Pablo Poncini: Partner, CEO & CCO, TBWA\​Buenos Aires

My NativeAdVice:


Pablo is partner, CEO & CCO of TBWA\Buenos Aires, and a member of the TBWA's worldwide creative board. He works for clients like adidas, Nissan, Campari, Cencosud, Banco Macro and others. Sometimes locally, sometimes being part of international projects. Under his leadership, TBWA\Buenos Aires has won Golds at Cannes, Clio, Effie and many other advertising festivals.

How did you get into the industry?

When I was a child I used to draw comics, as a teenager I wrote short stories, at 19 I wrote for a newspaper and made an absurd radio show, so getting to work as a creative in an advertising agency was a completely logical and natural process.

Any emerging industry trends?

As the media and how people see the media changed a lot in recent years, and it keeps changing all the time, there is a tendency for agencies to pay close attention to technological issues. Basically because we are in an increasingly interactive world. My only concern with this subject is the risk that we lose focus, that we forget that the most important thing we have to offer are the ideas.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

In an increasingly sophisticated world, with an audience that is no longer sitting in front of the television but consuming ten different media at the same time, each one with its own language and its own logic, advertisers were forced to hire multiple providers for their communication issues. An agency for traditional advertising, another for its digital productions, another one of activations, the media agency, the specialist in social networks, the public relations agency... I think our opportunity is to re-impose the full service agency. But now "full service" means many more services than in the past. If we can create and produce magnificent TV commercials, manage in the smartest way the communication between the brands and their target in the social media and being the best to handle crisis management, all  at the same time, we will be able to give the agencies the privileged place they once had.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

When TBWA was founded in Paris, I was in a kindergarten in Buenos Aires. So I have no idea which was the idea that inspired it. But I can say what inspired me to be part of TBWA, rather than creating my own agency. It was Lee Clow and John Hunt, it was the Apple acount and all its campaigns created by TBWA, it was the famous Absolut vodka print ads, it was “Impossible is nothing” for adidas, it was the PlayStation campaigns, it was he European spirit in a network with headquarters in New York...

What's next for the Business in the near future?

To grow in the local market and to face more international challenges. We are on the creative business and you don’t need to be in the central markets to add value to to the network. We are helping other offices around Latam on the creative side and we expect to make a bigger contribution to the whole network in terms of creativity.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I took the best tools and practices that TBWA Worldwide provide us and mix all of that with the knowledge about our own country and market. When you live and work in sush a particular place as Argentina, you need to be very flexible and understand that everything (politics, economy, laws...) can change in a minute. I never wait to know how things are arranged and, at certain times, I pretend that everything is fine to move forward and to develope projects that transcend the problem of each day. This way of thinking allowed me in 2013, during a huge political and economic crisis of the country (another one!), to develope the most important communication project of my professional history: “The 1.000 miles of Luca”. I had to get sponsors, I had to produce, I had to get the collaboration of a lot of people, and I never stopped to regret or think that it was not going to be possible. The result was a great impact on the people and the recognition of the global advertising community.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

A couple of years ago we lost our most important client. By income, by visibility and by creative opportunities. It was a very difficult time. What we did was to act quickly, to accommodate the agency to the new reality and to go out and look for new clients. In a short time we got two new accounts that didn’t replace the previous client but that helped a lot. The learning was that we didn’t depend on anyone in particular, that when you have a solid career means that you can start again (so to speak) over and over again.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

The ideal client is the one that don’t discuss with me about my expertise. My best clients are the ones that don’t try to tell me anything about ideas or esthetic. With this kind of clients we have long conversations about strategy and then they just trust on the agency about creativity.

How do you motivate others?

I have never in my life read a book on leadership or motivation. Neither one on paternity! I believe that you have to be honest and show yourself exactly as you are. If you are a person with whom others want to interact -humbly I think I am- and if you respect the others, the inspiration come alone. I also think it’s very useful that others see that you work with enthusiasm.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Work hard but also enjoy hard.