Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meet StrawberryFrog's Executive Creative Director Suzana Apelbaum

Here's a nice summer read for everyone! We had a chat with StrawberryFrog's Executive Creative Director and Hyper Island Master Class speaker Suzana Apelbaum about the creative world, successful campaigns and more.

Hi Suzana! Who are you?


I started to work in advertising back in 1995, in Rio de Janeiro. I started in a traditional agency as a copywriter and soon I went to one of the first digital agencies in Brazil. By that time interactive advertising was just beginning so it was a great time of discoveries, explorations, trials, learnings. Since then I’ve been working as a Creative Director in some big agencies like AgenciaClick, JWT, and Africa, and creating campaigns and websites for brands such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Unilever, Red Bull, among others. Also I had my own agency called Hello Interactive. The latter merged with another agency so I decided to change my plans and accepted the invitation to come to StrawberryFrog in NYC to create cultural movements for brands. I love advertising. But I must say that my real passion is theater. I’m a professional actress, I’ve worked in theater and TV for almost 10 years, and I’m always trying to find a way to conciliate this with advertising.

Wow, that's a rather unique background! Does your pro acting skills help you any in your work nowadays?

It definitely helps, in different ways. Theater is all about storytelling, pretty much like advertising. My background as an actress helped me to learn how to observe people and to create genuine characters and dialogues. This is interesting as well in the copy process: think of a brand as a character: you have to know well what is its voice and behavior, so you can write it in a compelling way and bring it to life in a way that gets people really engaged. Also, the fact that I’ve already been on stage and have improvised a lot in big theaters help me to feel more confident and to really enjoy presenting work to all kinds of audience.

What campaign impressed you the most so far this year?

It was the Old Spice Response campaign, where they created 186 video responses to users who were talking online about the campaign. It all started with a TV spot – with a great strategy, a great creative idea and an amazing execution. It was already brilliant and successful, so they could have stopped in there; but the client and the agency really took the campaign to the next level and were able to make more than generating excitement about the brand: they established a valuable relationship with the target, which they can really leverage for the next communications and business efforts.

What do you think lies behind the success of such a campaign?

Two main things: the quality of the creative work, with a hilarious character (‘The man your man could smell like’); and—from the agency and client side—the understanding of how the audience behaves in today’s world, of how they expect to be heard by the brand and want to interact with it in a deeper level. This campaign gives power to the users and even surprises and delights them with a brilliant creative execution.

How has your Master Class experience influenced you in your professional life / eg how do you apply it at Strawberryfrog?

My Master Class got me even more excited about learning from students. In Hyper Island there is such a special group of people with such rich backgrounds, so during the classes they raised interesting points that lead us to really high level discussions and insights. They made me think about things I hadn’t before. Also, the Class helped me to get to know people that I would really enjoy working with some day.

How do you define a good creative?

A good creative is essentially a very curious, open minded and sensitive person. Someone who has an interesting and unexpected point of view on all things in life. Well… I think that’s it :)

Finally, any tips to creatives out there looking to take it to next level and become the best at what they do?

I would tell them to remember that advertising is about people, rather than only about products. So the more they get connected to society and its cultural movements, the bigger are the chances of them to come up with ideas that can make a real difference in the lives of people and brands. Also I’d tell them to keep studying as much as they can, embrace digital tools, and to really invest in practicing what they are passionate about, because this will keep them inspired and will ensure they will be unique in their approach to advertising. More than anything, I’d say: Enjoy life, work hard, and be nice to people :)

Thanks Suzana! Connect with Suzana on Twitter or meet her at Hyper Island's Master Class.

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