2 Minutes With … Juan Carlos Ortíz, President and CEO of DDB Latina

On reaching hostages via Morse code in a song and his anti-drug campaign 'Dandruff'

Juan Carlos Ortíz was the first Latin American to become president of an advertising agency in the U.S. when he led Leo Burnett USA in 2006. In 2008, he joined DDB Worldwide as CEO of the Latin American offices, where he united the company’s Latin markets around the world under a unique vision of culture instead of geography. In 2014, Ortiz took on the role of creative chairman of DDB Americas to merge the creative teams of North America, Spain and Latin America.

Ortíz is the author of Shorts, Shorts and a 1/2, and ShortsX2. Juan Carlos is also a columnist for El Espectador newspaper and Soho magazine. We spent two minutes with Juan Carlos, to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.

Juan Carlos, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Bogota, Colombia, and I now live in the U.S. I travel to New York and love the energy of cities like New York and Miami.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

I wanted to be Alexander the Great when I grew up. I am super passionate about history and brave leaders.

How you realized you were creative.

My creativity sparked early, when I was creating stories with my toy soldiers. I still own a big collection of miniature toy soldiers that represent key different moments of history.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

My idol was my grandmother. She taught me resilience.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

My first kiss changed my life. It opened the door to the world of emotions.

A visual artist you admire.

I admire René Magritte, the artist who better expresses simplicity and concepts.

A band or musician you love.

I love Rush. I’ve often wondered how can only three people create such beautiful music?

Your favorite fictional character.

My favorite fictional character was Moonlight Mask. It was inspiring to see how the mix of three different elements—a pistol, a motorcycle and a whip—could create such a unique personality.  

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

One thing I find inspiring is the book I wrote on my phone, flying at 30,000 feet above the ground. There is nothing more inspiring than a clear, blue, open sky.

My favorite movie is Highlander. I never saw the time translation from one time in history to another.

And my favorite TV show is Ratched. It is not only about the what, but about the how. I loved its art direction.

Someone worth following on Instagram.

I follow my kids on Instagram. On Instagram is where I understand and connect with trends. And keep up with what my kids are doing.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

I think what Covid-19 taught many of us was the importance of less travel and more time spent with family. Family is what matters most.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.

Sending a message to hostages using Morse code in a song. It overviews the schemes of such a complex human problem through creativity. This idea had an impact in solving a real social conflict.

"Caspa" (Dandruff). This piece of work represents the highest level of simplicity and creativity in communications. It was the first Film Gold Lion in the history of Colombia as a country.

Caspa (Dandruff)
A recent project you're proud of.

I am most proud of having contributed to the 51 percent of the creative awards of DDB Worldwide in 2021 as DDB Latina. #influencialatina

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Michael Conrad. He has always inspired me to be a better person and a better creative.

Someone else's work that you admired lately.

I really admire Miguel Ángel Furones as not always can you find a mentor, a master and a friend all in one person.

A main strength of yours as a creative person.

Simplicity and definitely passion.

Your biggest weakness.

I never stop.

One thing that always makes you happy.

It’s hard to name one thing. Mostly my family. My work. Sports. Tennis, cycling, swimming and soccer.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Ungrateful people. I always trust people, and when they are ungrateful that can be disappointing.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

I might be a historian. Or … a writer, a filmmaker, and do more traveling.

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.

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