Fernanda Romano leaves Lowe New York

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Fernanda Romano, executive creative director at Lowe New York, is leaving the agency for Lowe Latina in Madrid. Brought on in 2005 from DM9DDB in Brazil after winning seven Cyber Lions at Cannes, Romano arrived at Lowe along with duo John Hobbs and Peter Rosch, who departed the agency last year to pursue directing opportunities. Romano will be moving to Madrid to work for the new shop, also known as Lola, launched by the Lowe's Fernando Vega Olmos last October.

Romano took time out from Lowe's Worldwide Interactive Immersion event to talk to us about her plans.

So tell us more about LoLa.

It's great. I think what Fernando saw as an opportunity was that the world has incredible collectives of, nationals is the wrong way to put it, but similar thinking, in the likes of BBH, where you see a British way of thinking, the heritage, the way that BBH structured it, aAnd their excellent strategic and creative thinking. Then you have the likes of Wieden+Kennedy, which is the same way, but American. What Fernando perceived is, why not do something of that in the Latin world? If you look at South America, Mexico, Spain or Portugal, there's so much interesting creative thinking coming from these places. Why not try and create a collective of Latin thinking and do something with it? That's LoLa. It's born within Lowe, it comes from people who were already at Lowe. I thought it was cool, it as interesting. I had a great time in New York, I love New York in terms of the city, the way it influenced my thinking and what it offered in stimuli. But also the opportunity at Lowe, to together the structure the way I believed in it, the freedom to do it and the support from Mark to do it, have a truly integrated creative team where if you walk in there today and ask who is the interactive guy nobody is going to answer your question. Are we doing interactive work? Yes, but nobody is going to say 'I am the interactive person.' That was something I really believed in, and Mark gave me the opportunity to implement it and I think we implemented it successfully. When Lola appeared as an opportunity, it's a new agency; it's a beginning, a startup within an interesting structure, because we're going to use the network to support us. I'm continuing to work with teams in New York. We just sold two big campaigns to Unilever and they continue to be my responsibility, and they're both New York campaigns. So even though I'm going to be in Madrid I'm going to be here all the time.

It must have been tough when Peter Rosch and John Hobbs left late last year.

It was difficult, I had a phase in the very beginning where it was adapting to having partners, I had been kind of lonely for a while, I had a fantastic, fantastic, absolutely team in Sao Paolo at DM9, but I didn't have a partner. I didn't have one person to go and chat with. When I arrived in New York I had two partners who were partners beforehand, who were partners and friends, so I had to break that ice and learn to work with them. Eventually they decided to shift their focus so I was left alone, and I was alone again. There's this big team here and I needed to figure it out. In the end, as I got more and more used to it I had a very interesting situation, because I had a partner in Mark and I had a partner in the group heads. Instead of trying to be an ECD I became a partner with Mark and another partner with the group heads. I learned so much from them, and I think they learned from me as well. They're not going to accept to not crack a brief by touching upon every channel—you'll see guys who've never done anything online do a lot of stuff online, and be really thrilled. I think we had a really good run together.

I heard part of the reason you left is because there were some shifts in the broadcast division and people you'd worked with and developed relationships with went away. Is that true?

No. That's not true. There have been some changes, but I think the changes have been for the good. We did lose people that we liked and that we respect professionally, and I know personally that I'll miss having them around, but if you look at it from the agency perspective some of the change is really to try and turn all the broadcast producers into integrated producers, and the interactive producers who came in into integrated producers as well. The interactive also need to produce TV and print, broadcast need to produce print and interactive and all of them need to work together. At the level of producer, which I think Lowe is trying to build, is the executive producer kind of structure, where the person is really responsible for the whole project, and they'll have these specialists, with, as a services unit within the agency, where yes, you still need art buyers and you still need people who are experienced, and know who they need to go to from who are the best photographers and directors. You need these specialists. And also people who understand the legal implications, so we need to have the specialists but more in their experience and what they know of what's coming up, what's the latest thing, who is this up-and-coming director who could be a really interesting fit for this campaign. You still need these people. But the producers should be executive producers, and I think that's the shift that Lowe is trying to make in New York, and that's why the changes have been happening. I think it makes total sense, because that's how the movie industry works. You have an executive producer, and they go and say Ok, what are we shooting? Oh, we're doing a sci-fi film, so they're going to tap into the industry and see exactly what they know and tap into the industry and see all the people they know and pull in the resources and find the best person in robot design, and the best person in set design for futuristic things, this guy who's doing research into what the architecture of the future is going to be—that's what we're trying to mimic at Lowe. The issue with big agencies and traditional legacy agencies is they have a hard time with these new media—you have to bear in mind, when we think new media most people think Internet—but for most of these big agencies design is a new media. When their clients wanted design they used to go to a design company. Packaging, they used to go to a logo, identity design company. Now the agencies are seeing themselves in a position where they can influence that if they want, but they need to be able to understand the new media. Point of purchase, and promotions, which used to be promotions agency territory, is something we want to do. So many things are new media in many senses, so the executive producer role is crucial.

So when do you start?

End of July. I think, is the start of my move. For the next six months I'll probably be spending a lot of time in new york still, for these two big Unilever campaigns where we're going to start production and that are my babies. I worked on them for six months, many nights and many weekends, so I really want to see them come to life.
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