Ad Age is marking Hispanic Heritage Month 2023 with our Honoring Creative Excellence package, in which members of the Hispanic community revisit some of their favorite creative projects. (Read the introduction here.) Today, guest editor Alejandro Clabiorne turns the spotlight to José Suaste, chief creative officer at Fluent360, who writes about working on the “First Steps” campaign for the U.S. Army.
When I was in my early 20s, I started my career in advertising, but I also started a band. I thought advertising could pay the bills while I chased a dream of selling records and touring the world. But a funny thing happened on the way to not making it big in the music business. I learned that no matter how hard I tried to stay on trend or make songs that mass audiences could dance to, it was the stuff I wrote from the heart with honesty and passion that impacted people the most, not the “cool” stuff.
So, when I decided to go all in on advertising, I knew that if my work was going to resonate with people, I had to make sharing from the heart and telling real stories my mission.
That’s why I’m still here 24 years later—to tell stories that share diverse perspectives and connect through the beauty of our culture. The latest campaign my team at Fluent360 worked on for the U.S. Army, titled “First Steps,” does just that. This work takes an intimate and authentic look at soldiers taking their first steps into being all they can be. Sounds like a company-man line, but this campaign is important because it shows what America’s army actually looks like. It features representatives from all corners of the country, from all backgrounds. Seeing that diversity and inclusivity leads to the belief that anyone can belong, that anyone can succeed.