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Jessica Apellaniz

Interview

Michael Weinzettl chatted with Jessica Apellaniz, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy Latam, who also chose her 15 favorite works that make up our Digital section. Jessica is one of very few women in a creative leading role across Latam. An experienced jury member across the main award shows, including Cannes Lions and One Show. She was responsible for winning the first D&AD Pencil for Mexico and has won at Cannes every year since her young days as a creative director.

Jessica arrived at Ogilvy in 2017 and was named CCO for Latin America in 2020, a position that she leads from Mexico. She has been a member of Ogilvy’s Worldwide Creative Council, Women to Watch Mexico and one of the 100 Creative Leaders by Adweek Creative 100.

Her ability to craft tailor-made, multidisciplinary teams for each of her clients is one of her best assets. In fact, that is how she got her first VP position, managing global accounts such as AB-Inbev, American Express and BMW. More recently, at Ogilvy, Jess has done the same with Coca-Cola, BP, Mazda and Aeromexico (Latin America) with unrivaled success.

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Michael Weinzettl chatted with Jessica Apellaniz, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy Latam, who also chose her 15 favorite works that make up our Digital section. Jessica is one of very few women in a creative leading role across Latam. An experienced jury member across the main award shows, including Cannes Lions and One Show. She was responsible for winning the first D&AD Pencil for Mexico and has won at Cannes every year since her young days as a creative director.

Jessica arrived at Ogilvy in 2017 and was named CCO for Latin America in 2020, a position that she leads from Mexico. She has been a member of Ogilvy’s Worldwide Creative Council, Women to Watch Mexico and one of the 100 Creative Leaders by Adweek Creative 100.

Her ability to craft tailor-made, multidisciplinary teams for each of her clients is one of her best assets. In fact, that is how she got her first VP position, managing global accounts such as AB-Inbev, American Express and BMW. More recently, at Ogilvy, Jess has done the same with Coca-Cola, BP, Mazda and Aeromexico (Latin America) with unrivaled success.

Jessica started her career as a producer, which helped form her diligent way of working and keen eye for striking work. In fact, she once was a producer for MTV Latam, back in the day when music videos ruled the airwaves.

But all these achievements pale in comparison to her greatest feat of all: being the best mother she can be to Fabiana, her adorable 5-year-old daughter and her newborn baby Romina, while striving to find the elusive work-life balance so often tricky to nail in this dynamic world of creativity.
 
L[A] Hello Jessica, thanks first of all for selecting work for our Digital section of the magazine. When did you first get interested in advertising?
 
JA Advertising was not my first choice; I thought I would end up as a producer since I loved problem-solving; I’m a ‘make it happen’ type of person. 

Every time you think that one medium is overrated, new fantastic work comes out to destroy your theory. I thought print was dying, then Budweiser Tagwords came out to shut my mouth. You can say enough of TV manifestos, but every year there’s at least one that moves our hearts.

I would say that new buttons are added to our ‘control panel’ each year. When I started, we had very few buttons – TV, print, radio, OOH. You turn up a couple of them and sales went up – it was that easy. Today we have a thousand options, so pushing the right buttons is getting more complex: social media, adwords, CRM, DCO, podcast, lead generation… and more buttons will keep coming.

So, for me, the future is to learn how to use the control panel and what buttons are needed for each project.
 
L[A]Since you’re an expert in all things digital, can you explain to me what NFTs are? I keep coming across the term but never fully understand what is meant by it. Can you give examples, and have you been involved in them at all?


JAIn a few words: NFT is digital art, you can buy a piece of it, and the price varies depending on how many people want it and how much of it you want. It would be if people bought an original Banksy by pieces in the physical world. I have only been diving into NFTs for ideas’ sake. I’m not investing in them, but it looks interesting to be part of that world.
 
L[A]Are there any people in advertising that you consider to have been role models, or that you admire in particular?
 
JA I admire the way Piyush Pandey (Ogilvy Chairman of Global Creative) leads with calm and love. (Ogilvy Deputy Chief Creative Officer) Joe Sciarotta’s hunger and drive helps me keep myself on the right path. And Liz Taylor (Ogilvy Global Chief Creative Officer) helps me believe that I should be where I am and that I could be where she is.
 

L[A]What are your interests outside of the ad business?
 
JA I’m an architecture fan, it’s my other passion. I designed a restaurant in Oaxaca a few years ago, and now and then some of my friends’ homes. It’s just a hobby, but for every bad day in the advertising world, I find myself recharging, reading, or consuming anything related to the architect’s world.
 
L[A]How has Covid affected the ad industry in Mexico?
 
JA Even though Covid is a health crisis, in third world countries Covid feels more like an economic crisis. People were losing jobs, brands were trying to help but didn’t know how. I think very few brands were brave enough to say something, and I take my hat off to the ones that did.

It’s hard to find brave clients who don’t mind being in the spotlight, which worsened during the pandemic. No one wants to lose their job because of a campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s easier for the agency to be fearless than for our clients, we shall always acknowledge that. Probably that’s another reason why I think the Victoria 1.8 project will always have a special place in my heart.
 
L[A]Did you find it challenging to think of 15 outstanding digital campaigns?
 
JA I’ve told you I loved jury duty, and this was as satisfying as that. It was a challenge, but I loved it. I love to choose the stuff I was ‘judging’. I also think the great advertising publishers should give a more prominent voice and space to works beyond English-led campaigns.

It was hard to get great local work from other countries. For example, there was a brave campaign from Egypt that I saw at Dubai Lynx and I found it. It’s hard to do famous work from countries outside the English world.

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