My secret friend

I’m going to tell you a secret. About one of the youngest souls I’ve ever met. Back in the day, almost a decade ago, before I joined the Monk family. Not many people trusted the Colombian dating Daniel Monk. They knew I was quiet and smiley at Sunday lunches (my two or three hours of intensive English, trying to catch up with all the members of the family) They knew I was studying English and working at¬†cafes, restaurants, bars and various roles during my leap year from advertising. Some of them never understood a word of what I said because of my accent, others welcomed me with a smile and a pint of beer ūüôā But everything went wrong when we decided to get married in Colombia ah oh! Just a few months after the proposal, it was the Battle of Hastlings! Although, after living in the UK, I understand now why Dan’s family got upset with the sudden news as British people plan everything a long way in advance. At that time, I was thinking of love,¬†a wedding on the beach, a great goodbye to my family in Colombia and happiness.

Despite all the circumstances there was one person that accepted me from the first day. She knew her grandson was happy and that was enough.

She was the most modern Granny I’ve known, back in 2009 she was using email, ebay, facebook and everything to keep in touch with her family. Wherever we were, she was the childish one in the room, doing silly things and making people laugh. I think that’s why we became good friends as I deny the fact that we need to¬†grow up! Therefore we started gossiping online, asking how Monday was going?… asking about the wedding planning?… ¬†I told her it was going to be a hot¬†day and this was her reply:

As far as your dress is concerned, if it is going to be that hot I suggest you have a nudist wedding !

We kept sending funny attachments, having tea rooms in our emails and sometimes secret Pentagon communications. I was just talking about life and she was teaching me old English sayings: (to name a few)

Straight from the horses mouth

It will all come out in the wash

She was wise and also beautiful, always looking elegant but never showing off. She married the most handsome British guy I’ve seen in pictures (probably shouldn’t say this on the post :P) and looked after her family as her treasure. When the Monks adopted the Colombian, she became my angel in the UK (as my mother used to say)

My secret friend was bilingual as well. Every time my Mum came from Colombia, there she was inviting us to try her specialities at home and speaking the few Spanish sentences that she had learnt. She made an effort, yes, she was always going the extra mile with everything and that’s what makes her special.

I have read the emails we used to exchange again, it makes me laugh and it makes me cry. Not in that same order.

Well Martica the time has come !!  We have sent your future husband to you and are entrusting him into your care.
He is very precious to us so make sure you take care of him which I am sure you will do !!

We love you too and wish you all the happiness in the world. !!

I do hope the baby does not kick too much on the wedding day. lol

xxxxx

I can copy and paste loooots¬†of our emails, so you could imagine or remember who she was, but that’s not the agreement. A secret friend listens to you and keeps all your stories in a secret place, tries to understand and sometimes gives you advice, making you stronger, making you better.

I remember her today, on the 14th of July, on her birthday. Her name is Betty and she will always be my secret friend.

Maybe this is the saddest article I have ever written. Sometimes sad beginnings lead to something good.

 

 

Start

This is something I read yesterday and became the first thing I want to read today and tomorrow.

“…The willingness to start is the littlest thing in life that makes the biggest difference.

Step onto the field.

Stand up in the meeting.

Raise your hand in class.

Get under the bar.

Walk up to the podium.

Ask the first question.”

 

start1

Read the full article here: Why Getting Started is More Important Than Succeeding .

P.S. There is an interesting reading list too. But remember less reading and more doing.

We are not afraid

Nunca se me olvidar√° la cara de felicidad de mi Mam√° cuando vio el Big Ben. Se par√≥ de la silla a contemplar la torre, los edificios antiguos, los √°rboles, el cielo, la cabina roja, el r√≠o y todo lo que estuviera presente. Y aunque le dijeran en los 5 idiomas del tour que por favor se sentara; ella solo sonre√≠a y memorizaba cada cosa. 

Westminster es tambi√©n uno de mis sitios favoritos. Es el lugar que visit√© cuando llegu√© por primera vez a Londres y a√ļn despu√©s de 524.000 visitas m√°s, me causa la misma admiraci√≥n. #wearenotafraid #prayforlondon

Why I refuse to watch “Narcos”

Because I’m bored.¬†I’m bored of people only relating Colombia to drug trafficking and jungles.

Yes… it’s a stereotype, yes… most of countries have a¬†stigma… ¬†yes, we had big drug cartels in the 80’s and 90’s, but there are far more interesting things to know and learn about Colombia.

My fellow countrymen and I have had lots of problems because of this. To tell you a few, airports are a nightmare when you proudly show your Colombian passport; you are at least getting stopped and missing your connecting flight. My brother had all his trainers stabbed at Panam√°, all of them (so every time it rains a great memory comes to mind). Some¬†friends have been¬†stopped for hours and scanned with X-rays, I saw when someone in the queue had¬†lots of souvenirs and¬†tablets¬†of chocolates opened and destroyed into tiny pieces -“Ok, no drugs here, carry on”-said the officer- Thank you! Lastly… I’ve¬†heard the comments…¬†-so your teeth are white because of cocaine? – there are plenty of silly comments and¬†stories but I’m going to stop here, because this post is not about the bad.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our problems and every country does, although I¬†don’t like news, documentaries¬†and now tv series promoting the bad for years and years. There is nothings else to say? Come on people!

Instead of getting to know about Escobar, I will teach you other surnames so next time you meet a Colombian you can establish a proper conversation with a different topic.

Keeping with the sporty spirit after the Olympics.¬†Why don’t you Google Nairo Quintana? The first Colombian in history to win both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espa√Īa. Have a look at his documentary called “Little Big Man“.

Have you read any Gabriel Garc√≠a M√°rquez books? His Noble Prize winning novel ‚ÄúOne Hundred Year of Solitude‚ÄĚ? According to Vox, this book has the greatest opening of any book ever (ahhhh now you are feeling like reading, aren’t you?)¬†If you aren’t the book worm type, read one of his short stories¬†A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings¬†and get an idea of his extraordinary work.

Not all Colombians are short, have a look at the power of long legs. Clic on the link and watch¬†Caterine Ibarg√ľen¬†winning the women’s triple jump Olympic¬†gold medal in¬†R√≠o.

Have you seen the¬†latest video of Shakira and Carlos Vives? Let me rephrase it, have you danced¬†“La Bicicleta”? It has a great rhythm and you can go for a stroll around Barranquilla (a city on the coast). Yes, we do have cities and shopping centres.

Nevertheless¬†if your mind keeps calling for Medell√≠n you should get to know about ‘Boterismo’. Have you¬†stumble across¬†a fat sculpture in an airport or a square? If so, you have found¬†Fernando Botero‘s work. We call it “Las gorditas”, people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. Botero’s sculptures and paintings are exhibited in NY, Paris and several places around the world.

Start remembering other Colombian¬†surnames, like QUINTANA, GARC√ćA M√ĀRQUEZ, VIVES, BOTERO and not even just surnames of famous people. I know many Colombians that make me proud, starting with los TOLOSA, a fantastic family that likes spontaneous trips and have always been there for me. J.P. SALAZAR, founder of the first team of wheelchair rugby in Colombia, promoting social inclusion and encouraging many people with disabilities to get involved with sports, M.¬†GARCIA, brave enough to¬†start her¬†food business in London, D. VARGAS¬†exhibiting and selling breathtaking¬†paintings, V. ALBA and her spectacular¬†fashion at Bendita Seas, talented art directors, planners, engineers, doctors, …

There are many Colombians with an interesting life story, they are the ones that¬†can teach¬†you the real Colombia. Happy, strong and imperfect and that’s how¬†I love it.

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Unlimited Day

Last Wednesday I was part of the team representing Ariadna at the Unlimited Day, an annual event held by Creston that aims to gather all the independent agencies within the network: The Unlimited Group, a day to showcase the best work, award innovative ideas and to inspire the group by showing ambitious goals and our journey there.

A hot choc started my day -I needed some calories for an Unlimited Day. The morning flew by with great speakers and case studies, really good work from brands targeting Mums such as Aptawell and Babycare, based on insights that made me feel truly identified with.

The multi-awarded campaign Bad Barista, demonstrated that pharma can be rather creative, disrupting the boring communications doctors receive day after day. It also showed how important is branding in pharmaceuticals.

Bad Barista.jpg

TMW was on stage, showing us how they revamped Lynx on digital, with a more human and real approach by launching the  #MenInProgress series. Short stories that challenge perceptions of the modern man, the ones that cry, laugh, share thoughts, feelings; speaking their mind in a wonderful way and celebrating masculinity regardless of background, race, or sexual orientation.

Men in Progress.jpg

18 Feet & Rising impressed me with the work they did for House of Fraser last Christmas, breaking all the rules for a traditional ad. The 100-second ad is a powerful¬†mix of quirkiness, fashion and music¬†in an¬†stylish and¬†distinctive way. The idea behind¬†‚Äėyour Christmas, your rules‚Äô is to invite¬†people to embrace their¬†own quirks and traditions, that¬†is what¬†makes the holidays special. And watching the video¬†on a big screen is a completely different experience!

Will Hart from Canon shared his views as an Unlimited Client, from a very honest and motivating point of view. Basically, when mobile phones gave the user the option to take pictures, the camera industry collapsed but they remained strong. As partners, client and agency work together to find a solution. Now the business is evolving and finding profitable opportunities in the printing market.

David Davies, Managing Director of Content at Cannes Lions, started the afternoon session, highlighting the importance of Creativity, recalling moments from the festival, keynotes from different speakers, brands charts and even books bringing up the debate between creativity and business results.

The case for creativity.jpg

 

‚ÄúThe most intimidating thing a client can do is trust their agency.‚ÄĚ David Droga

After all the inspiration, it was time for the¬†Expo. A slot in the agenda where¬†companies had to¬†introduce themselves to the group (like speed dating without the drawbacks). We met teams from all across the globe, agencies¬†from Germany, US, UK, Japan, everywhere. Ariadna brought the Latam quota to the network, from February 2016 we joined the partnership, so if you didn’t know you could work with a sister agency in Miami, Colombia, Brazil and most countries in South America, now you know!

Time was against us, so we kept getting to know each other during the BBQ, also -chatting flows better with a drink. At the end of the day, I had 3 words in my mind: Diversity, Collaboration and Innovation .

Theoretically, the Unlimited Day finished, but for me it hasn’t. Every day we can be part of a team, give our best, get inspired by others and discover unlimited opportunities.

 

Mixed herbs can teach you a lesson

Last week¬†I¬†went to Sainsbury’s for a¬†quick shop and found out¬†they had changed their entire¬†spice section. Writing about spices and supermarkets, it could sound quite boring right? But it gets better so keep reading.

The thing is… I couldn’t find the brand that I usually buy, ironically I don’t remember its name, I just know how it looks -it’s the little jar with the green lid. Branding fail or not? My brain only remembered the visual aspect, so when I was looking for mixed herbs, oregano … bla bla bla,¬†they are all now branded Sainsbury’s. As I’m in the ad world I started¬†analysing the packaging, label, typography, colours, they all look clear and simple. The design is quite good and functional, the best thing: now you can read what you have from the top, (before there was only a big letter and the herbs’ name in tiny tiny letters), and while cooking you don’t have time to play the game of lifting 3 or 4 spices before you find the one you need.

According to Campaign Live¬†the dry culinary complements market in the UK, which includes herbs, spices and seasonings, is worth about ¬£92m.¬†¬†So when Sainsbury’s starts branding their¬†own herbs they are getting a¬†big slice of the¬†category. There are business opportunities everywhere, even on little things such as seeds and spices.

That day I¬†organised my laptop, created a plan and now I’m contacting small businesses who want to do great things. The¬†big¬†lesson here is start seeding.

We tent to think that making a smart move is making a big move. Sometimes small steps can get you further.

 

To be continued

Many¬†people have trouble¬†sleeping.¬†In my case… I have a beautiful newborn called Sofia and also keep thinking I need to keep this blog alive. As¬†if life¬†with 2 little girls wasn’t enough, I added another kid to the family: my Blog.¬†Yep, at 2:30am, apart from staring at my baby, catching up on Fb, Instagram and the chats of¬†WhatsApp, all ideas come to mind. Therefore I decided to get rid of these drafts¬†that have been sitting for a while on my WordPress. With few changes and edits, one by one they will overcome their shyness.

TRAVEL WITH STYLE

I worked with Ariadna US on different digital campaigns for the travel industry. I love travelling, so I considered myself the target. As part of the creative process, I started my research looking for brands that were doing an innovative work in this category.

  • JetBlue. It is not just an¬†airline, it¬†also offers flights, hotels, wheels and more via their JetBlue Getaways, but people didn’t know. That’s why they¬†launched¬†Get Away with it¬†, the first-ever live online game show using Skype. ¬†The show aired five times a day daily for five days¬†and¬†attracted a large audience, reaching fans on real time and¬†promoting the airline‚Äôs vacation packages.JetBlue - Get away with it
  • Guy Cotten.¬†French nautical outfitters launched a drowning simulator.¬†Sortie en mer¬†is¬† a¬†realistic experience in which viewers continuously scroll up a page to stay afloat. Encouraging more people to wear life jackets when they go out at¬†sea. Click on the link and try to stay alive, it’s good exercise to your fingers.

Sortie en mer - Guy Cotten

  • J. Crew. ¬†If you watch “Travel with Style” you are going to fall in love with it [unless you are my brother and don’t care about ads at all]. The idea, shots, music, the way they¬†play with the suits, everything. Casey Neistat is great at doing videos! This one is definitely an innovative way to show the product and a faultless¬†job.

And after all the inspiring bits, I must confess is quite difficult to finish an article that started ages¬†ago. I keep thinking the perfect end…writing and crossing lines (deleting in this case) and I’m still deciding the best way to finish it. Probably this post doesn’t need an end, it needs more practice.¬†Writing is a habit and there is only one way to master it.

Shooting at the center

In the creative industry we ¬†look for ideas 24 hours a day, no word of a lie. ¬†Last weekend I was moving house, something to feel very excited about, but¬†every time I was carrying a box, cleaning the place or unpacking, I was thinking of¬†KFC. I had a presentation on Monday, so no time to bake a cake for the neighbours jaja…not that I was intending to. The idea had to be born over the weekend so I kept linking pieces of information in my brain, while¬†assembling a cot. I’m glad I had the help of my UK family. Long story short, the idea came but the house is still a mess.

What’s the trick to getting an idea? When¬†you¬†need some inspiration, you must speak your mind and listen to what’s going on around you. Brainstorming with people from work is always effective. Researching and experiencing as much as you can about the product and the target will lead to discoveries. The classic online inspiration: vimeo, youtube¬†videos, reading blogs, ad awards and case studies are all valid; if others did it you can too! And remember to¬†keep an eye¬†on the news (not really, the news is disappointing).

From all of them, my favourite is to listen to people who don’t work in advertising, they are my innocent source of¬†insights and my real target. They skip ads instead of looking for them, they don’t know about Cannes and the campaigns with the most awards – but they teach you a lot about¬†different topics. They are¬†thinking¬†outside of the box, because they are outside the¬†box.

When I was fine-tuning my¬†idea, my husband was¬†watching a youtube channel called SMARTER EVERY DAY. You should watch it, it’s great!¬†That’s how I¬†discovered Byron Ferguson, an¬†unbelievably good archer. He can shoot an aspirin in mid air. What??¬†Yes, he can hit an aspirin, with a bow and arrow. Impressive!

When people ask what’s the secret, he replies: “Shoot at the center. The center of the Aspirin is exactly the same as the center of a beach ball – it’s a point”.¬†And that’s how good ideas should be born, by shooting straight to the point.

Hyperactive Mum

Today I’m feeling motherly,¬†this is probably due to the fact I have a 9 month old baby. One of my good friends gave birth on Friday and also that May is mothers’ month in Latin America. I know I live in England but I can’t get over it….or maybe I want to celebrate it twice a year?¬†Jaja¬†probably. Anyway, here I am writing and¬†feeling inspired by my baby Isabella. Isabellita to her friends.

I’m not planning to have a blog about my baby but with 27465 pics taken every day I should. ¬†So let’s start with the truth.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps” that’s a lie. That’s your precious time to do¬†everything else. When you have a baby, the word ‘selfish’ gets deleted from your brain, from that moment your life is not just about you, so bye bye selfies and bye bye sleeping till midday on Saturdays.

I have always been a bit hyperactive, so motherhood didn’t hit me that badly. I remember when a friend of mine was asking few months ago “Is Isabella¬†good at night?” and I proudly said “Yes, she only wakes up at 11pm and then 3am and then 6am, so it’s fine”.¬†She sounded¬†surprised at the time and now that I think about it, I’m feeling surprised too. The thing is…when you become a mother you¬†acquire super powers,¬†somehow you start¬†multitasking¬†and transform yourself¬†into a¬†human being with endless energy. Yep, you never stop.

On TV ads, motherhood seems so cute and easy. Baby yawns, baby smiles, mother smiles, father hugs and all the family get together in the frame, then fade to white. In real life it’s this plus 100 more things. So it can be hectic at the beginning,¬†but it’s amazing seeing your baby smiling, clapping, sitting back, learning from zero. It reminds you to explore and rediscover ¬†things.

The most extraordinary thing is that being a mother puts some pressure on you, not only economically, but you need  to be the best that you can be, for their future and every day too as they copy what you do. Bear in mind, you are the person in charge of showing them the world, ah oh!

I was waiting until everything in my life was perfect to have babies; classic list: job, house… ¬†but great things happen to imperfect moments. I managed to get a job whilst pregnant -and yes, they knew it¬†before hiring me-. It’s a digital agency¬†based in Miami and¬†the time difference works in my favour. Sometimes I can’t concentrate and sometimes I don’t have much time, but I do my best and get my ideas on.¬†How do you do it? You just do it!¬†If J.K. Rowling wrote¬†Harry Potter in a coffee shop¬†with a baby, you can do whatever you want.

A baby is not an excuse stopping you from doing the things that you like. It’s the reason you should do them all.

Isabella