Fabienne Fiorucci — Associate Creative Director, Darewin Paris
Fabienne talks to TheNextGag about her passion for entertainment, what makes a great creative team and why creatives need to keep learning.
Fabienne Fiorucci is Associate Creative Director of Darewin Paris in France.
THENEXTGAG: YOU AND YOU PARTNER, DAMIEN FOUI, BECAME CREATIVE DIRECTORS NOT SO LONG AGO. IS THAT RIGHT ?
FABIENNE FIORUCCI: We joined Darewin two years and half ago. We started as a creative team. As a matter of fact, we were the only ones back then that had an advertising background. At that time, people in the agency came from television, publishing … There were no one with an advertising background. No one had ever heard of titles such as a copywriter or an art director. People were curious, they were even wondering why Damien was being called an art director and I wasn’t a called a copy director. These kind of questions. Advertising was foreign territory to them. That was the state of the agency when we came in. So we had to educate people on what it was that we were doing. Why we were working as a team. Why one of us was working on the words while the other was working on the images. It was a big learning curve for everyone here at Darewin. And then, more people joined coming from advertising agencies. But, we still keep bringing in people with different backgrounds. Because, we believe that it is this melting pot that creates the culture and the values of the agency.
Right from the start, we had the opportunity to work on really cool operations. Campaigns that I am still proud to this date, even if some of them are almost three years old. For example, the work that we did for Pathé on the “Un Illustre Inconnu” movie. So we did our thing. And slowly, we started to earn the trust of Wale, our boss. And then came some success with the campaigns that we created. This is how we evolved within the agency. We have been elevated to Associate Creative Directors for the whole agency. That came one year and half after joining. It came to validate the work that we did and also the people that we’ve hired and trained.
If feels like, with this new title, we have become key members of the agency structure. That’s nice to for us. But it is also nice for Darewin as we work a lot. We have a lot of different things going on here at the same time. And everything always goes very fast. It means that sometimes, Jérémie Bottiau, our Executive Creative Director, cannot have a hold on everything or be aware of everything and he needs to rely on us. That’s our role. We follow the subjects that he doesn’t have the time to see and we show him our work.
Even though, we are a small shop, we still have a regular structure in our creative department: starting with the Executive Creative Director, then us, Associate Creative Directors, and finally our brilliant creatives. It is really a pleasure to be working with them and sharing ideas with them. I love it. I believe that we need to learn continuously and I am learning so much from people working under us. Even people that we’ve just hired and know nothing about the agency or even advertising as an industry. We have young people in our creative department. Some are really young. In fact, we’ve just brought in a new creative team five months ago. They are just twenty years old, yet they are brilliant. I learn every day from them. I have no shame saying that. I absolutely enjoy sharing some knowledge with them and helping them grow. Our job is to help them on their subjects and when they are struggling or have too much on their plate. We get to learn so much through them. That’s the kind of culture that we are trying to foster around here and share with others.
TNG: YOU SAID YOU WERE ADC OF THE AGENCY. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT ?
FF: On one of the largest accounts of the agency, we work as creative directors. That means that we lead all the work, from the big ideas to the ideas on social media with our creatives.
And then, for the other clients — we have a lot of regular clients and also do a lot of new business pitches — we work as associate creative directors. That means that we will sometimes contribute with an idea, or sometimes work with them people to develop an idea and shape it the right way for a presentation. We even get to present to clients along with our EDC, Jérémie Bottiau.
TNG: SO WHAT ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL OFFICE LOCATIONS OF THE AGENCY ?
FF: I believe that you can’t work at Darewin without having a global ambition. From its early days, the agency had the ambition to grow internationally. We had an office in Paris and then we opened an office in Berlin. The next one could be New York. When you become part of the project, you have to think globally. We all know that if we create great work here in Paris, and great work in Berlin, we might be able to attract international clients and allow us to open a location in New York.
Personally, I buy into this vision. When you commit to the project in Paris, you have to have this global ambition. They go together.
TNG: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE DAREWIN TO SOMEONE ELSE ?
FF: It depends on who you are talking to. But the way I see it, Darewin is not an advertising agency. It is not a communications agency. What we do is different. I would say that we are an entertainment agency. Because everything we do boils down to entertainment. We have clients from the entertainment industry, like Netflix or Arte. And we also have clients that belong to a different category, but for which we do content that is entertainment. Everything that Darewin does and will ever do is entertainment. So all the way through the agency, the people, our relationships, what we do is entertainment.
A lot of our internal culture is quite unique as it is very focused on this entertainment obsession. We host masterclasses, where we will invite talented people from a lot of different universes to come share their knowledge and experience with us. As I already said, I believe we have to find occasions to learn at all time. There is no strict type of person that we invite for these sessions. It can be heads of TV networks, writers, creatives. Our entertainment culture leads us to learn and play a lot. For example, we are huge fans of music quizzes. And then, we have English Friday at the agency when we only speak and email in English. This is also part of the culture of Darewn.
All of this shows through the work that we do. Whether it is work for a client that is in entertainment, entertainment work for a client or again in-house events, it is all about entertainment. That’s what we live and breathe.
TNG: I SEE ENTERTAINMENT HAS MUSIC, SPORTS, VIDEO GAMES, CINEMA OR SERIES. DOES IT MEAN THAT ALL THE EMPLOYEES ARE STRONGLY INTO THAT ?
FF: That’s the goal, yes. We look for people with a passion when we hire. Passion for the world of entertainment. For example, someone that is a passionate of video games but doesn’t necessarily watch too much series. Others, love football. Other, TV series. And for others, it is cinema. We have a very diverse cast. People love a lot of different things. Actually, we like to have that melting pot of passions. It gives us a big fan base of general entertainment.
You can talk to some of our employees and you will find true lovers of TV series, that know everything by heart, whatever genre it is. We used to have someone who was really into video games and would talk about the levels he mastered. We have many football fans. I am, myself, one of them.
People, here, like to spend time entertaining themselves and delve into their passion. So, we are extremely grateful to have clients that come from the world that we are all passionate about.
TNG: LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU AND DAMIEN. WHAT MAKES THE TWO OF YOU SO GOOD AT WORKING TOGETHER ?
FF: When you work as a creative team, you have to share your ideas with your partner. That can seem akin to getting yourself naked in front of him or her. Confessing a raw idea to someone means not being afraid or shameful. And to do that, you need to get along well with your partner. From the beginning of the relationship, you need to establish a judgment-free zone.
At the agency, we sometimes organize brainstorming sessions where we try to find ideas together by going around the table. This type of open ideation sessions can be difficult for some people. It is true that creation can be challenging for introverts. You need to have the confidence to say “Here is my idea and I think it is good”. It is super hard. I totally get it. That’s why when we brainstorm, we tell people that they can say anything without being judged. Even if someone says something that is inadequate, no one will laugh at them. If you don’t agree with these basic principles, simply don’t show up. Luckily, so far, it never occurred.
So, to find the person that you feel at ease with, a person with whom you can share anything and create a relationship of trust is not easy. I am fortunate that I found this with my creative partner.
I won’t lie, winning an award feels great. But I am not passionate about that. What I like is to create. To create with people and learn from them.
TNG: NOW THAT YOU WON AWARDS, DO YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE OF HAVING TO WIN OTHER ONES EVERY YEAR ?
FF: To be honest with you, not really. I feel that I found my calling. I am passionate in the job that I do. I am not passionate about winning awards. What I enjoy is sharing with our creatives, sharing ideas, finding good ideas and working hard to produce them. I like to meet people. I like to meet students. All that is what I am passionate about. Creation and management intertwined. That’s what I like.
I won’t lie, winning an award feels great. But I am not passionate about that. What I like is to create. To create with people and learn from them. If I get to do that for the rest of my career, I will be fulfilled. Even if I don’t win anymore awards.
TNG: THE WORK THAT YOU PRODUCED IS ALL VERY DIFFERENT ONE FROM THE OTHER. DIFFERENT MEDIA, DIFFERENT EXECUTIONS DIFFERENT CLIENTS. DOES THAT COME FROM WHAT INSPIRES YOU OR IS IT LUCK ?
FF: I don’t believe in luck. I believe in work. I believe in inspiration. And I believe in sharing of ideas. You need to provoke your own luck. We managed to provoke it because we have shared a lot with other people. We are inspired by all what we see. We are inspired by the content that we consume. So far, a lot of our work was built upon the content produced by our clients, films, TV series and such.
When we look for an idea, a film for example, we deconstruct it. What is the pitch of the film ? What happens in the film ? How do we use the main idea on a different platform ? How do we bring it to Facebook ? How do we bring it in the streets ? How do we bring it on a banknote ? Each time, we start with what the writers of the content created and we expand the experience elsewhere. We always choose the medium that we will use based on the storytelling. So each time, it ends up on a different medium. Because the story is different, the idea that we come up with is different.
If we work on a horror film for example, we will try to expand on that theme. We will try to create a scary moment in our experience before the reveal to allow people that we are targeting to go through the same emotions but on another medium.
That’s why all our ideas have been different. It all starts from the content that we are provided with. That’s what we use to find our ideas. We will never alter the content to fit a particular idea or to sell something that doesn’t exist. If you start your ideation process with the content, you are bound to end up on something that works. And all your ideas will be somehow different.
TNG: THAT SEEMS ABOUT RIGHT. BUT YOU STILL SEE PORTFOLIOS OF SENIOR CREATIVES WHERE THEY HAPPENED TO HAVE DONE ONLY ONE TYPE OF WORK THEIR WHOLE LIFE. IT IS RARE TO FIND A BOOK AS DIVERSE AS YOURS.
FF: There was a time when people where labeled. You would have your “traditional creatives”, your “film creatives”, and so on. At Darewin, we are often labeled as a digital agency. And people refer to us as “digital creatives”.
But, I completely disagree. Digital can be everything. Digital can be this interview that will end up on your blog. Digital can be this picture. Digital can be this banknote that someone will post on Instagram. Digital can be everywhere. Digital can be anything.
It is time that we stop labeling people. It is time that we stop briefing creatives by saying “We have an idea and we would like you to find its digital component”. I believe that an ad campaign is a whole. You need to start thinking from the people that you are targeting. Think of the users. That’s why we call ourselves user-centric. Sometimes, even user-lovers. That’s what it is all about. So, if the best way to sell you the new Luc Besson movie, for example, is to produce a flyer and to drop it in your mailbox, that’s what we will do.
You always have to keep the end consumers in mind. If we produce an amazing print campaign but no one sees it, there is no interest in doing it. We have to stop interrupting people’s lives and start entertaining them. That’s why we have entertainment at our core. We always try to bring a type of experience, to bring a creative solution to a problem rather than just an ad. We all know the stats about the use of adblockers. Rather than interrupting people’s lives, we need to complete them. It is fundamental. And that explains why we don’t rely on only one medium. All the platforms are always on the table.
TNG: YOU’VE BUILT YOUR PORTFOLIO WITH A LOT OF LOW-BUDGET WORK. DO YOU DREAM OF HAVING BIG BUDGETS, BIG DIRECTORS AND BIG PHOTOGRAPHERS ?
FF: I have already worked with big directors and big photographers. It makes things better because you get a level of production that is on par with what you had in mind.
It is true that we’ve been working with smaller budgets lately. But we are advocates of a “low effort, big impact” mindset. That’s what we enjoy doing. We always strive to keep it simple. Create smart campaigns. What I mean by smart are campaigns that are low budget but can deliver greatly. You don’t necessarily need a large production budget to touch many people. Of course, it can be more challenging. It is not easy.
For people that are used to have millions for their campaigns, it can seem daunting to have way less for your ideas. But it forces you to think differently, to have a different mindset about creation. Even though, it is the same process. You think it through and then you find an idea. It is for the next step when you think about how to produce and spread that idea, that you need to be smart. Smart means having a small budget but still performing well.
If tomorrow, we have the opportunity to work with a big director, with a bigger production value and have beautiful images, it will be nice. I have nothing against large campaigns with large budgets. All what I am saying is, when you don’t have a big budget, you have to think “How do I bring this idea to life and execute it on a budget ?” That exercise is quite interesting and we teach that to all the new hires. It forces you to think in a different way. And when you are capable of doing that, when you can deliver an integrated campaign on a shoestring, you will do great with even more money.
I feel that we should teach that in schools. Damien and me often do visits in schools. There are a lot of schools for advertising students that only teach traditional advertising. Which isn’t necessarily wrong, because coming up for ideas for a print or a film is the same process basically. What should be done, I believe, is asking students to come up with social media campaigns. Also, given the fact, that media costs a lot. And you can touch the same amount of people on social media, but for much cheaper. You just need to execute your idea differently. This type of thinking should be learned earlier in our careers. Once you are familiar with it, all you need is practice.
This is how we think. It helps us a lot and it allows us to take our ideas further.
TNG: IS THERE A CULTURAL OBJECT, A FILM, A SERIES, A VIDEO GAME, THAT YOU ARE WAITING FOR THIS YEAR ?
FF: As for me, I am waiting for 2018. It will be a World Cup year. I had a great 2016 summer in Paris, with the Euro Cup of Nations. We watched the games at the agency.
Also, a lot of movies are expected this year. A big number. I am excited for a lot of them. I like all type of films. I like all type of entertainment and culture. But what I like above all is to be surprised by something that I wasn’t expecting.
At the end of last year, I saw a documentary on French TV. It was called “A Voix Haute”. It was a documentary about a speech competition in the suburbs of Paris. The film crew followed thirty young people that were about to compete. You would see them being taught slam classes, live performance classes and such … You could see the pressure slowly starting to grow. The competition took place in a big auditorium. I was absolutely captivated by this documentary. It moved me. It even made me consider that we should get trained, at the agency, on speech classes.
It is true that creatives sometimes believe that, because they are not account managers, they don’t need to be trained on how to present. But is is a skill that is imperative to possess for everyone. When you are selling an idea to your creative director, you need to know how to present. At every level it is important. Not just inside the agency but also to outside people. We always have to sell and defend our work. We are constantly on a stage.
That’s why I was moved by this documentary. It is a gem. A real surprise. I wasn’t expecting anything from it at all. In 2017, I will love to be surprised by something totally unexpected.
Associate Creative Director
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