Season: 1   |   Episode: 1

Sergio Lopez-Ferrero

This week on The MCA Prodcast Pat Murphy talks to Sergio Lopez-Ferrero, Global Head of Production at The Publicis Groupe.

Sergio explains how the media landscape is changing, and with more outlets and more ways to engage with content creative needs to be more widespread and long lasting. A simple 3-month TV campaign just isn’t enough anymore; campaigns need to be multiplatform and run over a much longer period to really gain traction. Pat and Sergio discuss the challenges that can arise when clients don’t understand the value in alternative media platforms or are resistant to change.

Sergio talks about how the media landscape is becoming more personalised as consumption habits change. How can production change and be ‘smarter’ in order to deliver this personalised experience?

Sergio also considers where The Publicis Groupe and other producers can source their talent – the industries that are feeding into the production industry and how to go about finding great people.

Watch Sergio’s favourite ad:  Levis – Swimmer

 

Hosted by Pat Murphy

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Pat Murphy:

Hi, and welcome to the MCA Prodcast – your fix for everything innovative in advertising production. I’m Pat Murphy, and I’ve been working in this industry for more than 35 years. And I’ve seen a lot of changes, but know that there are many more around the corner.

Each week on our Prodcast you’ll get to hear from one of the movers and shakers who are shaping the world of production for the future. And we’ll dive into some of the key challenges facing our sector today and how we’re best placed to overcome them.

Today you’re gonna meet Sergio Lopez Ferrero. Sergio is someone I’ve known and admired for a very long time. He’s the Global Head of Production at The Publicis Groupe, and he’s an expert in managing production across the world. Working with well-known brands, such as Coca-Cola MasterCard and Sony to name just a few as well as winning many industry awards in his career.  In today’s podcast, Sergio we’ll be discussing the way production is changing and adapting to the changing needs of the modern marketing environment. Welcome Sergio to our Prodcast.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

Thank you. Thank you Pat.

Pat Murphy:

Now I was reading with interest, the piece that you wrote for The Drum back in February of this year you were talking about no longer being a silver bullet and that production is not about delivering campaigns, but delivering engagement. Where do you see this being most evident in the industry? And, and do you have a good example to bring this to life for us?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

I mean, I think it says as, as usual with starting that in passion brands, right? Like brands that people start connecting with, it’s just because of social media, the way people are engaging with, with content is not a three-month stint anymore. They they’re very much connecting the long term and, and they build a relationship with a brand or with a creative that is being done.

You’re asking in car advertising, how it’s not just about a television commercial that is totally separate from the experience in the, in the dealership and totally different in the, in the website. Fashion brands, is another one with clients like L’Oreal that we work with, you can tell how there is an entire experience that they want to, to engage with when they buy specific makeup or specific nail polish. It’s not just about the last commercials, like they want to that experience where they see where with influencers on social media, where they see where they see in, if you look at television, media spend for the first time, history is gone below 20%, which means that there’s another 80% that people that people are connecting with.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

And that’s why I think that’s not just about a campaign with the television, some print and some, some radio that just lasts for two or three months, and then we throw it away and we start all over. Again. It, it requires another like longer engagement, not for production, but also on a strategy and, and creative.

Pat Murphy:

Do you think it’s nowadays having to provide some value to the consumer more than ever before – creating content and entertainment, is that a really important thing for, for clients to bear in mind these days?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

It’s very dimensional. It’s about providing entertainment. It’s about providing education. You see on some brands mm-hmm, <affirmative> like DIY brands, right? Like brands like clothes or Home Depot that that people are, are almost demanded that they use and that then teach them how to use their products and, and educate them.

And then there is another dimension, which is social responsibility. If you, if you run back and it was, there’s such that disenchantment with people with the political class these days, and some level of, of skepticism that they put a lot of pressure on brands to actually make the world a better place. It’s it’s there was a, was a statistic that 70% of people think that brands are responsible for making, for improving the situation and the world with diversity, inclusion and also with environment. So that’s why I think it’s, there a bigger thing that yes, telling a, a, a quick story. There is a demand that, that brand, that plays bigger role in in an individual.

Pat Murphy:

There’s a whole load of more things that you have to bear in mind when doing production these days compared to when you and I started a long, very long time ago. Things like D&I obviously, and, and social responsibility, you know, is that a really big part of the planning pre-pro when you, when you’re working on production?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

It is now, I mean, it is now because remember that our agencies are made out of people and these people, we, we do care about these things and we, and we have increasingly people that came from what we call underrepresented demographics, which is a really good, it’s a really good thing in a, in a, in a business that is all about new and different bringing different voices and different perspective actually leads to better creative. So it’s, it’s not a good to have. It’s actually a really, it’s a really interesting thing. And those people do care, especially the younger generations about the environment. Production in particular production. In particular, I think like Ad Green’s numbers was saying that it’s 25% of the CO2 emissions in advertising. So people are, are, starting to question how many people are sending to shoots and, and what are we doing with those huge sets that we build? What do we do with them when we, when we disregard them? So there’s a lot more planning, planning on that, but it’s very quickly becoming second nature. I mean, that’s the that’s thing, and it’s a lot of very make sense kind of kind approach to kind of approach to that, that everybody’s embracing. I don’t think that they’re looking at it as a, as a burden, but actually, I, it, something that everybody’s committed to,

Pat Murphy:

One of the things that you and I have often talked about is trust. And trust is a key thing I believe in delivering effective work. And we still hear clients complain that for many that the answer to every problem is a 30” TV ad. This can’t be the start point anymore. And certainly doesn’t help the complex challenges around producing and delivering a whole range of assets these days. How do agencies regain that trust? If there seems a resistance to change?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

I think that, that, before we talk about trust, we talk about, we need to talk about, like, trust comes from be able to confidently deliver on things. The challenge has been in the last few, like I would say in the last 10, 15 years, technology has moved faster than we could adapt to that.

When you look at, from digital to social, to then marketing personalisation. And it’s very, I think that one of the mistakes looking back that we might have made at an industry is confidently looking at a client and say, ‘of course, we know how to do that’ when nobody knew, because it was an innovation area, right? There is no, there is nobody, who’s a executive creative director level of The Metaverse right now, because metaverse is – it hasn’t been long enough for somebody to be an expert.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

There’s people that know how to innovate better than better than others. And it’s getting to that conversation with, with clients. What it is, is very, be able to openly have conversations around this innovation and we need to, to innovate. And no, you cannot measure of metaverse ROI in the same way that you do television, which has been around for 70 years, right? But at the same time is something that is because you come from generations of people that were deeply into gaming and, and, and people that, that looking for experience, it seems like it’s the right thing to do. It’s easier for bigger brands because they have money. They have funds to, to play and they, and they understand that it’s beneficial for them to be ahead of the curve, dipping their toes into those things. But but the evolution needs to need, there needs to be a conversation about, we don’t know where this is going yet. We, we can see, we can see areas where this is going, but we need to go together. If you wanna be at the Vanguard of, of brand innovation and, and brand and brand voice, if you do not wanna be at the Vanguard waits three, four years, until there are true experts in this area. And, you know, and we’ll be able to, to talk to you about like budgets, performance, return, all those, all those things.

Pat Murphy:

Talking of metaverse one of the, I think one of the things we should do is hire our kids. <Laugh> because my, my, my son is so engrossed in, in things like Roblox and, and Minecraft and stuff. He, he knows way more than I do.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

<Laugh> Absolutely same thing here.

Pat Murphy:

Actually reverting back to your article, which I love by the way in drum, you, you mentioned about technology, particularly things like remote viewing that’s happened over in the last couple of years. Are you seeing a, a reversion back to where we were before? I, I think I’m seeing some clients and agencies travelling as they used to. Are you seeing that on your side?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

I don’t. There was somebody that had said I’m no sad about the past, but I certainly don’t want to go back to it!

Yes, there brands that are doing that are doing that. And for a range of reasons, right there is, it’s true that there is, especially if you look at the pharma world is there was a true role for clients to be on site because there’s a lot of things that need to be approved, right? Like everything that deviates from, from an FDA approved script, you need to have lawyers, you need to have a number of people, be able to make, to make decisions and having people on site be able to make those decisions might help.

There’s another clients, especially smaller clients, where they used to see the marketing, the, the television shoot as a way to reward the team for, for work and their, then they’re going as, as well.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

But then there is a majority of large, of large clients where they’re actually quite happy not having to travel anymore. And, and they’re benefiting from, I dunno, we open our South Africa hub and we have a, a remote supervision system now where, before from the United States going to South Africa, sometimes it was a four day trip, right? Like two days there, two days back, and it require at least like a three day shoot to be able to justify you the travel expense. And now they see that they can dial in and benefit from that. And they don’t have to travel. And, and there’s a lot of people that don’t, don’t enjoy traveling and leaving their families. And, you know, they like me being in those places, like, like living those places for, for a long time. So I think there is like different reasons for, for different, for different people. I can see that the conversation about the time they used to consume having easier access to, to those production hubs that are remote, but they’re creative and, and, and very competitive on cost and the impact that it has in the environment of not having to travel 15 people across the world, they are, they’re very appealing. And I think that we’ll see very quickly how, how it’s getting to, how it’s getting yeah.

Pat Murphy:

To address the challenges of a changing world. You talked in your article about ‘think big picture’ and needing to look at brands overall marketing needs as the door to architect a smart ecosystem, a production ecosystem. What, what do you see as the key marketing needs driving change in production?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

I think the main marketing need right now is – we’re talking to an audience that is becoming increasingly sophisticated because of technology. If you look at how we like everybody behaves already, when we’re consuming content through Netflix and, and we like our content to be tailored to what we want, see some thing with on Spotify, same thing with purchases on Amazon as we’re shifting from linear television to, to more smart television or on demand television. And we’re looking at content on, on pre-roll with, with platforms like YouTube people demand to have not just better brand targeting or message targeting like better idea targeting, right? Like when I think that people are very are happy to give up data their data, as long as they get something in return, which is relevancy or something that they, that they, that they like. And that is leading to complexity.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

When you have, when you have brands like FMCG brands, if you’re talking about Coca-Cola, which appeals to, you know, has very broad audience and a lot of different demographics, the challenges, personalisation, and personalisation, there are wonderful things that we can do now with media, with media tools, with BCO, with BCE, with, and the challenge with that is be able to feed those fantastic machines with enough content that is relevant. And that’s why looking at things on a, on a holistic way on the, on the asset production, which is the more time and money consuming, and be able to do a creative that works in placing different levels. So now it’s not yet about changing the story, but knowing that your 45+ demographic might be interested in lifestyle and your 20 something demographic in a current brand, but can be interested about features. How do you produce those things without doubling your marketing budget? And that’s when doing smart things. That’s when now we’re at a time, which is very exciting with virtual sets with, you know, text to speech, with CGI, with, to be able to look at the whole thing and say, how do we achieve this goal to deliver better return investment to our clients.

Pat Murphy:

Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> that growth in personalised advertising is obviously, you know, it’s come to the fore right now and data driving insights, but historically data has not been something that’s been embraced by creatives. Do you think that’s changed?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

Data has complexity and it’s, and it’s very challenging. You can very quickly go down the rabbit hole and find it overwhelming. And, and there is a tension between two, between two sides, which is media is very excited about the level of personalisation and measurement. Creative very much still wants to have that brand-building. So is that, that potential between like brand building and performance. And I think that in the middle, what we, what we’re doing and what we have to do is actually made a roadmap to go from one to the other. It’s very difficult to go from producing one commercial to producing a million commercials, right? And, and before we talk about personalisation, maybe we need to talk about audiences. Maybe we need to talk about the other things, creatives. I think that good creatives, they like to have some data because it gives them a framework it’s is having a good insight, helps them work around, have something to, to start building from having some that, I mean, that’s, that’s the role of, of roles that we’re seeing now, like data translators or, or data analysis. I remember like when, when we started getting data that people were very excited about the data sets and every month we have a report of hundred and 50 pages of data, right. Which was just numbers and, and charts that now we’re turning that data to few very interesting insights, which is a lot, it’s a, it’s a healthier, more smart way to actually have creatives build on that.

Pat Murphy:

We often see that the biggest challenges to change are historic practices and ways of working on the client side, particularly the way scopes of work are defined or how budgets are set. What, what advice would you give a client on the changes they may need to make internally to adapt to a new production ecosystem?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

If you feel that you don’t have a, somebody you can partner with fired, that person will hire a new one. I know that it sounds, I know that it sounds brutal.

Pat Murphy:

I can think of one

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

<Laugh>, you know, but, but it’s a, but it’s a kind thing where, where I do, I do believe that now production strategies it’s an important thing. Advertising, wanting to think in the way that other, other communication industries like publishing or, or entertainment, look at, look at production. And it required longer conversations. And, and, and it requires a more, I wouldn’t say, like trusting, but, or direct more direct and, and be able to have people solve problems, given that broader framework on how to, on how to solve it. And if they don’t feel that they have that they have that partner, what I see is in the long run, that relationship deteriorates and nobody gets what they, what they’re looking for. So it’s, it’s, it’s very important for, for people to find a partner or a team that they actually trust and they can, and they can have those conversations.

Pat Murphy:

Now I’ve heard you talk before about capability and the changing skills required in the production community. You know, for instance, we recently put some people inside, one of our clients and you know exactly who that is. What do you think of the different approaches clients might take? Is this different in industry, by industry, or is it client by client? How, how, what do you think of that?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

Actually, I think that that’s the most exciting part of our business right now. The fact that when you, when you were talking about like my first, not about the silver bullet, be able to go in from yes, executing television campaigns to actually be able to, to do production strategy and architect solutions for clients and, and everybody doing its own different thing. I do think that it goes by industries and it goes by clients, especially clients that have a very strong, very strong culture and this industry has, I don’t understand really why, but it it’s really been enjoyed this polarisation of, of terms, right? Like in house or external. And I think that it’s a, it’s having a healthier balance of all those, of all those things. It’s, – it’s clients do need to have some capabilities in, in how clients do need to have some healthy partner ecosystem. And clients need to have the ability of work externally with people, what, what clients do need, which is something that they haven’t had to have before is being able to have a solid operations and technology stack around, around production, right. In the same way. It’s almost, they need to look at advertising production and the same way that they, that they look at manufacturing, their own products.

Pat Murphy:

The range of skills that are required these days to make assets. I mean, where do you find the people who’ve got the capabilities? I mean, do you train them yourselves? Do you find people who have had traditional backgrounds and, and upskill, and what, how do you do it?

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

The framework is very common to all the, to all the platforms, right? Like what we do with an idea is figure out who are, who are the best people, procuring, procuring the cost, and it’s constantly looking alignment, right? Like, I, I find that production is, is a thing where it’s a very creative business that has a framework in the work where, you know, the more I grew in the business and started talk to business people, I realised that big part of my job was risk management and project management and things like, things like that, doesn’t change that doesn’t change depends on what we, what we’re doing. You can, you know, in integrated workflow, you can very clearly say how on the, on the operators or the artist side, there is big difference between celebration and print and digital and VE.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

But the important thing, especially for production is ensuring that we are managing and communicating risk, making sure that there is a creative level and constantly seek alignment of all parties to, to keep it within, to keep it within strategy. Right? That’s what we do on a PPM meeting. That’s what we do on a beta release. That’s what we do on all those things. Where do we find people? I think that people are coming from industries. Nobody, no that nobody ever got a job or nobody ever went to university thinking ‘I wanna be an advertising producer’. Right, Pat?

Pat Murphy:

It’s so true.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

I still need to meet <laugh>. I still need to meet the junior producer that says, yes, I went to university thinking I do wanna be an advertising producer. We all fell into, into this. I do believe now there is really interesting, really interesting people in, in the music business, just because how record labels are changing. And now artists are creating creative teams around them. It’s almost like every artist has its own mini creative agency, and they’re very much native on, on an omnichannel kind of world. I do believe that they’re really interesting people. In gaming. There’s very interesting people in, in publishing. There’s all these, all these other industries that are feeding us with, with people that, that bring different skills and at different points of views on that.

Pat Murphy:

Now we’re focusing on this podcast mainly around innovation. What’s the stuff that’s coming around the corner. That’s really exciting you for you,

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

Have you heard of all this thing called the metaverse?

Pat Murphy:

<Laugh> The metaverse. My kids are teaching me this stuff. <Laugh> No, definitely. But it’s you know, it is exciting, but also, you know, the fact that brands are starting to engage with that. My son was showing me with something the other day, there was a kind of a concert online actually within Roblox. So I was like, ‘oh wow, that’s fantastic’. But that is exciting. The whole ton of exciting stuff. And, and we, we’ve been doing a production in the last few weeks using unreal engine, trying to bundle the scripts up together. And you can really go from one location to another and control the whole lighting on the shoot. So, well. I think that’s really exciting for me,

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

But I think that the I’m very excited about the technology that we have our fingertips right now. And I’m old enough to come from, from a generation where technology was a limitation, right? When, when we, when we were working with things that things didn’t, you had a limitation on the things that you could, you could create. I think that the combination of, of course, the metaverse or, or virtual reality with, and real engine and, and virtual studios, it opens the door for, when we talk about like clients, brands talking about engaging or or experiences instead of campaigns, it gives the ability for brands to create their own experience and their own world .

Car Advertising. If you look at the storytelling or the production of, of advertising hasn’t changed that much in the last 20 years, but if you have the, it falls very easily into three, four categories and the car, I mean, you have Al style of photography, the ability for all, always having the, those, those brands to create their own imaginary world or their own world, whether it’s no limitations of real locations, and that can leave not yet on a television commercial, but people can interact with in a virtual world.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

I do think that that’s opening a whole new world of exciting things that that will be very relevant to, to the future, because it would be honourable for the brand, which I think is something that is always been very important is in a world that is data driven, where everybody has the same data, how to become different at the competition, and what is the, what makes you more appealing than anybody else? What makes you recognisable combination of that be able to, for the first time, own your own wealth and limitless be able to, to, to, to use it in any platform from of course, like metaverse or AR and social and TV. I think that’s sectionally very, very interesting.

Pat Murphy:

Now, finally with all of the other guests that we’ve had on this podcast, I’ve asked people what their favourite advertising campaign is of all time. Tell us what yours is,

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

I have very quirky taste for favourite, for favourite campaigns. And there are some campaigns that from a campaign point of view, I’m still a very I feel sometimes not subject about the golden era television advertising from the, from the, from the nineties. I’m a, I’m a big BBH fan. So mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I love the, I love that trail of commercials from the, in the nineties, from BBH, from the side, doing with people like Tarsem right, like gas station or swimming pool. It was a beautiful combination of storytelling, film, craftmanship music, music selection. It was just a masterclass on, on television, on television advertising. So of course there’s been things that have been more exciting, but if the growth I am, that’s my guilty. That’s my guilty pleasure.

Pat Murphy:

Well, you and I are both TV guys. So we’re always gonna revert back to our favourite TV ad. So I’m gonna pick one of those and put it onto our reel of favourites for the guests.

Look, Sergio, it’s been great talking to you today. We’ve only covered a small part of many interesting and involving topics around the world of production – about how technology is playing its part in the way that we produce stuff, the somewhat scandalous waste of assets. I heard you mention a figure of 80% in the mm-hmm <affirmative> piece that you wrote earlier in the year about attracting you and diverse talent into the industry. It’d be great to get you back again on another day on some of these things, but I want to just say thanks so much for being with us on the MCA Prodcast. And I look forward to talking to you again. Thanks so much.

Sergio Lopez Ferrero:

Pleasure for me too. Thank you very much, Pat.

Pat Murphy:

I wanna say a big thank you to Sergio Lopez-Ferrero for taking time to talk to me today. It’s been a real insight on how implementing the right production strategy ahead of time and through the right platform, strengthens your engagement with your specific audience.

To find out more about the MCA Prodcast please head to theprodcast.com where you’ll find details on all of my guests links to their favourite ads and full transcriptions of all the episodes.

If you’d like to feature on The Prodcast or have any comments, questions, or feedback, please email us at prodcast@murphycobb.com. I’m Pat Murphy, CEO of MCA – do come and connect with us on LinkedIn or Instagram of which all links are in the notes for this episode. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks again to my guest Sergio Lopez-Ferrero, my team at MCA, and to the production team at What Goes On Media. Thanks for listening. Catch you again next time.

 

Sergio's Favourite TV Ad