2 Minutes With … Luca Lorenzini and Luca Pannese, ECDs of Small

Sting recorded a song they wrote for a CoorDown PSA

Luca Lorenzini and Luca Pannese are cofounders and ECDs of Small and founding partners of By The Network. Small is an agency specializing in culturally relevant, buzzworthy campaigns.

Lorenzini and Pannese have worked together for 23 years. After stretches as the Milan offices of Y&R and Saatchi & Saatchi, they made the move to NYC in 2015, and eventually launched Small. Their portfolio includes campaigns for Toyota, Heineken, Netflix, Diesel, Pampers, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, General Mills and P&G, among others.

We spent two minutes with Luca and Luca to learn more about their background, their creative inspirations and recent work they've admired.

Luca and Luca, tell us …

Where you grew up and where you live now.
  • Luca L.: I grew up in Tuscany, in a small town called Sarteano in Val d'Orcia. I now live in Brooklyn.
  • Luca P.: I was born and raised in Rome, and now I live in New York.
How you first realized you were creative.
  • Luca L.: I wrote my first novel when I was nine. It was very bad. Then I wrote three other novels. Still bad. So I chose advertising.
  • Luca P.: I grew up with skateboarding, consuming the sport itself as well as the magazines, videos and apparel. Skateboarding culture has always been incredibly creative and disruptive, and I developed a deep affection for all of it. It was back then that I realized I wanted to create that type of imagery, design and branding.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
  • Luca L.: The first time I came to New York, in 1992. It was through an exchange program with a high school in Baltimore. I was mesmerized by this city, which was so different from where I lived in Italy. I could never have imagined that one day I would live here. Even now, it's still difficult to believe.
  • Luca P.: When I was 24, studying design in Rome, our professor organized a field trip to visit an advertising agency. And at that time, I didn't exactly know what an advertising agency was. But I vividly remember sitting at a table, listening to a creative director explaining the process behind a Renault campaign. At that moment, it clicked for me. I realized that I wanted to do more than just design. That day, I knew I wanted to become a creative director.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
A book, movie, TV show, or podcast you recently found inspiring.
Your favorite fictional character.
Someone or something worth following on social media.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
  • Luca L.: Professionally, nothing really changed for us. On a personal level, my family (my wife, daughter, dog and I) tried to make the best of it and took a road trip around the U.S. We started in Florida in Dec. 2020, then went to Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia and finally back to New York in May 2021. Throughout this time, I was working and my daughter was doing remote schooling. It was an amazing experience that allowed us to visit places we probably would have never seen otherwise.
  • Luca P.: We started small in 2019 without a headquarters or an office; everything and everyone was remote. Everybody's reaction was like, "What? Are you crazy? How can you do it without an office? It's not going to work, guys, sorry." And then, a year later, Covid hit, forcing everyone to embrace conference calls and democratizing this new way of working. So when clients reached out and realized we were already set up in that way and ready to work as usual without compromises and at full speed ... well, everything took off.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 
  • Luca L.: "The Condo T-shirts" by Diesel was one of our first projects with Small. One of those projects you can only bring to life if you work with a brave client.
  • Luca P.: We’ve been working for 11 years with CoorDown, an association that fights for the rights of people with Down Syndrome. "The Hiring Chain" is probably the campaign that, more than any other, broke the boundaries of advertising and made it into the real world, actually helping people with Down Syndrome finding a job. Plus, Sting sang the song we wrote!
A recent project you're proud of. 
  • Luca L.: Our CoorDown campaign "Ridiculous Excuses Not to Be Included," and we're very proud of it.
  • Luca P.: "The Miami Bull." The campaign is an actual monument in Miami. It has been a year-long project and I am proud of how we managed to create such a big piece of work only two years after we started Small.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
  • Luca L.: When I was a young creative I loved "Impossible Dream" by Honda. It had everything: beautiful music, amazing images, an irresistible crescendo. It still gives me chills.
  • Luca P.: It was 2005. I was an art director at Saatchi & Saatchi Milan, when this crazy ad came out: Carlton Draught's "Big Ad." It changed the way I looked at this job and taught me a new way of thinking about ads.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
  • Luca L.: We used to work for Publicis N.Y., and Javier Campopiano and Daniel Lobaton, who worked for Saatchi and Saatchi N.Y., called us and said, "Guys, come upstairs. We want to show you the first cut of our Tide Superbowl ad." I still remember feeling overwhelmed by how perfect it was. I literally went down on my knees and started laughing with excitement.
  • Luca P.: I absolutely adore Nike's "Dream Crazy" campaign. It resonates deeply with me, and I love every aspect of it. It was one of those moments where I thought to myself, "I wish I had done it." And I felt a tinge of envy for the remarkable creative writing and the audaciousness displayed by Nike's brand team in broadcasting such a powerful statement.
Your main strength as a creative person.
  • Luca L.: I'm good at presenting ideas to clients and making them understand exactly what the idea is about. If clients don't like an idea, that's bad. But if they don't understand it, that's even worse.
  • Luca P.: Passion. I used to be a professional taekwondo athlete, and although I don't practice anymore, I still apply what I've learned: I dream big, work hard and don't give up easily. I have a competitive spirit and enjoy winning. I see my job as a sport, and I believe my strength lies in my passion for it.
Your biggest weakness.
  • Luca L.: I'm too transparent with clients. And, sometimes, this doesn't help.
  • Luca P.: I still fall in love with ideas. Damn!
One thing that always makes you happy. 
  • Luca L.: Pasta.
  • Luca P.: Taekwondo, snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding, soccer. Sorry, I couldn't pick only one.
One thing that always makes you sad. 
  • Luca L.: Overcooked pasta.
  • Luca P.: When I make a wrong turn while struggling to follow the GPS directions.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
  • Luca L.: I would probably be writing my fourth novel and going hungry.
  • Luca P.: I'd probably work in the sports industry. Once an athlete, always an athlete.

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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