In March 2021, Media.Monks Singapore brought on board former dentsu chief creative officer, Joao Flores, as its ECD in SEA, Korea and Japan. Flores was tasked to support the organic growth of MediaMonks business across the Asia Pacific region by developing creative partnerships with clients to strengthen disruptive positioning.  Flores led a strong team of 40 and has been instrumental in helping the agency gain ground across Southeast Asia market.

When asked to share a little bit about his role, Flores said at Media.Monks his ultimate goal is to bring that positive impact on culture through the integration of technology, data and content, with creativity at the heart of everything we do.

“We are here to change our industry and win the decade. That’s the vision that drives every Monk,” he said. Read to find out more about his role.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Tell us a little bit about your role.

As a creative leader, my role is to be the creative partner in bringing creativity back to the boardroom. I do this with three ‘ simple ’ transformational pillars: Growth, Reputation, and Recognition.

  1. Growth: Scale new creative structures in the most meaningful way for our people and our clients.
  2. Reputation: Define a creative identity with the highest standards of excellence
  3. Recognition: Stand for human craft with a positive impact on culture

As regional ECD for APAC, my ultimate goal is to bring that positive impact on culture through the integration of technology, data and content, with creativity at the heart of everything we do.

We have eight more years to go. It has to be love for the work that drives us to win the decade.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How long have you been with the agency?

I have been with the agency for 16 months - we count it like we count the age of lovely newborn babies. It makes sense, we are young and continuously curious about the world around us, fascinated by the amazing talent and mindset shifts, embracing change and the possibilities of the world today.

Through this journey of ours in the region, creatively, 2021 was the year of ‘engineering’ as we built up our talent.

2022 is the year of ‘credibility’ because we are defining who we are, as we grow up as a business (and as people) and take steady steps deep into this amazing new era for creativity.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How did you stumble into this industry?

What a stumble that was. I grew up as a professional football player. Yes, as a young player, I spread magic and enthusiasm in football stadiums. Some facts about myself: I played for SL Benfica from the age of 13, with 32 caps for Portugal in all youth categories. European Champion U-16 in Austria. At 23, and already a big boy, I had an epiphany (yes epiphanies are real, I had one) and realised that more than a ball or a goal, it was ideas that made me vibrate and dream. Creativity was my passion - 18 years later and I still feel like I stumble every day. Creativity makes me keep going.

joao 1991

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What was your first impression of the advertising industry?

Boy meets girl. Entering Lowe Portugal back in 2005 for the first time is still the happiest day of my life. And I am a proud father of a 20-year-old amazing young woman. But it was love at first sight. The people, the thinking, the ideas, the ambition, the culture. The love for creativity. At that moment, my first impression was believing I could change the world with endless imagination.

I still do.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Creatively, what do you feel has been the biggest shift?

The biggest shift was in 2008, it was after the economic crisis and, at the exact same time, the rise of social and digital media. It was an (almost lethal) combination that gave the creative community in our industry a more executional role. It made us lose our place in the boardroom, and almost in any room.

It took us 10 years of empty metrics and impersonal spam with irrelevant impact, emphasised by a pandemic, to expose our need for technology and a virtual revolution to shift our minds. Think about it: technology needs intention and purpose to create something truly new, without creativity to make it human, technology is useless. Finally, creativity has gained its voice again and established itself as the decisive differentiator and ultimate multiplier.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What’s the most frustrating thing about being a creative?

Our adorable ego. It’s our best friend and our worst enemy. Harnessing its power is a constant daily challenge. It’s what makes us rise or fall.

Based on this human (creative) behaviour, we developed what we call “The Frustration Concept” as one of the pillars we use to manage our people. Not a coincidence. Simply recognising that we are at our best when we are at the edge of not being at our best, is key. Foundational. Our creative nature equals imposter syndrome forever. So the objective is to transform everyday frustrations into our biggest motivation. You gotta love our ego. He's as creative as any creative person can be.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Proudest moment in your career? 

Being a creative leader is never about you, it’s always about the ones you lead.

So the proudest moment of my career happens every day. It is simply being trusted to manage creatives from different backgrounds and ages, different cultures, religions, languages, personalities and perspectives. I lead a team of strong characters and incredible talent, who are spread across unique countries in this fast-growing region. I am proud as I am grateful. It’s the gift of a lifetime.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is one career mistake you won’t forget?

On my very first trip to Cannes as a hotshot young creative, I talked (wrongly) way too much about someone else's work with their clients next to them. I apologised later but I still regret it today. I learned a massive lesson that day: “It’s always pitching mode, it does not matter who you are, where you are, and how much rosé you just had.”

joao lion

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Mentor you look up to most?

I look up the most to every single creative I manage. Directly, I manage 16 CDs or ECDs now. Indirectly, the number is more than 150 creatives (it was 25 across the region a year ago, just think about that for a second). So, let’s just say I have more than 150 mentors inspiring me to be better every day.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your favourite piece of advertising?

The best are the ones we are doing now. And the favourite, the one we are doing next.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What do you dislike most in an ad?

I know it can be a cliché, but the worst is actually clichés. Oh, the irony.

Immediately after, my biggest dislike is being useless with no cultural relevance and no added value.

I cannot understand that someone just wasted hours of thinking, thousands of dollars and endless days to do something that will end up being spam. Dear me, what a waste of intellectual property.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your dream brand to work with?

Throughout my career, I have already realised my dreams by working with brands like Nike, Disney, Coca-Cola, Google, Emirates, Samsung, LG, Toyota, Ford, Nivea, Dove, Netflix, Singapore Airlines, Red Bull and Burger King. The list can go on and on. All were dreamy but you can also have nightmares with some clients.

I can now strongly say that my dream brands are the ones where creativity has a seat at the table as partners of record and where change agents are the decision-makers. Those brands are the ones changing the world for the better. I am lucky to be working with some of them right now.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you get inspired when you aren’t?

Ok, I have never had a creative blank in my life. I don’t think I ever will. Controversial, I know. But it's true. I always have my heart beating strongly, paying close attention to my intuition and my mind flying like a fierce dragon.

On top, I love a white canvas. The beginning is the most inspiring trigger we can have, and to prove my point, a white canvas is my wallpaper on all my devices. And I always start my day with a white beautiful empty piece of paper. Inspiring.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your ritual/superstition before a big pitch?

Eye of the Tiger playing in a loop on my inner mind, a confident cool smile in my voice, my best positive energy and making sure we are always being memorable.

Our Media.Monks partners and clients expect something different every day from us, beyond communication, expect the intersection of technology and creativity, and then more, expect imagination. And every single slide should make it worth it for the #NewEra of creativity.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What makes the difference between an average ad and mind-blowing creativity?

Creativity is the reason of all the reasons.

If anyone had any doubts, the last two years just proved the point, creativity was at the heart of the collective healing process of our mind and body. Millions have discovered what we creatives by profession have always known, creating new things every day brings us closer to our humanity.

What makes the difference today is meaningful brand experiences delivered through connected ecosystems that are based on the reality of the consumer journey. Where tech is the enabler and creativity is the differentiator because the most powerful force in the universe is not technology, it’s creativity.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What does your mom/family think you do?

Try to explain to a Portuguese family that you are leaving your quite successful young professional football career at 23 years old to become a creative. It’s more than a sport, it’s culture. So, yep, that was the first few years of my creative career. It was not fun at home. Although I have no doubt they love me unconditionally, let’s just say they didn’t quite get my love for creativity.

joao futebol

They think I have ideas. Well, they always knew. But in reality, the perception really changed 12 years ago, when I started my leadership journey. I became a young creative leader, managing people, defining brands and businesses, speaking in public, giving my contribution to our industry, and actually having an impact on culture with recognition and newsworthy ideas shared all over the world.

My job has become more about what I do for others and the positive impact I have on their lives and culture. I believe now that every mom can relate to that. Including mine.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: If you weren't a creative what would you be?

I already was something else once other than a creative, I was a professional football player.

Creativity is my nature, my most profound existence. There is no plan B. This is it. It’s a constant state of gratefulness and privilege for the chance of just being myself. Every. Day. Imagine that.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is your guilty pleasure that you’ve kept hidden from the industry?

Doing nothing. In a world as fast and noisy as the one we are living in, I mastered the art of emptying my mind and just doing nothing. As I am passionate and driven, I am proportionally incredibly calm and simple. It’s a meditation flow that I absolutely love. It gives me peace of mind and restarts my chaotic brain. Doing nothing for the love of creativity #trusttheprocess

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Creative Catch-Up: Wunderman Thompson's Mateusz Mroszczak


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