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Ad land’s Young Guns: Cornell Rocha, FCB Interface

Cornell Rocha, Senior Brand Services Manager – Client Servicing, FCB Interface, has been fascinated about brands for long. An account management person who thinks creative, Rocha is proud of his writing skills, even earning the moniker of ‘Closet Copywriter’ in FCB Interface. Rocha also believes that having a ‘Never Finished’ attitude is quite valuable in today’s advertising world. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Cornell Rocha in his own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
Building brands was always something that fascinated me, which is why I joined Network Advertising after my BMM (Bachelors of Mass Media) in 2008. Here, I got the opportunity to work on top national brands and honed my basic and operational skills. This love for brand building also pushed me to complete my MMM (Masters of Marketing Management). 

Having helped build brands on a national level, I always wanted to experience working on a global brand. I was eager to learn the nuances in terms of strategy, insights and developing communication for a much diverse brand and its audience. So, when the opportunity to work on a global account with global network FCB came along, I grabbed it with both hands. Looking back, it’s a decision that I’m glad I took. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
To begin with, I am an account management person who thinks creative, be it with creative thought starters on regular mundane jobs or by just stirring the creative melting pot with proactive ideas. 

Being a good writer is another skill I’m proud of. This not only helps me in writing briefs and presentations, but also helps in crafting apt replies to those mails that we often get as account management people. Most of the creative people at FCB Interface have nicknamed me as ‘Closet Copywriter’ and I take it as a compliment. 

Most importantly, having a ‘Never Finished’ attitude is quite valuable in today’s advertising world. It shows that you are a dependable and dedicated resource who will stop at nothing. 

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
The Nivea Creme campaign that we executed in 2015 was quite exceptional in terms of the strategy, idea and execution. 

The problem the brand faced was that while it was growing in market share, the brand equity scores were stagnant and didn’t move up. Research revealed that the reason behind this was that competitive brands scored better on ‘Niveaness’ parameters like ‘care’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘mild’, ‘feel good in my skin’, etc. So, care as a platform was not unique to Nivea, and other brands occupied it in some way or the other. 

The task, therefore, was to focus on building Nivea Creme values through advertising, thereby creating a distinct, meaningful space in the target’s mind (Indian mothers) in an emotionally engaging manner. 

The insight that we used was that Indian mothers are generally more apprehensive and afraid to let go of their children beyond their ‘radar’. While children being children, want to go out, play and explore life outside home. 

The strategy and role of the brand was to provide relief to the conflict/ tension (in the mother’s mind) and build a moment of love and togetherness between the mother and child. 

Behaviour change that the film facilitated was ‘letting go of the child’ – so that the child can explore – while the mother herself is reassured that she has imparted her loving touch. 

Watch the films:

The campaign worked well for the brand and also propelled the brand to become the No. 1 brand in the All Purpose Creams (APC) category.

While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
Finding a creative angle or a route that can steer creatives in a promising direction is the main challenge. The more you read and research about the product/ service and consumer, the more are the chances that you will stumble upon a good platform for the brand to be on. There can be no excuses for not being prepared in terms of knowing the background, the market scenario and facts about the product/ service. So, being equipped with all this ammunition is vital to develop any creative brief. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Growing up, Karl Gomes was someone who I looked up to. He stays a few blocks away from my home, so his was a story I could see with my own eyes and he is a superstar who I always had access to. I continue to approach him when I need advice in advertising. 

Having just returned from Cannes 2017, the person who influenced me the most was the multi-award winning David Droga (who was also the recipient of the Lion of St. Mark award at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity). His achievements in advertising at such a young age and his speech after receiving the award was truly inspirational. 

Our global CCO, Susan Credle, and her journey in advertising is extremely inspiring. Having met her in person at Cannes this year and spoken to her in depth, I can certainly say that she’s a woman who’s down to earth and at the same time fearless and ‘Never Finished’ too. 

All these are people who believe that great creative is something that helps build meaningful brands for the long-term. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

  1. I begin my day with a 4-5 km run so that my body is pumped up for the rest of the day.
  2.  Read a chapter from the Bible while travelling to work, it just calms the mind.
  3. As soon as I reach office, I spend 20-30 minutes reading up on advertising industry websites.
  4. Ensure that I have an interesting lunch so that there’s something to look forward to. This also means that I share lunch boxes with colleagues so that there’s variety and an opportunity to interact.
  5. Laugh hard as many times as I can in a day. I believe that if you can’t laugh hard at least once a day, you’re in the wrong place.

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Yes, I had my doubts on a long-term career in advertising, but Cannes this year has changed that perspective. Having seen advertising legends as well as those in the making first hand, I believe a career in creativity is something that will always be fulfilling, valued and respected. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?

  1. As I mentioned earlier, a ‘Never Finished’ attitude towards work is of prime importance.
  2. The ability to see the right opportunities and grab them with both hands is vital to keep growing in the industry.
  3. Always have a curious mind. Keep asking questions, however dumb they might be.
  4. Have a pulse on the market and the consumer. Spending time outside office and in the market place regularly is important.
  5. Being humble always helps.

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?

  1. Don’t be afraid to try, you’ll never know if you don’t try
  2. It may appear glamorous from the outside, but the first few years will be tough. However, perseverance, dedication and the right attitude will help you sail through.
  3. Read and keep yourself equipped with knowledge. It’s your most lethal weapon.
  4. Set targets for your career and keep reviewing them.
  5. Save wisely and don’t blow it up every Friday night!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
CEO of an agency/ organisation. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
I have an inclination towards being eco-friendly, so I would love to work with an organisation that develops actionable campaigns that help make our planet and environment a better and greener place to live.


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