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Moses Banuelos, Art Director, The Miller Group
Thursday, November 14, 2002, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. MT

<moderator> Welcome Trina
<moderator> Moses is here and ready when you are.
<mosesb> Hello Boise
<tsego> Hello Moses & AEF. We have about 35 eager students watching in.
<mosesb> great
<mosesb> my brain is here to pick.
<tsego> Can you tell us something about Miller Group? How many people work there and what are their backgrounds?
<mosesb> we are a small agency, 6 people working
<mosesb> we have a full time copywriter, full time art director (me)
<mosesb> some account people and Renee Miller, our creative director and president
<mosesb> the account people come from a marketing/business background
<tsego> How is working at a small agency different from working at a large one?
<mosesb> I've worked in a large agency before....about 200 people
<mosesb> there are benefits in both, but the biggest I think in a small one is that you get to do a lot more and learn more quickly about the industry
<mosesb> you get your hands on everything in a small agency
<tsego> Do you consider yourselves a "creative boutique"?
<mosesb> definitely
<mosesb> we sell our creative thinking
<mosesb> and partner with other companies to fulfill them
<tsego> What are the challenges of being with a small agency?
<mosesb> The biggest challenge for me would be the different hats I need to wear
<mosesb> besides coming up with the creative thinking and layout,
<mosesb> I need to coordinate projects with the printers, photographers, etc.
<mosesb> in bigger agencies, there are people that do those day to day operations.
<tsego> We had the pleasure of viewing your print & t.v. ads during our last class. Tell us more about the production. Who did what? How long did it take?
<mosesb> we did the TV spots in a month....from thinking up the ideas, to actually filming it.
<mosesb> myself along with another art director and a copywriter took the creative brief, came up with different ideas, and presented them to the client.
<mosesb> Renee, our creative director, made sure that we stayed on strategy
<mosesb> once the client approved the concept, rick rosenberg, my copywriter, wrote the script and also directed the spots.
<mosesb> we hired a freelance producer to gather the talent and hire a production crew
<mosesb> once the spots were shot.....all in one day....he had a post production house edit them for us and got them ready for stations.
<tsego> You have a degree in graphic arts, yes? Do you think that is a good way to prepare for a career as an art director?
<mosesb> for an art director you need to have some sort of art degree
<mosesb> whether its graphic design, applied art, or fine art
<mosesb> my degree is in graphic design
<tsego> Can you tell us about how you negotiate strategy with the client? How many ideas did you present before you hit upon a winner?
<mosesb> we take research from either a research company or from existing data
<mosesb> we then formulate a plan with a strategist to see what is the one thing that sets our client apart
<mosesb> we also talk to the client to see what their goals are.
<mosesb> we then present that to the client and see if they approve or disapprove.....most of the time, we are on.
<mosesb> at the most we'll go back maybe once for the strategy.
<mosesb> ideas are another story though
<tsego> So are most of your projects backed by research? Do you do many focus groups?
<mosesb> we present to the client probably around 6-7 ideas
<mosesb> the creative strategy is backed by research
<mosesb> our bigger clients conduct focus groups and occasionally we will adjust our creative.
<tsego> Why did you choose to work in the advertising industry? Why not use your art background somewhere else?
<mosesb> because the advertising industry is always changing
<mosesb> I get to use my creativity at another level....I am not only worried about making it look good, but also thinking of creative ways to
<mosesb> give a product a benefit, to make it stand out.
<mosesb> advertising is never boring.
<tsego> Your website suggests that your agency specializes in great ideas rather than big budgets. Some are wondering what is a typical budget? What is a really small budget? Smallest?
<mosesb> in our agency, there are no typical budgets.
<mosesb> we have some pretty high/big budgets, some are small
<tsego> How is the economy affecting the industry?
<mosesb> severely
<mosesb> we would normally have a lot more projects going on
<tsego> How do you think the session is going? Do you have any questions for us?
<mosesb> I think it's going great
<mosesb> what direction do your students want to take in advertising?
<mosesb> creative or business end?
<tsego> Since we're marketing students, we're wondering about the "severely" comment. Are people getting laid off? Are career ops slim?
<mosesb> currently career ops are very slim
<mosesb> that wasn't the case 3 years ago.
<mosesb> some of the bigger agencies had severe lay offs, but some are hiring again
<mosesb> our agency has stayed the same.
<tsego> Creative or business...it's a mix. Mostly business. Acct mgmt. 1 Health promotion. Couple for research or acct planning.
<tsego> Any advice for folks wanting to get a foot in the door?
<mosesb> get it in the door anyway you can.
<mosesb> I got in as an intern in the creative department, then did another internship in the account management dept.
<tsego> You majored in graphic design? Did you minor in another subject?
<mosesb> nope, just graphic design
<mosesb> but I was aggressive.
<mosesb> to be successful in advertising, you must be aggressive, type A personalities
<mosesb> that is what is going to get your foot in the door.
<mosesb> you need to be passionate about what you are doing
<tsego> What is your favorite ad of all time?
<mosesb> my favorite ad of all time?
<mosesb> that I have done, or that someone else has done?
<tsego> Both
<mosesb> I did an ad for our candy client that was a ransom note using the wrappers and cut out letters
<mosesb> I just like the way it looked and I had a good time cutting up the letters out of magazines
<mosesb> I really like the stuff that Nike does.
<mosesb> also some of the international spots that IKEA does.
<tsego> Why do you like those ads?
<mosesb> there is a lot of GREAT creative that happens in Europe....it's a shame that we can't get away with as much.
<mosesb> mostly since they are strong both creatively and in getting the sales message across. The Nike spot that ran last year of the guy running
<mosesb> while the world around him was going crazy is my favorite
<tsego> We viewed some European ads (Clios). We like the Nike ad that featured soccer players from around the world. Can you tell us more about how the European aesthetic differs from U.S.?
<mosesb> Europe is more open to off the wall humor
<mosesb> not as much is taboo over there.
<tsego> Cultural taboo or legal?
<mosesb> cultural
<mosesb> legally they are bound by the same lawsuits and such that we are here.
<tsego> Have you faced ethical challenges in your job?
<mosesb> not yet
<mosesb> the agencies I've worked at have always had clients that I agreed with.
<mosesb> there are things though that I wouldn't help in advertising
<tsego> Can you tell us about the creative process? Where do you get them? Do you have a special technique that helps you generate ideas?
<mosesb> the creative process starts with, as you know, the creative brief.
<mosesb> I sit down with my copywriter and we just talk all day
<mosesb> we try to think of uncommon ways to present something that's common, or draw upon our personal experiences and see how they can apply
<mosesb> the "sports" campaign is a good example
<mosesb> the print campaign I'm currently working on.
<mosesb> I'm a HUGE sports fan, so figured I'd try to work that in.
<tsego> How about the 2003 Legacy ads? What is the concept behind those? What work are you doing on them now? Sports metaphor?
<mosesb> that merged from the creative brief
<mosesb> they wanted to show 3 things....
<mosesb> customer service, quality, and their manufacturing capabilities
<mosesb> we thought of that "commitment to excellence" sports idea and applied it to the ads
<mosesb> and picked sports and sports situations that would fit it best.
<tsego> Since you're a creative boutique, who makes decisions about media? Does the client have that predetermined? Who does the media plan?
<mosesb> we hire a media buying service to come up with a media plan.
<tsego> Sounds like a lot of relationships with outside companies. Is that a challenge?
<mosesb> not really.
<mosesb> big agencies do the same thing
<mosesb> the only thing that we do not have in-house is the media and research
<mosesb> we have relationships with companies we work with all the time.
<tsego> Tell us more about full-service vs. boutique biz. Do you think you lose something in that you can't offer the media side?
<mosesb> I don't think so since the client gets the same ideas for media.
<mosesb> the only difference is that they aren't down the hall.
<tsego> How do you prepare for a pitch? How much work do you do on spec? How do you mentally prepare for presentation? Any stage fright ever?
<mosesb> I try to find out as much about a company as possible. An example is that currently we are in the process of pitching a sports club
<mosesb> so of course I'm going to go workout at one this weekend.
<mosesb> most of our pitches involve spec work....mostly because of the economy
<mosesb> because you want to show the client your thinking and creative
<mosesb> stage fright?
<mosesb> not anymore, I got over that quick
<mosesb> otherwise I wouldn't be working
<mosesb> and this coming from a huge introvert growing up
<mosesb> mentally I know the creative is good, and I sell it
<mosesb> I try to convey the passion I have in creating it
<mosesb> it's all dependent on the client though
<mosesb> some are more conservative than others, so part of being good in advertising is reading people
<tsego> Do clients sometimes come to you with strong ideas about strategy? How do you suggest changes to their ideas?
<mosesb> oh yeah, all clients are different....some I can just mention that it's wrong and they take my word for it.
<mosesb> others are very headstrong and you try to sway them
<tsego> Had any experience with conflicting accounts? How are those handled?
<mosesb> we have in the past. we tell the client what clients we already have.
<tsego> Where do you find new business? New prospective clients?
<mosesb> we have someone in the office that does new business.
<mosesb> she researches companies and sees what they are doing with their marketing
<mosesb> talks to them, tries to set up a meeting to meet and we take things from there.
<tsego> What is the culture at your job? Do you wear a suit everyday? Or what?
<mosesb> I'm wearing tennis shoes, jeans and thermal
<mosesb> but the account people have slacks, dress shirts and nice office clothes.
<mosesb> as a creative, I have that luxury
<mosesb> and of course when I meet the clients, I dress up some, but see what the client is like.
<tsego> Has your website helped you win new business?
<mosesb> sometimes.
<tsego> Ever won a big account away from a goliath agency?
<tsego> Sometimes? Any details?
<mosesb> we get some calls from people that see the site, but most are from us contacting them or the clients being referred from other people
<mosesb> we had Kenwood Home auto for a while...we won that from a big agency here in LA.
<mosesb> the loved the creative and how we worked.
<tsego> What are your future professional plans? What's in store for you and Miller Group?
<mosesb> eventually I would like be the creative director of some big agency...I say within 15 years
<tsego> Back to agency culture....Do you work 9-5?
<mosesb> I work from 9-6 on a good day
<tsego> Weekends?
<mosesb> yes
<mosesb> after-hours as well
<tsego> Thanks so much for your time. We enjoyed chatting with you. Thanks to the AEF for hosting this!
<tsego> We are inspired.
<mosesb> thank you
<moderator> Thanks for a great discussion!
<tsego> Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
<sharon> Hi Trina and Moses. I think this session went really well. I'll be in touch with you soon.
<mosesb> thank you Boise
<mosesb> and to the AEF staff
<moderator> our pleasure
<moderator> A transcript of this discussion will be posted to aef.com soon.

 

 

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