2 Minutes With ... Fede Garcia, Chief Creative Officer at BCW
BCW's chief creative officer and a copywriter by trade, Fede Garcia is renowned for big ideas that challenge convention, inspire delight and provoke action. A native of Argentina, Fede's 30-year career in advertising has spanned roles in Buenos Aires, Tokyo and New York. His work has been recognized by the Clios, Cannes Lions, D&AD, One Show, Effies and many more.
We spent two minutes with Fede to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.
Fede, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
Born and bred in Buenos Aires, in the Palermo neighborhood, way before it was cool. Then I moved to the opposite side of the world: Tokyo. After a four-year tenure, I arrived in NYC, where I've been living since 2016. After seven years in Manhattan, I'm now a proud Brooklynite.
How you first realized you were creative.
I don't think I've realized that yet, as I have a massive imposter syndrome, so I still feel that I'm not really creative. I'm just a guy that somehow managed to make a career in this beautiful business of ours.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
I stared my career at 18 years old, as an errand boy in what was then the biggest agency in Argentina, Casares Grey y Asociados (now Grey Buenos Aires). Back then, in the early '90s, the chief creative was Fernando Vega Olmos, the Argentinian embodiment of Don Draper. Someone once said to me: Never meet your heroes. I did meet him, and still idolize him.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I was a marketing major in college. My goal was to be an account director. I wanted to work in advertising, but never as a creative, because back then I didn't think I had the chops (still don't). One day, I heard about a contest launched by the biggest radio station in Argentina to create a campaign to fight music piracy. As an exercise, I wrote a campaign in one rainy day (the day of the deadline). I won the contest and landed my first job as a copywriter at the station.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Well, at heart I'm a writer, so to me the lyrics of a song are everything. In that sense, I'd have to go with Martin Gore from Depeche Mode and Robert Smith from The Cure. On the visual artist side, I'm a failed photographer, so I'd say Ellen Von Unwerth.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I must go with The Offer. It tells the story of what it took to get The Godfather made, to take it from book to the silver screen. The obstacles, the struggles, the endless fights to keep Coppola's vision 'til the very end. I can certainly relate to that. Any creative in the world can relate to that.
Your favorite fictional character.
I'd have to go with Harry Potter, because, above all things, I'm a Potterhead, and proudly so. But, I feel there is a cast of characters that represent who I am, or the person I'd love to be. Funnily enough, they're all written by Aaron Sorkin. Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) from The Newsroom, Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or Dan Rydell (Josh Charles) from Sports Night. All of them, in some way or another, writers.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
Lionel Messi, obviously.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
When everything that you love and enjoy suddenly gets taken from you, it really gives you a new appreciation for the little things. For me, it was a bit of a slap in the face, a wake-up call that reminded me to live a little. I started driving motorcycles for the first time during the pandemic. It changed my life.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
The launch of a make-up brand called Il Makiage. Big, bold, unapologetic billboards taking over Manhattan. I've been in NYC as a tourist, and always dreamt of having a massive billboard in Manhattan. That campaign gave me my first ad in Times Square. A dream come true.
I must mention a second one, another dream come true. After Trump's 2016 win, with the country more divided than ever, we were tasked by the NFL to create a message of unity. The product of that ask became my first Super Bowl ad, called “Inside These Lines.” But then, seven months later in a rally in Arizona, Trump decided to target NFL players who were kneeling during the national anthem. As a response to his "Get that son of a b— off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!" tirade, the NFL ran the spot for a second time as an answer to his rant.
A recent project you're proud of.
As I grow older, I yearn to make a positive impact on the world. The gun issue would be at the top of my list. This year, I was lucky enough to work with two amazing organizations, Brady and Change the Ref, to promote the banning of assault weapons.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
Did I mention I'm a writer? When PlayStation's "Double Life" came out in the late '90s, I thought no one could ever write better copy. I still believe so. Conceptually brilliant ("at night I live a life of exhilaration, of missed heartbeats and adrenaline"), executed perfectly (that little kid saying "and conquered worlds"—oh my God!).
Someone else's work you admired lately.
Lately I'm obsessed with the work that Translation is doing. I worked there, so I have a soft spot for them. Today, I've been looking at what they've been doing from afar, and I'm completely in awe. You know how some agencies talk about having their finger on the pulse of culture? Well, it's usually BS. But Translation definitely does. No one comes even close. The Beats spot "You Love Me" is the epitome of that. Best piece of work to come out in the last three years, if you ask me.
Your main strength as a creative person.
My ability to give precise feedback. Working in Tokyo for four years, giving feedback to my teams with a live translator in the middle, completely changed the way I do it. It pushed me into taking my time, to collect my thoughts first, and then communicate them in a concise way. Jibber-jabbering through your feedback doesn't work.
Your biggest weakness.
I'm obsessed with all things typography. I can drive art directors crazy over the choice of a typeface.
One thing that always makes you happy.
One thing that always makes you sad.
Remembering he's retired.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
I'd be living off my dad because, besides this, I don't know how to do anything else. But I'd try my hand at writing. Or teaching. I guess professional tennis or Moto GP rider are out of the realm of possibility, right?