INTERVIEW WITH JUNIOR. António Neto. FCB PORTUGAL

Hey everyone! Don’t read it if creativity in advertising is not your passion. And still do not read it if you have no time. Others please enjoy this big and interesting interview with many advices and stories. Say hello yo António Neto a junior copywriter at FCB Portugal

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What did you do to get a job at FCB Global?

I graduated from a Portuguese University but never got the chance to work in Portugal. So, after studying, interning and freelancing abroad for two years I felt it was time to give it a try. Once I got my diploma from Miami Ad School Berlin I went to Hamburg to present my portfolio to a couple of agencies. It was where I met James Dodd, a Creative Director from FCB Hamburg who, I believe, saw potential in some of my ideas. He recommended me to Luís Silva Dias, CCO of FCB International and President/CEO of FCB Portugal. After checking my portfolio and conducting a quick interview he asked Edson Athayde, CEO and CCO of FCB Lisbon to come into the room and make sure I was a good fit. And here I am.

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How did new colleagues help you with adaptation at the new place?

I was lucky to be hired together with a couple more juniors. On top of that, everyone was really kind, polite and laid back. So it was fairly easy to find people to concept, have lunch with or someone to answer the usual questions. Some of them became friends with whom I’ve been enjoying the fantastic Lisbon Summer.

Which creative person inspires you most?

I guess I’ll have to name three since they all inspire me for different reasons. I’m well aware that this sounds like a giant cliché but Steve Jobs has always been a big inspiration to me. His obsession with creating perfect products sends a strong message. That message is to never settle with just “OK”. In my opinion, not giving this mantra the attention it deserves is what dooms thousands of creative processes. If it’s just OK to you how can you hope that someone will care? Also, his thrilling life, filled with roller coasters, makes him a super relatable character. He shaped a brand he started in his own garage and managed to make it part of our everyday lives. Even if you don’t like or use Apple products you’ll have to admit that’s pretty amazing.

Then comes David Droga. He created an agency that is every creative’s dream. One that manages to create the kind of advertising that doesn’t look like advertising, one hit after another. And he does it in the 21st century, when people have more distractions than a toddler at Toys ‘R Us. Today I was listening to a popular podcast called Freakonomics on what makes a smart TV commercial. It featured a Harvard professor who starred in a couple of Prudential ads created by Droga5. Simply put, a podcast about economics was dedicating an entire show to an advertising campaign. That’s how far their work travels.

In third comes… Well, my mother. This is because she’s one of the best storytellers I know. She knows that if you want people to listen to a boring story you’ll have to make it interesting. My brothers and I make fun of her exaggerations but I’m sure she’d be an amazing copywriter. Gosh, if there’s an award for clichés I’m sure I have a GP here.

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What did you tell your best friend about an agency firstly?

I told my friends that the agency was located in the building where our former prime-minister used to live, that everybody was incredibly talented and that Edson Athayde was sitting a couple of chairs from me (Edson is possibly the biggest name in Portuguese advertising).

Describe your latest day at the agency

We have a big news client that I love working with. This is because they produce a lot of stuff and every brief is as different as it is challenging. In the morning I can be doing branding for one of their projects, in the afternoon I can be thinking about headlines for a print ad and later I can be writing radio scripts. The good thing about a 360º agency like FCB is that you get to tap into every possible media. Go from print to digital activations in the same day. And I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to be given this opportunity.

In your opinion what’s the difference between

FCB Global and other agencies? I never had the chance to work for a small agency. I come from another big network, Ogilvy, where I did my internships and some freelancing. The first thing I noticed about FCB was that everybody works with everybody. The Lisbon office is not that big so you’re close to your superiors and always in touch with them. I believe that the fact that FCB is a huge network creates the feeling of belonging to something bigger. It pushes you to compete (in a good way) with their most successful offices and learn from their greatest achievements.

But one thing emerges from the network’s most celebrated works. The ones that put a strong emphasis on changing perceptions and actions are the ones that get recognized. They’re not just funny or gimmicky advertising pieces with little meaning. Most times they are (they look) dead simple. They identify a problem and solve it in a clear, easy to understand and creative way. But then again this is something that applies to a lot of work that won Cannes this year.

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How do you feel about festival honors?

I’d be lying if I said I don’t care about advertising festivals. I don’t know why, but it looks like «not caring about awards» is a thing. Like every junior (well, some of them lie) I do care about awards and I actually want my work to win something one day. Eventually. Because I believe that winning means that you’ve created something — or that you took part in the creation of something — amazing. Amazing enough to be recognized and celebrated among your peers. Not to say that it pushes your career forward. As far as I know, Cannes is still “the” benchmark, though it does crown «OK» work sometimes (what award show doesn’t?). Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of winning pieces are in fact groundbreaking and superbly executed.

What did creative director say about you latest ideas?

Just to give you an example of how things go around here, once I showed Edson, my boss, a bunch of headlines for a project. He picked the ones he liked — that usually means one or zero — and told me why the other ones wouldn’t work, one by one. So I guess I can say that I’m blessed to work with amazingly talented and experienced mentors. Mentors who are kind enough to praise the work they like. And professional enough to send me back to the drawing board every time they see room for improvement. Not only they tell me why it’s not working, they also point me in the right direction and actually teach something. On my latest ideas, my CD told me they were good to go but that I had misspelled a word on one of my radio scripts. Human after all.

What have you learned at FCB Global through 3 months of your work here?

I’ve learned more in these three months at FCB than in all my internships combined. I’ve lost count of how many projects I’ve worked on. Some include “field trips” to the studio. I’m given responsibility for my work and the chance to give my opinion, which — I feel — is listened. I also became aware that listening is the only way to learn. And that you can only listen by letting others talk. I recommend to everyone to hear as much of what his or her coworkers have to say as they can. Every agency employee has something relevant to teach you. People who have been with the agency for 20 years — even if they’re not from the creative department — know the agency and the industry much better than you do.

What can you advise to start a career in agency of the dream?

I gave up on a career in law to become a copywriter. Three years ago I had no idea what a headline was. I’d say that you should watch as much good advertising as you can. Start with Cannes, Clios, D&ADs… Then Luerzer’, then check some ad websites to see what’s coming from where. Invest, if you can, in a good portfolio school: I did Miami Ad School but there are a couple more options. Build the strongest portfolio you can. Built it with your AD, don’t do it by yourself. Put your heart — and his — into it. Get rid of the «OK» pieces, they might show that you lack good creative direction skills. Learn how to advertise yourself, make yourself interesting! Submit your best work to as many student competitions and websites as you can. Try to get published: it brings recognition and will make a difference. After you’re done with your portfolio I’d recommend you to pick an agency where you feel you’ll learn. An agency where someone you admire works. That’s all that matters. A big paycheck to create Facebook posts everyday will get you nowhere. But this doesn’t mean you should work for free: don’t do it. I mean, one three-month, non-paid internship is OK, more than that is just slavery. Just like my AD says sometimes, “if this job doesn’t pay bills then I don’t care, I’ll go harvest strawberries”. Yes, he can be quite the copywriter sometimes.

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