«EVERYTHING IS LOCAL, GLOBAL DOES NOT EXIST. I HAVE THREE PASSPORTS, BUT I CAN’T GET A GLOBAL PASSPORT.» Sergio Lopez
Interview Patrick Weiss, Stefan Jermann
Portrait Stefan Jermann
Mirus: What’s the first thing you usually do in the morning?
Sergio Lopez: I make my bed.
You make your bed?
Yes. Even when I stay at a hotel I start my day by making my bed. I was working on a project for the US Army and when I met the general I asked him that exact same question: What’s the first thing you do in the morning? He answered: I make my bed. And I was like, why are you making your bed? He answered that it gives you the feeling that you achieved something. So, you start the day feeling that you have done something you can be proud of. Ever since that conversation, I too start my day by making my bed – even when staying at a hotel.
Let’s talk a bit about your métier d’art. How do you think brand storytelling is going to change based on all the new technologies that we have now?
If I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t be here with you right now, I would be sitting on a £20 million yacht (laughs). I do think that storytelling is going to change based on two things: technology and data. Ever since I started in the business it’s been about creating a feeling of what is going to resonate within popular culture. Before, there was a set of clear ways of telling a story, it was almost like a television series, it lasted 25 minutes. You had the case at the beginning, the case in the middle and the case at the end. Now you have more freedom to tell a story. There are different ways to engage with the audience and to tell a story. A good example is the campaign we did for Santander which just won a Lions Grand Prix. The tools to play with are insane.
Now, my question is: with all the technology available it is also becoming really overwhelming: people are focusing too much on technical aspects that can lead to a really lame story. So, the question is going to be: how do you keep the artistry on the art of telling stories. What is more complex than that? Because when you are using data for example, you connect the dots from A to B in a really obvious way. What is the evolution of that, how do you introduce artistry and creativity and are you still able to tell a story differently to everyone else?
How much are the clients forcing you to rely on data?
It’s not that clients are forcing us as such, but are they exerting some pressure because they want the campaign to work. This is completely understandable with everybody introducing new technologies and new ways of working.
What is the key element for a good story and to what extent can a producer influence those?
I really like that question (smiles). In advertising the role of a producer is an executional role. In entertainment, it’s very much the role of an architect, of how to tell the story and how to promote it. The producer may hire the writer and then a director. People are focusing very much on how to bring things to life. That is the part that excites me as a producer, to be able to have a big idea and to connect the dots.
Do you rely on a personal network?
In my department, I have three people constantly doing research, managing freelancers. The work that we have won awards for in the last three years is the result of a valuable network.
Name three elements that make an exceptional campaign.
To begin with you need a good idea and people who know how to tell a good story. Steven Spielberg is a good example. If he started making movies in 360 his movies wouldn’t be as powerful as they are. And lastly, it’s the attention to detail and how things are made and so on.
What has changed in the production process in the last five years? If there has been a change…
Well, the change is that it used to be a very linear production process that everybody understood. I could write it in on a napkin what the production process was and that hasn’t changed since the 30s. I remember when I got my first job somebody gave me a book of how production works dating back to the 60’s.
What was your first job?
I was a producer, a film producer. Before I was an editor. Nowadays there is no process, so it’s very difficult to have one process that fits all. So, what has changed for producers is that you have to rethink the process. Now I ask how I will get from A to B without compromising the creatives, in a way that advertises the brand, protecting the client and not getting into trouble.
For example we helped a brewery develop a new beer, called “Responsibly”. That went from research up to brand development. We always had to make sure that it was legal. It’s very different from dealing with influences like that.
We talked a little bit about the magazine that we are running. Mirus Magazine is focused in terms of storytelling for people, creating mostly little micro interventions for their communities that leave a lasting impact. How important is the local factor for you as a producer?
Everything is local, global does not exist, I have 3 passports, but I cannot get a global passport. Global is the addition of local. When I talk to my clients the first thing that everybody cares about is how the local markets react. The clients who are doing well globally, in my experience, are the ones that focus on local first, because global doesn’t exist.
Let’s say that you produce a campaign for one market, are you going to adapt locally to another market?
It depends. There are things that you can use or cannot use in these markets to tell the same story, to connect in the same way. It’s more about how you are going to tell a story in different cultures. Could you tell the same story in the same way? We have a team that is specialized in that. Every time we have an idea they work on that. We call it culture vetting. They will tell you, for example, in Saudi Arabia you cannot do typography of somebody’s face or crop their head. It’s offensive.
Beyond that we have to able to identify what is so relevant to that culture without causing offense. Most of the successful campaigns are those that resonate with the local market.
What are the major challenges you are facing in the next few years to come?
The lack of a model and the lack of channels where I can tell stories. Even those channels keep constantly changing. Just look at how different Facebook is now from three years ago. How is augmented reality or virtual reality being used? And how do you produce beautiful content for that? I haven’t seen a lot of good storytelling in virtual reality. I haven’t seen anything that made me feel like I would like to own a pair of glasses at home. So, that’s the challenge, how to tell a beautiful story that’s creative and relevant.
That takes us to the last question, what’s the last thing you do before going to sleep?
I totally destroy my bed, doing fun things. Nothing that can’t be done in bed is worth doing. Everything in bed is better, waiting in bed is better than waiting anywhere else. Having dinner in bed is better than having dinner anywhere else. And I am going stop there, but yes, that is what I do. I totally enjoy being in bed.