Jorge Luis De Barba heads up strategic planning at Havas Vale México. His full-time job is understanding people on a deeper level. Because of Mexico’s diversified culture made up of layers of diversity, he says consumers are searching for real insightful concepts that enhance and empower their uniqueness. The question: How do you accomplish this? Jorge gives us insight on reaching consumers both in Mexico and across the globe.
Tell us about yourself.
Hello, I’m Georgie. (Laughs)
Well, my full name is Jorge Luis De Barba, but as you may have noticed, my name sounds like the name of someone in a Mexican Telenovela. So, I prefer Georgie.
I’ve been head of strategic planning at Havas Vale México since January.
Advertising for me has been the most beautiful way of finding myself and learning to love myself as I am. As a child, I always felt like an outsider. When I was 18, I was introduced to the advertising world. And finally, I found my place in the world, a place that appreciates differences and uniqueness.
Since then I’ve been totally in love with strategy; working with big global and local brands such as Chrysler, Exxon, Grupo Carso, Hershey´s, H&M, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Mastercard, the government of México City, GoPro, El Palacio de Hierro, Sony Pictures, Virgin, and many others.
What’s the most interesting thing about working at Havas?
One word: diversity.
Diversity empowers uniqueness. Uniqueness enables us to create wonderful things. There are thousands of ways to understand but still live united in the world. It’s really amazing when you think about it.
How important is it to set common goals for your team?
When I hear about “common goals,” I immediately tend to think of boring business common goals that are seemingly unrelated to me. It’s not inspiring. Business common goals come off as cold, unpassionate, and totally unrelatable to anyone.
My challenge is to find the balance between business and personal life goals for everybody on my team, and then inspire them to support everyone’s goals to achieve success. Making real common goals is the challenge.
How would you explain strategic planning to a child?
So, imagine this: You desperately want a chocolate bar. You ask your mommy for it. And she says no naturally. But you still want it, right? How can you get it? Think about it for 30 seconds.
I’m sure you can think of a lot of ways of getting your treat—throwing a tantrum, yelling, asking for it nicely, saying please, or even stealing it. Think about your mommy: How can you convince her? Which is the best way to convince your mother? You can decide the best way to convince mom because you know her.
That´s what I do for a living: Understand people very deeply in order to give them exactly what they want.
To an adult?
Think the last time you got to solve something very complex. Our life is full of problems and variables. My work is to see all those things as opportunities and to make the right choices to achieve success. Strategy is about watching the whole picture, then exploring and exploiting the potential.
Is marketing in Latin America different than other markets? What about Mexico, specifically?
Mexico is a very unique country in itself, filled with magic, diversity and so many layers. Therein lies one of the biggest challenges from a marketer’s perspective.
We are living in a new era, a new Mexico full of hope and strength. Mexicans are tired of overpromising, exaggerations, or just lies. They are looking for real, insightful concepts that enhance and empower their uniqueness.
This is very challenging but still magical.
How are they similar to other markets?
Consumer issues are the same in all markets. All consumers seek to feel safe, to have the certainty that everything will be fine. Their values are based on well-being, goodness, and love. What changes are the forms, the symbols, and the concepts in every region. Today, we see globalized consumers with a strong omnichannel tendency. We are the same, but different.
What do you hope to see someday in the advertising industry that you don’t see now?
I dream of an advertising industry based on justice, transparency, and ethics.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the strength and soul of my people. My country is complex, and it’s very inspiring how people can get together, believe in each other, and make big things. #FuerzaMexico.
How do you inspire others?
I try to stay loyal to myself. Empower uniqueness and diversity. Embrace democratic choices, and help everyone that I can.
What’s the best advice that you have for someone who is just starting a career, say people in their 20s or 30s?
I’m only 32. But I’ve got three pieces of advice:
The power of no. Saying no, it’s OK. The way to success is not always a long journey, it’s a journey of balance. Saying no, it’s realistic and mature. It’s better to give an honest no than a fake yes. Say no when you have to say it—whether to a boss, a client, or a partner.
Nothing is that important: We were taught that any situation in advertising can be chaotic and that things are resolved with more chaos. No anguish will make a problem disappear. Relax, breathe, and learn. I promise that no difficulty is too big. Everything will take its course.
Finally, believe in yourself. People might think that you are a freak, or that you are too eccentric, too bossy, too colorful, too smart, too analytical, too whatever. Being you is incredible. Being you is the only thing that will lead you to massive success.