Argentinian Laura Visco, Deputy Executive Creative Director 72andSunny Amsterdam, created the astonishing ‘Is It Ok for Guys?’ campaign on ‘toxic masculinity’ for Axe global and made it to AdAge’s Creative Director of the Year Finalists 2018 (there were only 6 of them). Here she goes under the radar for our portrait series through 6,5 questions.
1) What was your biggest fear when you just started?
Laura Visco: ‘My biggest fear was to not be able to come up with ideas every day. Which is, in a way, quite a reasonable fear to have. I feel sometimes we take for granted and completely normalize the “always on” aspect of being a creative. So my biggest question was: Shall I do something that feels more “normal” and that will allow me to have a more ordinary life? But then I thought that, well, normal is boring. Later I found out that you can come up with an idea literally anywhere, anytime.’
2) Describe your key-career break moment…
‘The Axe work “Is It Ok for Guys?”. Our task was to redefine what it means to be a young guy today, and have a different take on masculinity. There was a before and after in my career, and my life, in a way. It was the first time ever that I was able to truly express myself through the work I was putting out there in the world. Being responsible for the massive shift this brand made, was a dream come true to me. As a female creative I struggled a lot with the old macho Axe work.’
3) The lesson learned from your most loved mistake…
‘I moved to London a bit too soon. I worked at Fallon as a senior writer but I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to handle moving abroad. When you move abroad you have to start from scratch, learn how to work in a foreign language and also find your way in a country where nobody knows you. It’s tough, emotionally speaking. So my working experience wasn’t great, I really struggled to recognize myself in the work I produced there. I’ve learnt that you are ready when you are ready. When I moved to Amsterdam I already knew what was coming, and I was a lot more prepared for the experience. Also, I didn’t just take the first chance I had, but the one that felt right for me. 72andSunny, combined with Amsterdam, felt like the right agency for me, and the right city, too. Those things are key in an advertising career.’
‘I’m a first idea kind of person, I have noticed. The one that comes from your gut, without thinking too much, is the best one.’
4) Where do you get your inspiration?
‘I think that changes all the time. In the beginning, I used to get inspiration from books, films, live experiences. Now it’s more like having a moment for myself to reflect. Allowing the penny to drop, to stop and think, without any interruptions. We live in a fast-paced world. I have to allow myself to slow down. Having zero interruptions is key for the creative flow to happen. I usually try to go home, or to have a coffee somewhere. Go through the problem again, have another look at the strategy and try to listen to my gut feeling. I’m a first idea kind of person, I have noticed. The one that comes from your gut, without thinking too much, is almost always the best one.’
5) If you want to get ahead in advertising these days, please, please do not ever…
‘Think that people will automatically care about what you do. Don't take people’s attention for granted. Be relevant. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and make work that matters.
We advertising people live in our own bubble sometimes, and we care too much about what happens in our own media outlets and ad festivals. For me it’s a lot more important to do something that connects with real people, not advertising festival delegates.’
‘Don’t just attend advertising schools. Be curious, read books, study film, study sociology, psychology. Get curious about all aspects of communication. Nerd the hell out of it!’
6) If I was a millennial and wanted to start in advertising now, I would…
‘Don’t just attend advertising schools. Be curious, read books, study film, study sociology, psychology. Get curious about all aspects of communication. Nerd the hell out of it. Do a lot of research. I need to deeply understand the subject before I get to the idea phase.’
Speaking of nerdy stuff: the love for ads. What is a recent ad you like?
‘I really like Blood Normal. The first campaign ever that shows real blood instead of blue blood. The aim of this campaign is to normalize periods. I thought I wasn’t going to be alive to witness seeing real blood in pad ads. But here we are. It really feels like a milestone.’
And what, opposed to commercialism, is priceless for you and why?
‘Traveling solo. I’ve been doing it since my teenage years and by exposing myself to the unexpected over and over again I’ve gained a lot of experience and wisdom. It teaches you a lot about the randomness of life and how to embrace that.’
6,5) Also I'd like to state that…
‘As I said before: Normal is boring. What normal is in my humble eyes (laughs)? Normal is being afraid of stepping out of the norm, and just be what’s was expected from you. I was raised in a culture where being different was not encouraged. Not choosing the normal path as a woman was difficult for me at the beginning of my career. Nowadays diversity is a lot more celebrated, but that wasn’t the case when I started working in advertising, only 19 years old. Don’t be normal. Normal is boring.’