This Well-Traveled Creative Duo Brings Worldly Advertising Wisdom to Their New Home in LA (& This Interview)
Interview by Mike O'Donnell / Editor
To sustain a creative career, and a fulfilling one at that, you have to be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone. For WNW Members Federico Munichor and Joaquin Lynch Garay, that process is both figurative and literal. The creative partners teamed up over a decade ago, and in that time have traveled from their roots in Buenos Aires to Shanghai on to New York and most recently to Los Angeles. In our interview below, Federico and Joaquin discuss why collaboration comes easy, which campaigns make them proudest, the ways in which each creative market is distinct, and how their creative approach is shaped by these stops on their creative journey. “When you pull from these four approaches it becomes a very interesting mix. Powerful big ideas with strong executions, done fast so you can enjoy your life. We hope someday we can master this formula.”
Talk about your creative backgrounds. Who are Joaco & Federico? How’d they get here?
We are Argentines, asado fans, and football lovers.
We met at DDB Buenos Aires after working separately in different agencies. Our first year together we won the Young Lions Film competition in Argentina. That recognition gave us the opportunity to travel and represent our country at the Cannes Lions Festival where we met amazing people from all over the world. Coming back from that trip, we got an offer from Ponce to work on global clients like Axe and Stella Artois.
But suddenly and out of nowhere, we received a beautiful email from Julián Hernandez (former ECD at Leo Burnett Shanghai). He wanted to hire us as CDs to lead the Coca-Cola account in China. We first thought it was spam, but double checked it and he was a real person.
So we moved to China and had a life-changing year. China opened the doors to NY, where we spent three years at Johannes Leonardo working for Trident, Adidas, Amazon, Sonnet, and NYCFC. After that we spent some time freelancing at agencies like MOTHER NY, BBDO NY, BBH, FRED & FARID, and ELEPHANT. But three months ago, we received a call from 72andSunny LA, an agency we always admired and loved. So we said goodbye to the L train and couldn’t be happier about this new challenge.
You two have been collaborating for more than a decade. What makes the partnership productive and rewarding?
Joaquin: It’s really easy to work with a friend. We can work fast because we have a similar point of view and criteria. But at the same time, we are really different. We like different things and we have different backgrounds, so that helps us bring completely different things to the table when we need to solve a brief.
Federico: I don’t know why, but in places like Argentina, Europe, South Africa and Australia, the Team (Copy + AD) culture is stronger than in the US. So for us, this 10-year partnership is kinda natural. It just makes everything so much easier when you work with a friend. It’s faster, funnier, and there’s no bullshit.
How would you describe your collective creative style? Do you recognize a signature style that links your projects?
If you look at our work, even though we’ve worked for very different brands, from gum to insurance companies, our approach is to find a different way of doing things.
We like to first think how other people would approach a brief and then think of something completely different. We love the WTF effect, but a WTF that’s always on strategy. Our way is to say what needs to be said but in the most unexpected and powerful way possible.
What do you see as the turning point in your creative development and career so far?
Joaquin: It was easily spending one year as Creative Directors for Coca-Cola in Shanghai. Nothing can beat that. It was an extremely fast school for life and advertising. My brain exploded at least 4 or 5 times. Different culture, different ways of working, it was incredible. And it opened a door to new opportunities that brought me where I am right now.
Federico: China was a life-changing experience. We grew 10 years in 1, and had fun for the next 50. But what really changed the way I approach a creative challenge was having the chance to spend a couple of years working closely under Jan & Leo (Johannes Leonardo’s Founders and CCOs).
Which projects are you proudest of?
It’s not everyday that you get the chance to work for an iconic brand like Adidas + Pharell Williams for the US Open.
So after a few weeks trying to solve the brief, we felt that we had a very powerful idea. We wanted to redefine tennis’ most famous phrase: “Quiet, please” and provoke New Yorkers, inviting them to speak up for what they believe in. It was tough for a German brand to make a statement like that in America, but we had brave clients and the campaign was a big success: it ended up winning 5 Clio Awards. The film was directed by Jared Knecht (m ss ng p eces), who might be one of the best young directors out there.
In this industry, it’s very rare that you get the chance to create a brand from scratch. This was the very first campaign for Sonnet, the first insurance company that believes in optimism. The strategy was amazing and we had the chance to work with directors Marc Forster (Tool), Gary Freedman (Biscuit), and Matt Lambert (Pretty Bird), the most optimistic guy in this planet: Mr. Micheal J. Fox, who became the voice of Sonnet, and completing our dream team: our unicorn client/friend John Rocco and star producer Andrew Tucci.
At Fred & Farid we had the chance to help launch a Google product. Tough challenge but an amazing experience with Farid, Laurent Leccia, Marc Gellman and the Google Team. We shot it with Ian Schwartz from Pretty Bird and cinematographer Adam Stone.
What would be your dream project or job, or is it already on your resume?
We want to write a movie. We have the synopsis already, so we are about 119 pages short.
You’ve taken your talents from Buenos Aires to Shanghai to New York and now to Los Angeles. Describe each creative hub in just a few words.
Buenos Aires: Creativity
New York: Business
Los Angeles: Smiles
Buenos Aires: 100% ideas.
Shanghai: Ideas’ fast food.
New York: Long-lasting ideas.
Los Angeles: Sunny Ideas.
How has all of that travel impacted your creative approach?
It helped and changed us a lot. It’s incredible how different each market is. Not only the people that consume the ideas but how each agency works. In Argentina, it is more about really clever executions that could solve one immediate problem. In China, it is about how to make them fast and always culturally relevant. In NY, it is more about big platform ideas that could last for 3 or more years.
We are still figuring out LA, but we think it’s like NY but with much better weather and a beach 5 minutes away from the office. So when you pull from these four approaches it becomes a very interesting mix. Powerful big ideas with strong executions, done fast so you can enjoy your life. We hope someday we can master this formula.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
From Advertising: Gerry Graff, Carlos Bayala, Glenn & John, Jan & Leo and Susan & Colleen.
From other industries: Charlie Kaufman, Tarantino, Slash, DrDisrespect, Francis Mallmann, and Marcelo Daniel Gallardo.
What scares you most about making creativity your career?
The expiration date.
One book, one album, one movie, one show. From each of you. Go.
Book: La final de Nuestras Vidas
Album: Use Your Illusion
Movie: The Lobster and Back to the Future
Show: The Leftovers (season 2 and 3).
Book: Sandman Slim Series by Richard Kadrey
Album: Rammstein - Live Aus Berlin
Show: Ballers / The Wire
Game: Call of Duty Black Ops 4 - Blackout
What do you do when Not Working?
Joaquin: I explore Los Angeles with my Husqvarna 701SM. Not the chainsaw, the motorcycle.
Federico: If I’m not working I’m eating asados with my family.
What’s something you’ve learned on your creative journey that other creatives should hear?
This industry gives you the chance to explore the world. Use it. Working in different countries not only changes your career, it changes your life.
Don’t wait to be called. Be proactive because no one knows you.
Who are some other WNW members whose work you admire and why?
Matt Edwards and Wes Phelan. They are among the most talented guys in this industry. Their work is always powerful and looks insane. Even though they can’t grill a steak properly, they are amazing human beings.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
We are working on a new campaign with the incredible Truth team at 72andSunny LA. Can’t talk much about it but it’s definitely one of the best brands we ever worked with.