Andres Vergara, International Executive Creative Director at McCann World Group, Bucharest.
His career developed in various award-winning agencies around the world, including: BBDO Dubai, TONIC Dubai, Publicis Stockholm, SCPF Barcelona, Ruiz Nicoli Madrid, DDB& Co Istanbul and Leo Burnett Chicago. He has worked as an Art Director, Creative Director, and Strategist. He has worked with numerous clients, including: KRAFT, Coca Cola, Nawras Telecom, Audi, CNN, SONY, Finansbank, Koenigsegg, Dank furniture, & amp; Multi Turk Mall. In 2013 Andres Vergara moved to Bucharest as International Executive Creative Director at McCann Bucharest, working on clients like Bite Latvia and Lithuania, Julius Meinl, Mastercard and Beko. He also has an MBA in Creative Leadership and a Master of Master of Business Administration, obtained at Berlin School of Creative Leadership.
By Romanita Oprea
When did you first receive the proposal to come to Romania and what was your initial reaction?
I was finishing my EMBA in Berlin in 2013 when I was asked to join McCann Bucharest to spearhead their international division.It was a great challenge and I was excited to come to Bucharest to start this new journey.
What did you know about our country at the time of your arrival?
I have been visiting Romania since 2001 and I had explored many nice places around the country but I had never worked or lived here before.
How has your perception of Romania changed?
By living here, I have been able to pass from being anobserver and get to know the Romanians’ soul and mindset. I am here with my family so I am also living through their experiences. Like in any other relationship, there are ups and downs throughout the years,but I can say we truly feel part of Romania now.
What would you say are the main differences between the Romanian advertising scene and the Russian one?
First of all, I was previously working in BBDO Moscow, the biggest Russian agency in that market, coming to McCann Bucharest was a drastic change for me. It became a much more hands-on job for me, but it was exactly what I needed as I had grown apart from the actual daily creative work in my previous job, with a 650 hundred person organization, I was too involved on the management side and too little in the actual ideas part, which is what I truly love and was missing.
Secondly, Romanian creativity is a natural thing and I see it expressed in many layers of society, from daily things adapted and reinvented to the great heritage of inventors, writers and composers. I believe people in Romania are creative by need also because of the past lack of infrastructure or official support, and then the result is something completely out of the box.
“Culture eats strategy”
How did your multi-cultural experience in advertising change the McCann Bucharest creative department?
I’ve lived in 12 countries up until now and I have a huge amount of cultural baggage to share with my team. As the true globalist that I’ve become, I believe I’ve left a small piece of my global-footprint in the organization by now.
What would you say is your “signature” in advertising?
I’m a “culture junky” after all these years living & travelling, I really love to discover the cultural insights and truth’s that every nation and its people carries and for me it’s very important to include that in my own work. “Culture eats strategy” for breakfast is my motto. If your work has little cultural relevance you become exactly that. Non-relevant.
What does Romania and your life here now represent for you?
It’s been a solidifying period in my life, not only from a career point of view, but also from a family one. My kids have created their own space and social life and everyone is very happy with what they’ve accomplished on their own. I would recommend to any expat with a family considering coming here to bringtheir family with them. All the expats that I know here, their kids are really integrated and happy.
What are your main passions and how are you building them?
Ironically, it’s travelling, and I do that a lot in the job. I think I must have clocked close to 350 flights since I came to Romania. Mainly in Europe.Too much, some would say, but it comes with the territory. I use every opportunity I have to discover something new about the place where I go. I love architecture, food and wine, so it’s not a hard topic to keep when travelling, besides the waistline, hahaha!
What type of going out in Bucharest do you prefer and why? (cinema, theater, etc.)
I love the social side of this town and it’s best enjoyed with friends. There is something new almost every week. I try to avoid the clubs as they quickly become repetitive in their approach, but I’m the first to come if you have a new cool place to recommend. Then again, I have high standards, so it better deliver or you’ll hear it from me!
What literature do you prefer?
I don’t have a specific type honestly- I love to jump between genres and to read as many books as possible at the same time, if you saw my reading list now (currently 4) you would think the person is schizophrenic. I’m currently reading: “The Misfit Economy” by Alexa Clay, “The Mysterious Island” by Jules Verne, “Roaming: Living and working abroad” by CM Patha and “You are not smart” by David McRaney.
What professional book you read lately and impress you? Why?
More than a book, I would recommend a genius app. Blinkist. Through a yearly subscription you can speed read hundreds of books, each in just 15 minutes, if any title is really interesting, you can buy it there directly. I think I’ve gone through 150 books since I got the app in the beginning of the year. Much better spent time than endless hovering on Facebook or Instagram really!
What restaurants do you prefer?
That’s a tricky question because like I said, I’m really picky about food and wine. If I had to recommend you something that I call as “sure thing” I would tell you to have your cocktails at Salon Golescu, eat Italian at Animaleto or Grano, Japanese at Yuki, brunch at Simbio, fish at Amada and special Romanian cuisine at Casa Terra in Fagaras which issometimes hosted by Espace Minoux in Bucharest.
How do you find Romanian food?
One thing to tell. If you don’t travel in the regions you’re not trying true Romanian flavours –and the forgotten ways of preparing food. It’s a European gem. You must travel to have the true tastes. I recommend you read a “ Dor de ROST ” by Razvan Voiculescu who blends film and food with photography and unique stories of incredible people around Romania.
How would you characterize your life outside of work?
Involuntarily,I divide my time between socializing with my colleagues in the industry and my family. Free time is short and I have little chance to meet more new people, I wish I did though. This would give me a better chance to learn new things and make new interesting friends.
What are the places you would like to travel to more and why?
In Romania I would love to see more of Bucovina this year and more of Italy and France as well. Actually, anything Mediterranean. I’m jealous on how they can truly enjoy life and keep health and joy present in their livesand there is so much to discover in these places anyway.
What pieces of advice would you give to an expat who has recently arrived in Romania?
Don’t stick to your bubble. It’squite possible that the combination of your work andrelocation it might feel overwhelming in the beginning. Skip that, ditch it and go out as much as possible, you will find interesting places and people. There are great organizations like Bucharest with Kids, IWA and great Facebook groups -you just have to socialize more, get out there.
What are your next goals in your professional life? What about the personal one?
My next goal is to just keep growing in my field and to have more fun while doing so, I know it’s easy to say but it is really what makes the difference – to have more fun doing what you love doing. On a personal level, I’m curious about what’s around the corner, because you never know what you might find.
He also has an MBA in Creative Leadership and a Master of Master of Business Administration, obtained at Berlin School of Creative Leadership.