2 Minutes With ... Javier Campopiano, Chief Creative Officer of Grey Europe

Creative adventures on three continents

Photo illustration by Ashley Epping

Javier Campopiano recently joined Grey as chief creative officer for Grey Europe and Global Clients. He joined Grey from FCB Mexico, where he had been CCO, following a tenure as CCO of Saatchi & Saatchi New York, where he famously developed "It's a Tide Ad" for the 2018 Super Bowl.

Campopiano began his career as an intern at Ogilvy Argentina and went on to become regional creative director in Latin America for Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi and FCB before becoming a partner and chief creative officer of FCB New York.

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

[Editor's note: The interview was conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak.]

Javier, tell us...

The town where you were born, and where you live now. 

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I now live between London and Madrid. Based on an Airbus, as I usually say.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

A painter.

How you discovered you were creative. 

Really quickly, as a child. I started drawing when I was little, doing comic strips and writing stuff.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

As soon as I started reading, Jules Verne. Later, Ray Bradbury. Jorge Luis Borges. All writers.

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

I started doing drawings for my schoolmates for them to paste into their notebooks, like stickers. And they'd pay for it! I thought, OK, maybe I can do a living using my talents.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

A concert by my uncle. He's a classical guitar player and composer—and to this day, he's one of my idols. When I was a teenager, I was pretty much into trash metal and my favorite band was Megadeth—I got to see them touring their best record, Youthanasia. I love anything that Thom Yorke does. If he makes a cheese sandwich that can be played on Spotify, it would become my favorite track! There's a couple of Argentinian bands I play constantly: Massacre and El Mató A Un Policía Motorizado.

Your favorite visual artist.

Caravaggio when I was a child. Right now, I am seriously obsessed with Ron Nagle. It freaks me out how good he is.

Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction.

Montag, the conflicted firefighter (or firestarter) in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

The best book you've read lately.

Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías. Anything from Alice Munro. Hot Milk by Deborah Levy.

Your favorite movie.

I rewatched Marriage Story almost every two days for a while, so I guess it qualifies as a recent favorite. But there are too many movies in my life. Certified Copy from Kiarostami. Roma. Interstellar. A Fantastic Woman. This is an unfair question (not a movie title).

Your favorite Instagram follow.

I use Instagram to make my eyes feel better, so I follow a lot of artists—mostly photographers. My favorite right now: David Rothenberg, a photographer whose most famous project is about crazy portraits of passengers from planes passing by the low skyline of Queens.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why.

The obvious answer is "It's a Tide Ad." It was a pleasure from start to end and checked many boxes at once. It was like Disneyland for creatives and ad nerds. We got to have the Old Spice guy on the set with David Harbour saying our lines. We had the mom from ET playing a lady in a fake pharma ad. We could make fun of the stupid advertising stereotypes.

Tide | It's a Tide Ad

But there are another two that are really close to my heart: "The Receipt" for Walmart and the Oscars, where we had award-winning directors writing short films based on a Walmart receipt, and "C21" for NDSS, a restaurant run by people with Down syndrome that got to change an unfair law.

Your favorite creative project from the past year, and why.

It's a piece for Nivea Men I did right before moving from FCB to Grey. It's part of a big platform we created but, as a film, it is one of those things where you get to say something meaningful or interesting without losing the humor or pointing fingers. It's kind of a purpose-driven idea, but the purpose part is actually not heavy-handed—it's just the right balance between talking about a delicate topic like men's sensitivity and keeping the lightness of the brand.

Nivea | Epic Tale
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

I've been talking constantly about the best Argentinian agency when I was growing up, Agulla & Baccetti. Everything they did over a span of 10 years was fundamental for all the upcoming generations of creatives. They changed Argentinian advertising forever. 

Also, Pablo Del Campo's agency was an icon of how to produce work that could travel from Argentina to the rest of the world. It was the most formative experience of my career working there.

Someone else's creative project that you've been envious of lately.

The last time I hated myself for not being part of a project was when I saw the headlines of Fearless Girl in The New York Times. From a rational standpoint, I have many reasons to not put that one as The One, but it will go down as one of the milestones of advertising creativity and the statue will remain there forever. I still feel envy.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I know how to tell a story, and I have a good sense of humor as a writer. On a good day, I can make other people's ideas better.

Your weakness or blind spot.

Sometimes I see I have a "style" in the work I do. But you are not supposed to have a style—you are supposed to be like Zelig and disappear on your client's brands, not the opposite.

One thing that always makes you happy.

The music intro for Curb Your Enthusiasm.

One thing that always makes you sad.

News about the Argentinian economy.

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

Honestly, I have no clue.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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