2 Minutes With … Roy Torres, VP of Creative at La Colombe Coffee

On prioritizing the emotional response when crafting campaigns

Roy Torres serves as vice president of creative at La Colombe Coffee. Prior to that, he spent some time at pet industry brand Stella & Chewy's as its creative director. Over the past 15-plus years, Roy has worked at such agencies as Anomaly, Droga5, Grey, Huge, Y&R and VML.

We spent two minutes with Roy to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Roy, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now. 

I was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in Orlando. I played college baseball for a few years in North Carolina, and then attended Miami Ad School. I moved to New York City and spent most of my advertising career there. I currently live in Atlanta with my wife, 4-year-old son, two dogs, and Corrie the cat.  

How you first realized you were creative. 

My dad had been in the printing business, so I was always around graphic design, paper and ink. My mom was a ceramist and florist, so creativity was in my blood. Early on, when we would take family trips, I would steal my parents' VHS camera and film horror movies with my cousin at hotel saunas.

A person you idolized creatively early on. 

Tom Kuntz. I've always been in love with commercial storytelling and music videos, especially the funny and weird ones. It's the type of work that got me into the industry in the first place.

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

I didn't really know what I wanted to be. I was studying to be a sports therapist because I was playing college baseball. But then I took a random advertising class and our professor (who worked at BBDO N.Y. as an account guy in the '60s) told us on the first day that there are people called "art directors" and "copywriters" who get paid to put their feet up on desks, smoke cigs and come up with ideas. He literally used air quotes.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire. 

LCD Soundsystem because of the nostalgic memories of living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they conjure when I listen to them.

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

Succession. The Tiger Woods documentary. Break Point, the tennis docuseries. If you haven't seen it, stop reading this right now and watch the first episode.

Your favorite fictional character. 

Clark Griswold

Someone or something worth following in social media. 

@atlscoop on Instagram. Atlanta is a crazy place.

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

I started using my hands again and spending less time on social. I designed and built my sons' treehouse from scratch. It's one of the most rewarding projects I've ever worked on. Covid also made me appreciate the items that are inside your home—and helped me get rid of the things that didn't bring me any joy.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

"Instagram Adventures" for Land Rover's Discovery Sport. Users can tap various tiles within each panoseries (@solitutideinsawtooth and @brotherhoodofwonderstone) to view videos that showcase technical off-roading knowledge (like how to properly ford a river) and teach survival skills (such as how to turn a leaf into a compass, or how to treat a wound in the wild). Professional survivalists were on set to ensure that all demonstrations were accurate and authentic.

A recent project you're proud of.

Our summer campaign "The Holy Grail of Cold Brew." We brought together, under the guise of filming a documentary, cold-coffee drinkers from across the country to share how much they love their favorites. We had Starbucks' superfans, Dunkin’ diehards and indie enthusiasts. But, not only did the documentary not exist, we gave each person a taste of delicious La Colombe and canned lattes without them even knowing it.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Erik Vervroegen, who is easily one of the most awarded and influential people in the industry. I was lucky enough to intern at TBWA\Paris for a few months. Erik ran that shop and would park his Harley at the front door. Then a few years later he did a stint at Y&R and I worked with him on a pitch. He hated my outdoor comps because the angles were wrong, but I learned so much from him.

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

The Family Bros. in Atlanta are doing some really fun branding.

Your main strength as a creative person. 

Caring about the work. I want someone to feel something when they see a piece of communications. Whether they laugh, cry, feel excitement or anger … getting something out of someone is better than getting nothing. Someone once said a similar thing about the Met Gala. You want people to talk about you; whether they hate or love your stupid, oversized hat, at least they noticed you.

Your biggest weakness. 

An authentic Cuban sandwich. I will never say no.

One thing that always makes you happy. 

Memories of Yankees vs. Red Sox, behind home plate with a Sam Adams at Fenway Park. There were two brawls during that game. I was lucky enough to be there during a work trip. I still think about that day all the time.

One thing that always makes you sad. 

An empty toothpaste tube.

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

Running a general store in the Hudson Valley, selling Cuban sandwiches and toothpaste.

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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