COLLABORATION LAB – Hernán Sen, Director of Dandy: “2021: Threat vs. Challenge”.
Hernán Sen, director of Dandy, the agency responsible for Telecentro’s turnaround, talks about projects and what’s new for 2021.
“Since the pandemic started back in March up until now, I’ve heard countless times the phrase “this has been a year gone to waste”. At Dandy, we experienced it in a completely different way, mainly because it did nothing but confirm our vision of the industry,” says Hernán Sen, Director of Dandy. He then adds: “That is, we had been working with the agency in the cloud for some time before the pandemic, and the new context gave us the drive to consolidate our position. Instead of seeing it as a threat, we looked at it as a challenge to continue our total reinvention. And we are heading towards this challenge full of confidence.
What was the biggest challenge this year for the agency’s clients?
During 2020, they were all very focused on their overdue digital transformation. Some found it more difficult than others because, logically, not everyone was prepared in the same way. Still, we used our digital expertise to accompany them during the change and, by doing so, we were able to carry out the projects we had planned for 2020. We only left one project on standby… And it’s a bomb! Hehe, I hope I can share it here in 2021. Luckily, this year did not stop us. In fact, it provided the tailwind behind all the changes the pandemic accelerated. We are about to put online Mummy’s Yummys, a project we talked about in March, which is a startup of gastronomic products in the USA. We completed the first Precision Marketing campaign for Topcret, a company based in Spain; and for NutriBaby, the premium formula milk brand of Roemmers Laboratories. The studio managed to execute this year’s campaign by adapting to the ongoing situation and working as a team together with the client and Tribu, the data-driven strategic marketing agency of Pablo Gazzera, Unilever’s former EVP. Together we were able to achieve the objectives, and that allowed us to plan the campaign’s continuity for next year. Telecentro was another similar case. While there are industries that were hit very hard by this new reality, telecomms were logically very active. The results were very good and so were the work dynamics. We are very happy with everything we did, but also for how we did it.
Telecentro is a project the market is talking about. The company’s growth is really impressive. How do you experience it at the agency?
Yes, Telecentro is undoubtedly one of the most important success stories for the agency in 2020. We won the account in mid-2016 and, fortunately, in the very first “Smart TV” campaign we already saw great results. In addition, when they were joined by Tribu -something I personally had been insisting on- we achieved a significant takeoff. I always highlight the company’s commitment, and their dedication to their work is just incredible. We forged a team between Telecentro, Tribu and Dandy that works as a single unit.
How would you describe this moment in your career?
A turning point, no doubt about it. I’ve been through many good personal and intimate changes in my life and I do believe they are reflected in the agency. A lot of open-mindedness, trust and passion. The other day I was talking to a friend from another industry, and he told me: “I don’t work, I have never worked in my life”. He’s passionate about what he does and that changes everything. Attitude is everything, right?
Do you think 2021 will be similar to this year that is about to end?
There is a lot of talk about the famous “new normal”. Personally, I think that, at least in terms of work, the word “new” is not very accurate. If we go back in time, this process of digitalization of companies has already begun. The pandemic simply accelerated the need for that change. It caught us in a good position precisely because we were already several years into the implementation of our digital transformation. This year has left us with many lessons. One of the most important was that we can be connected and keep going. We just have to change our ways and make the most out of the advantages technology gives us. I believe that 2021 will be even better from the point of view of work. The working machine is well oiled and, with vaccines in sight by the middle of the year, we’re already imagining the post-pandemic world of communications.
How do you imagine the future of Dandy from January onward?
With lots of optimism. As I said before, with some clients such as NutriBaby and Telecentro we are already focused on planning objectives and campaigns for 2021. We are also working hard for the international market (USA, Europe and Latin America). We are very excited about new projects which we are getting ready. Among them a very interesting one about bio-mimicry for a client in Mexico. Day by day we focus on our goal of making Dandy a global and technological agency.
Is there still room for Dandy to continue transforming itself?
Of course there is. We have been following a line of thought based on the idea of “breaking structures”. That is to say, leaving aside traditional structures, the 100% local team, the classic office hours, etc. Although we can already say that we are totally digital today, the cloud is always in constant change, so I am sure that we will continue to transform ourselves. Apart from this, we have also been betting on data as key information in order to maximize the efficiency of our campaigns and messages. And we will continue to do so because the results we achieve by promoting creativity with data confirm to us on a daily basis that this is the way to go. Another transformation we have made -and will continue to make- has to do with offshoring resources. Today, borders are much closer than before and this makes it possible, for example, for human resources to live where they prefer, which is emotionally very important, especially in industries such as ours where creative minds work.
What was the key for Dandy to continue to evolve and grow in such an unpredictable context?
I think our key was and still is experience. The three really specialized areas in design, advertising and digital allowed us to adapt. Having a clear idea of what you do is what allows you to look for new ways of doing it. In short, it’s about breaking structures while always safeguarding knowledge. This is how we managed to continue offering high quality service to our clients, with a real integration of the three areas in order to reach a homogeneous and compact 360°. Of course, I must add -and this I believe is no minor detail- that we had already covered a great part of the road to digitalization that the pandemic ended up demanding.
What do you expect 2021 to surprise you with in terms of work?
Internally, we’ve changed a lot of things, from structure to processes. Not just us, but also our clients. That transformation, in the context in which we find ourselves, also generated stronger ties, which can be synthesized in one word: trust. So what I do hope is that clients will simply continue to trust what we do. That is exactly what will surely continue to open doors for us all over the world.
What message would you give to people as we close this year that has been so different for everyone?
I’ve learned that you should not be afraid of change. When the rules of the game change, the best thing to do is to learn from them like a Dandy in order to break them like an artist. At least, that’s what Picasso believed.