Advertising History

ADC’s Ignacio Oreamuno on the Importance of Creative Advertising

Ignacio Oreamuno, Executive Director of the Art Directors Club in New York. Photo by Monte Isom

Ignacio Oreamuno is executive director of the Art Directors Club (ADC),  the first global creative collective of its kind and the longest standing organization championing the visual arts. During the last year, Ignacio brought dramatic change to the ADC. Makegood recently spoke with Ignacio about his position, and passion for creative projects.

What made you fall in love with communications and what is your vision for the ADC?

I have always loved art, photography, film and theatre, but I would have starved to death if I would have pursued any of those as a career. Advertising provided me with a career to play with all those and still pay the mortgage. When I saw a reel of award winning work when I lived in Europe, I fell in love with advertising and knew that I was hooked… for life.

The ADC is the oldest and first advertising and design club in the world. It was born out of the passion of professionals who wanted to appreciate advertising with the same standards as fine art. Since I came in a year ago, we have begun to rebuild a new ADC, one that focuses on art and craft. We are working very hard creating events that connect our members around the world and focus on the basics of art. I think our festival in Miami Beach is the best example of that. We banned advertising speakers and instead invited artists of all different types to lead interactive workshops for everyone that works in advertising. On top of that, we also host film screenings, adventure hikes and tons of networking events out of our headquarters in New York City.

I like to think of the ADC as “the church of art and craft.”

You launched the Tomorrow Awards as part of your mission to change the industry. How is this award show different, what is your criteria, and what is the industry’s lack of understanding?

Award show categories made sense in the past when there were four or five major media types to put them in. Campaigns are no longer able to be slotted in silos; on the contrary, they are very complex hybrids of platforms that range from scanning a QR code somewhere to downloading an app to watching an interactive movie to entering a contest. So I think it is impossible to categorize ads. That’s why the Tomorrow Awards abolished categories when it started three years ago.

The most important thing for me is not awarding great campaigns, but understanding them. In most award shows, we meet, give out golden trophies and then get drunk. We are at a point in the industry where everyone is absolutely confused about what advertising is. We are not even sure how to charge clients, or how to compose teams at agencies. So I think it is irresponsible for award shows to not educate. Just this week we’ve been to tons of agencies giving presentations where we explain the mechanics and the lessons learnt by other agencies in the makings of groundbreaking work.

Anyone can register on as an industry judge and go through all the work thathas been entered. It’s important that the people that make the ads (you) take time to see all the groundbreaking work being done around the world. Don’t make the five ads that won gold at the top awards shows be your only reference for great work. Remember that work entered into the big shows could have been made two years ago. It’s not a good reference for the future.

‘Let’s Make the Industry 50/50’ initiative aims to equal the number of women in award show juries, boards of directors, and events and speaker lineups. How will inspired, talented women change the conversation and our future?

I have a crazy theory that the more women involved in top level conversations (board of directors, award show jury rooms and events), the more interesting, the more intelligent, the more balanced the conversation becomes. I have seen it with my own eyes in my board of directors and in my staff, which is mainly women, and in our jury rooms when we’ve had more women join the debate.

Opponents argue that forcing a balance of women in these situations will decrease the quality of judging and the quality of events. I think that is an offensive thought. In a 500 billion dollar industry that has hundreds of amazing women working with us, I do not think that it should be a problem to find a few amazing women to speak or look at ads and determine the best one.

When a young female creative currently joins the industry, the message is loud and clear, “You can come in, but forget about trying to take the top creative job.” I think the 50/50 initiative will help change this by showing a more diverse group at the top.

Once everyone sees that having more women in the spotlight and in the top levels of conversation makes things better and literally makes more money, it will just ‘click’ one day. We should not live in an industry that needs to manually correct things like this initiative. Let’s just change things and make it happen.

Creatives are still known for agency hopping or launching their own start up. How could agencies and fast growing companies keep their top (awarded) performers?

Right now, we are on the verge of what I predict to be one of the biggest talent crises that the industry will ever face. Why? It used to be that young talent would give an arm and a leg to get into an agency. Those creatives are now running to startups and technology companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook.

The problem here doesn’t lie in salaries or what the job is like. The problem is a lot of people are coming to the realization that the output of agencies — advertising campaigns — are becoming less and less relevant, less real in other words. There’s something about an app or a social media network that feels more real than a TV ad that people are not watching. Five million people are ending their cable subscriptions in the US each year. It only makes sense that the people who makes the commercials are fleeting, too.

I think the agencies that create more real products will be the ones that win the talent back. And by real I mean store design, events, apps, or product design. Talent no longer is interested in creating communications. They want to create things that communicate.

Agencies that invest in their talent and allocate not just time, but also resources to make things that are outside advertising will be the ones that win. It’s time for everyone to create things outside traditional ads and whoever rushes there first will win the talent. The best part of the industry is just beginning. We are very lucky and should embrace it!

The Makegood: Thanks, Ignacio.