2 Minutes With ... Bharat Kumar and Marcelo Ramirez, ECDs at Havas N.Y.
Bharat Kumar and Marcelo Ramirez are executive creative directors at Havas N.Y., where they oversee New York Presbyterian. In addition, they’re the co-leads of Charlie, an internal mentorship program comprised of junior to mid-level creatives. With about 30 combined years in the industry, Bharat and Marcelo have worked on everything from automotive to CPG to fashion and financial services. Prior to joining Havas, the pair held posts at Johannes Leonardo, Momentum Worldwide, Deutsch and BBH N.Y., among others.
We spent two minutes with Bharat and Marcelo to learn more about their backgrounds, creative inspirations and recent work they've admired.
Bharat and Marcelo, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Marcelo: I grew up in Asunción, Paraguay and Miami, FL. I currently live in Miami.
- Bharat: I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida (Go Jaguars!) and now live in Brooklyn, NY.
How you first realized you were creative.
- Marcelo: When I was very young my mother bought a camcorder and I used to take it and film skits and faux commercials (which I got from watching old SNL reruns). I soon had all the neighborhood kids as actors and crew.
- Bharat: I don’t know if I’d say, “realized,” but I wrote my first TV script when I was about 7 years old. My dad shared it with his marketing colleagues and they were kind enough to compliment my "creativity." I also came in second for a coloring contest, which is the closest I’ll ever come to being an art director.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
- Marcelo: Early on. As soon as I was able to sneak off and watch movies on my own as a kid, I became fascinated with Spaghetti Westerns. Back then, I had no idea what made these films so different, or why these "older films" mesmerized me, or who Sergio Leone even was, but I watched his movies over and over for years.
- Bharat: My mom. She’s a creative dynamo–singing, writing, storytelling, acting/imitating, arts and crafts, humor, cooking; you name it. Whatever the canvas, she’s open to experimenting and then practicing and crafting. That always stood out while I was growing up, and I’m still in awe of her.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
- Marcelo: I studied criminology and psychology in college. One day, a commercial played that truly moved me to the point where I said out loud, “f*ck … how do I do that for a living???” My roommate was sitting next to me and explained that there are advertising agencies that handle work for brands. This blew my mind because it unearthed an entire industry for me. I changed my major the next day.
- Bharat: My dad worked for Johnson & Johnson and the family was transferred to Tokyo, Japan. He carved out and seized an opportunity that was both personally and professionally rewarding for him. That’s stuck with me; and while he’s a science guy, he and I relate a lot on the creativity of problem-solving—something this move only magnified. I try to model my career and myself after him, as much as possible (within reason). Anyway, I finished my last two years of high school there; to move and really be "in" the culture of a place was eye-opening. I went to an all-boys, international school, where I met people from everywhere–from countries I’d never even heard of. It was a culture shock in a good way, and, in a very clićhe way, it opened me to different perspectives immediately.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
- Marcelo: RZA.
- Bharat: I’m into comic books and graphic novels, so I’d probably go with Todd McFarlane and Frank Miller.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
- Marcelo: For a podcast, SmartLess with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett. A friend recommended it at the start of the pandemic and I must admit that it made times a little easier (as much as a podcast could). Hearing how these three interacted every week reminded me of my close friends and how much they mean to me. Plus, the guests are pretty stellar.
- Bharat: Maybe not "recently," but self-professed ad nerd, so book-wise….Hegarty on Creativity: There Are No Rules OR Hegarty on Advertising. Podcasts? Tagline and Talking to Ourselves with Omid Farhang.
Your favorite fictional character.
- Marcelo: Tough one because so many come to mind. Right now I’ll have to say Bluey. She makes my son laugh and plays good music.
- Bharat: So many options, but let’s go with Stringer Bell from The Wire.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
- Marcelo: Mel D. Cole -- @meldcole
- Bharat: Mr. Doodle -- @MrDoodle and Pablo Rochat -- @Pablo.Rochat.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
- Marcelo: When I started out, career success always seemed to come at a cost. Without a doubt you were due to miss an important life moment with family/friends all in service of “success.” It doesn’t have to be that way any more. There are examples everyday of people making the best work and/or forging the best relationships of their lives, and all while doing outside of the traditional four-wall construct.
- Bharat: I met my now-wife during the pandemic, so my life has changed pretty dramatically for the better.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on, and why.
- Marcelo: The work we did for Ali Forney Center last year. We helped raise awareness and funds for homeless LGBTQIA+ youths. We were truly able to help people and that’s one of the great things we can do in this industry.
- Bharat: There are many…for many reasons. But years ago, I worked on Chipotle and they wanted to launch the brand on Snapchat. We came up with the first-ever episodic program on the platform. It was called School of Guac and was our take on an after-school special meets variety program meets satirical news program. It was a labor of love.
A recent project you're proud of, and why.
- Marcelo: Our work for New York-Presbyterian gets me excited to work, every day. The partnership we have developed with New York-Presbyterian, is probably in the top three of my career (if not the very best). In particular on the agency side, every discipline on the team is heard and pulling their own weight. And we’re having a blast doing it.
- Bharat: Our “Stay Amazing” campaign for NewYork-Presbyterian. We’re pushing the envelope for what a hospital system can do and what it stands for. Beyond the work itself, which we’re super proud of, we’re thrilled with the partnership. Our clients — led by Devika Mathrani — are incredible and it makes work that much more enjoyable and rewarding.
Also, incredibly proud of the mentorship program Charlie, Marcelo and I started with Dan Lucey at Havas NY. Named after the founder of Havas, it’s a program consisting of junior to ACD level creatives. We mentor them, offer opportunities on projects across our roster of clients, and give them live shots on active, proactive, and pro bono briefs. It’s about building culture and nurturing talent.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
- Marcelo: Marcello Serpa, all his work from DM9 and Almap had a big impact on me. Also Duncan Marshall, his film and ambient media work was always stunning and ahead of the curve.
- Bharat: When I first started out, I was at BBH-NY. I had the privilege to work with some of the sharpest, most brilliant creative minds. I’ll drop names, because they’re who I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’m still chasing them. Sir John Hegarty, Kevin Roddy, William Gelner, Kash Sree, Calle & Pelle Sjonell, Adam Reeves, Amir Farhang, Caprice Yu, Tim Geoghegan, Jon Randazzo, Kevin Doyle, Nick Klinkert, Matt Ian, Amee Shah, Jordan Kramer, Andre Massis, Amy Servidea, Peter LeFevbre. I could keep going, but they inspired and encouraged me to go to portfolio school.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
- Marcelo: Shout-out to these places making remarkable work right now; We Believers, Alto, Mojo Supermarket, Rethink and Special Group. You all know the work I’m talking about.
- Bharat: What Marcelo said.
Your main strength as a creative person.
- Marcelo: I listen more than I talk. We’re here to solve problems and you can’t do that properly if the right people are not heard.
- Bharat: I’m stubborn.
Your biggest weakness.
- Marcelo: I have an awful memory so I write everything down in my notepad and then I forget where I left my notepad.
- Bharat: I’m tone deaf. But it doesn’t stop me from singing.
One thing that always makes you happy.
- Marcelo: Morning routines with my son.
- Bharat: Loved ones and my pups, Monty and Barley.
One thing that always makes you sad.
- Marcelo: People being treated unfairly.
- Bharat: Thinking about loved ones no longer with us.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
- Marcelo: Detective work.
- Bharat: Something to do with writing. Maybe a speech writer or covering sports.
2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.