The students had spent several weeks working on a Creative Brief, on the course Production for Advertising, and now they would be given some tips and see first hand what the real process involves. The most important element in this subject is creativity and how to allow the students to think beyond the knowledge acquired and see how it unfolds in their imagination, until they create a television advert under the premise of storytelling.
We could never have imagined the interior space we were about to enter, when we first arrived outside this advertising and marketing agency. Just moments before, we were facing the facade of an ordinary building in an emblematic area of Malaga city, La Alcazaba, with only a sign on the corner of the building indicating that we had reached our destination. Behind those insignificant doors lay the most important advertising agency in Andalusia and one of the top twenty in Spain (according to El Publicista ranking, 2016).
We were welcomed by Mari Luz, with whom we had spent more than 3 months preparing for this this visit. Her bright smile and proud face, said it all; the previous night they had received awards in several categories in the Agripina Awards.
In 2016, at this same time of the year, they managed to be the only independent agency in the world to win an Epic Award for the spot “Hari Takuma” from Dunkin ‘Coffee, competing directly with international agencies such as Leo Burnett Chicago, BETC France and Thjnk AG Ruf Lanz Werbeagentur AG / Leo Burnett Germany.
And so, in between gratification and something of a hangover from the celebration of the previous night, she introduced us to Ángela Morón, one of the creative team members of the agency and Digital Marketing Manager, who a few minutes later would reveal some of the agency’s secrets to us. She too apologized for the hangover, but even so made an effort to deliver the whole visit in English. We are extremely grateful for her efforts.
The first thing to catch your attention when you walk in, is the interior architecture of the place. Many decorators, architects and design students come to visit this working space because of its outstanding details. A few meters from the entrance, there is a majestic airplane ladder which separates the consultancy section on the ground floor from the upper floor, reserved exclusively for the creative minds of the agency.
The rooms, rangimg from minimalistic and almost taken out of Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, seem to invite its workers to live in the future, at the forefront of ideas and creation. A territory reserved for ideas, imagination and designed to constantly adapt to the needs of its customers. Everything is designed for mental recreation and organized so that work flows from one department to another. The whole process, from the original idea to it’s final production, takes place there, between those walls. They only outsource certain works with collaborators, but the entire concept remains under their sole supervision. The 33 employees have their photographs proudly pictured on the window glass of one of the rooms.
Ángela, takes us to the main meeting room, the agency’s bunker, propped up with a world map table and a bowl full of plastic soldiers, inviting us to feel like children and play with them. El Cuartel, literally means Barracks.
There, she reveals in a 2-hour presentation, the secrets and anecdotes of her day-to-day world in this prestigious agency and the process of creation of several ads and campaigns.
The list of awards from this modestly sized, independent agency in the city of Málaga is absolutely enviable; they are the second best agency in Spain for the use of Social Networks (according to Alianzo Ranking, 2016); they deliver all the services that a client might require, from Media Planning to Corporate Identity or Strategy and Consultancy. They are pretty much ready for any challenge, they live for them and they deliver.
The MIUC students, at this point could now clearly feel how the stages of process unfold, from when a client first appears with their brand through to the development of the initial ideas within the creative team. Sometimes, she explained, you can spend weeks diving into idea generation, from the slogan to the brand image, and it’s only when those goblins have been tamed, and after many hours of work, and you come up with the perfect idea, that the whole project gathers pace and creativity flows.
One of the examples that the students examined was the famous campaign of Mayoral’s children clothing line, a brand which was existant for over 25 years without any advertising, with sales in multiple countries, and who urgently needed to reconnect with their target audience. El Cuartel decided that Mayoral’s life-time slogan “Making friends” should be enough to reactivate the collective imaginary and decided to conduct a social experiment for its commercial. Such was its impact, with more than 6,200,000 views on YouTube, that it was soon echoed in the press.
The advert is worth seeing:
Following the presentation, we are allowed to get roam around on the second floor and take all the photos that we wished. Some of the creative team come out to greet us from their work tables and offer to take our pictures. There’s a strong sense of pride and satisfaction among them, on this particular Friday morning. José Álvarez, one of our students, described the agency very well. He shared with us that this is how he had imagined the ideal advertising agency to be – small but in the vanguard of creation with very successful results.
It was then time to say goodbye to one of the most prestigious agencies in Spain, who have collected more than 50 international awards in creativity and strategy. We very much look forward to developing a close collaboration between them and our students. Of course, El Cuartel and our students have both chosen the Costa del Sol to develop their projects, because you simply live much better in the South. The agency’s creative team were certainly able to convey this concept most aptly in their San Miguel advert. Take a look and enjoy!