Soon the next edition of the Masters of Design and Innovation 2016, will begin, and with them new creatives, new challenges and new opportunities. The course begins with changes typical of innovative programs that evolve year after year, as is the incorporation of Ugo Ceria, Head of Strategy of JWT, as new Program Leader of the Master of Communication Design Labs.
Ugo takes over from Ian Crocombe, with whom he worked closely in past courses in the continuous evolution of the master’s program as tutor. He has developed his professional career in numerous international advertising agencies like TBWA, Delvico and JWT, where he worked in a purely strategic planning position before becoming immersed in creative strategy. This multidisciplinary vision will give the Master of Communication Design Labs an advertising approach that is even closer to the labour market and will provide students with an outstanding profile when faced with it.
What has been your career path? Where do you come from and where are you going?
I am from Italy, where I was born and studied sociology, although when I was 22 I went to Paris to finish my studies and begin working. I found work in advertising without having thought about it before, like one of those opportunities that arise and take you by surprise, because I realised at once that this profession has many of the things I like and that I’m good at.
First in Paris, in TBWA, then in Spain, in Delvico and now in J. Walter Thompson, in Spain and elsewhere, my career has taken me from a position more centred on pure strategic planning, to a greater involvement in the management of the agency, its talent and creative strategy. In J. Walter Thompson, I have also been able to develop my international side, participating in the global strategic management of the Nestlé account.
It is difficult to know where one is going in such a changing environment, but it is clear that digital media, the RRSS and what is called Big Data have become very important and ultimately are the disciplines that give me most joy when getting fresh ideas and inspiration.
As a sociologist who has ended up as an expert in strategies and has more than 20 years of experience in the world of advertising, what do you think your open vision and your long career in this field will contribute to the Master of Communication Design Labs?
I believe my humble contribution will be curiosity, which drives everything we do. To transmit curiosity. I also care about having a very transdisciplinary program focused on ideas. It is work that we have started under the brilliant leadership of Ian Crocombe and that continues to evolve in this direction.
What is your perspective on today’s world of communication and advertising and its evolution?
It is difficult to have a single reading of what is happening, because many things are occurring and the paradigm is still changing: there isn’t a clear image of how everything will turn out. What are certain are the general trends, the overall pattern.
I would highlight two: first, the role of consumers has changed. They have more power and ability to find out about things (and to intervene) than ever before. Now, it is not enough to know them to convince them better, now we have to learn how to converse with them, involve them and have them really participate.
The second element is the consequence of the first: brands have to speak less and do more. Innovation has a strong part to play in our role as communication experts, from the innovation that complements the brand and its products (for example, the generation of content), to the innovation “core” of the product and its ability to reinvent itself.
I have not mentioned the famous digital transformation, because it is obviously behind the above two points, whose implications go even beyond what we call digital.
What do you want to achieve with the future students of the Master of Communication Design Labs?
In the short term, some final projects that will make them feel proud of what they have learned and achieved and also make them sure of their talent. In the long term, I would like to have helped them do what they really like, which is an essential part of the difficult business of being happy.
What advice would you give to the next generation of communication creatives to address the course?
The master is a train that only passes once. I recommend that they come with an open mind, a lot of enthusiasm, take advantage of this time in their training, interact a lot with their teachers and with the rest of their class, and also to have 25 hour days so that they will convert their Master of Communication Design Labs into the beginning of their professional future.