew that the only profession I could enjoy doing for the rest of my life was in advertising and design.
And what has been the key to your success?
Success is kind of a big word. I think that my perseverance has kept me moving forward. I don’t think of myself as a talented person, but a career is like a marathon, not a 100-metre sprint. Anybody can have a stroke of genius, but that is just that. Coming back from a failure over and over again and prevailing is what makes the difference. And if you work in the creative industry, you have to be comfortable with failing a lot.
Where do you look for inspiration? Do you have any favourite brands or publications?
I am a pretty old-fashioned creative. Yes, I follow a lot of brands and publications but I still seek inspiration at museums and art galleries. I probably have a membership to every one of them here in Toronto.
What attracted you to Flipp (and the tech industry) from the agency world?
Two things: Culture and having a purpose. The corporate world, ad agencies, and other companies have been going through massive changes over the last couple of years. Talent has been flocking to the tech sector not only because it’s the ‘next big thing’, but because these companies acknowledge that there is more to being an employer than just paying a salary. Culture, as in any society, it’s what makes people thrive and stay.
And secondly, working with a real purpose. Making awesome campaigns that make people cry and smile is great. But as I grew up, I needed more than that — I wanted to help people out and have a deep impact on a single brand. Today at Flipp, we are helping people save money so that they can invest in their kids’ education, vacations, etc. That is a very noble purpose for a company.
And how does the role of Creative Director differ at a tech company like Flipp vs. at a creative agency?
It really depends on the size of the tech company. What was interesting for me about Flipp was that I had a blank canvas to build a team almost from scratch. We went from using stock images to fully producing our own photo and video shoots in-house. When you are part of a big network agency, the structure is already in place and change is slow.
How does your team work together and collaborate with other departments? What processes did you bring over from agency, and what did you do differently?
Our team is very good mix of makers. We have the makers of the creative process: art director and copywriter as the ideation team, a photographer and a videographer as the production stage, and the designers are visual crafters. They don’t work in an isolated way — they build upon what the other person has done. It’s like building a car; you start with a blueprint and you end up with a vehicle. This multidisciplinary team is nimble enough to produce all the content that we need for all our channels at a very fast pace.
The main change that I brought from the ad agency world is that creativity has a process and has to be followed. Having the brief is the first milestone in this process — it’s an agreement between teams outlining why, how and when we are doing something.
Pivoting to your team, how do you measure your team’s success?
Our team is measured by CPI (cost per install), but that is a norm across all tech companies. I like to focus on them growing as creative people — learning new tools, finding new interests, looking at where they are going to be in three years, etc. If you focus on those things, your team will reach their ‘metric goals.’
What makes you excited to come to work every day?
My team. My thrill nowadays doesn’t come from coming up with the most amazing idea, but from building a team from scratch and pushing them to go beyond what they thought they could do.
I take mentorship very seriously and my weekly one-on-one meetings with my team members are never just a ‘how are you doing?’ check-in. I am always thinking about how far can you go tomorrow, what tools do need to get there, etc.
How can candidates stand out when applying for design jobs?
Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio! When it comes to searching for a new candidate, we have to go through (literally) hundreds of applications. The ones that stand out — even for very junior roles — have a strong portfolio. Show a range of pieces (print, logo, UI/UX,etc.) Also, what you present and how you present it really creates an impact. Only show what is ‘portfolio-worthy’ — a bad piece in your portfolio just to show more pieces is a red flag. Go for quality, not quantity.
Lastly, what advice do you have for anyone considering making the move from agency to tech?
Be ready to see numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. Daily. A creative director at a tech company becomes an analyst with a high degree of empathy. You have to learn to see the people behind those numbers and create pieces that will drive them to make decisions.