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The Andi Emerson Award 2019

Pablo Alzugaray

Issue 51 | June 2019

The Caples Awards were founded by Andi Emerson in 1978. When she passed on in 2008, the trustees agreed that a suitable memorial to her would be an annual award made to an individual for outstanding service to the direct marketing community.

Duncan Gray, still a director of The Caples Awards, was the first recipient of the award.

He was followed in 2010 by the great, late Lester Wunderman.

Other recipients have included Don Schultz, Professor Emeritus of Service at Northwest University, Illinois, Brian Fetherstonehaugh, CEO of OgilvyOne New York and Rory Sutherland, author, TED-talker and current Vice-Chair of Ogilvy.

In 2018, it was agreed to make the Andi Emerson Award the gift of the President of the jury.

Emma de la Fosse, Chief Creative Officer of the Ogilvy Group UK and jury President that year, nominated David Droga, Chairman of Droga 5, as a person who has contributed hugely to the evolution of advertising.

In 2019, jury President Alfonso Marian chose Pablo Alzugaray.

What the CV tells you is that Pablo started in advertising at di Paola & Peydro in Argentina.

From there he joined CP Comunicacio┬┤n which morphed into CP Proximity, where, in 1994, he became the Managing Director.

In 1996 he became CEO of Contrapunto BBDO.

In 2000 he became the co-founder of Proximity Worldwide, a global network of direct marketing agencies under the BBDO umbrella.

In 2004, he established his own agency, Shackleton, which has offices in Madrid, Barcelona and Santiago, Chile. In 2019, Shackleton joined Accenture in what has been described as "the biggest deal in the history of advertising in Spain."

The CV doesn't reveal anything of the man. And at The Caples Awards dinner on May 9th, both Alfonso Marian and Caples editor/manager Patrick Collister talked about why Alzugaray is such a worthy recipient of the prestigious Andi Emerson Award.

Direct marketing has changed and it is Shackleton that has changed it

Direct marketing has been transformed in the last 15 years into a far broader and creatively more intriguing category than it used to be. Shackleton was very much in the vanguard of agencies exploring new ways for brands to engage with their customers.

In recent years, the agency has won Gold and Silver Lions at Cannes in Promo, Cyber, Integrated, PR and Outdoor as well as in Direct.

Collister said, "I am delighted that Pablo Alzugaray is winning this recognition. In some ways it is horrifying that he is the first person to win the award from a non- English speaking country but in some ways it is absolutely fitting too.

When he started his agency in 2004, he named it after the British explorer Ernest Shackleton. This was a man who once said, "Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results."

He could have been talking about creativity. Great ideas are nothing if they do not have great outcomes.

Shackleton believed strongly in the team. When his expedition team to the Antarctic became stranded in 1915, he led every man to safety. So, in naming his company after a man who is a role model for leadership, Alzugaray was making a commitment to anyone who has, does and will work with him that they are in it together.

It takes real creativity to establish a culture Fashioning a culture in which people feel psychologically safe and can do their best work is no easy thing. But the string of awards won by countless different creative people at Shackleton is testament to Pablo's own creative skills. There are many stories about him. This is a personal favourite.

Banco Gallego invited a number of agencies to pitch for a project. They wanted more customers for a high- yielding deposit account. Shackleton pitched but were not successful. None of the agencies were. The marketing director contacted Pablo to say that while he felt the agency's work wasn't right, he liked their energy and enthusiasm. Would Shackleton like to pitch again?

A week later, the team returned to Banco Gallego. But after ten minutes, the bank's CEO rapped his knuckles on the table. "Stop, stop. This is exactly the same pitch as last week."

"Yes," said Pablo. "We believed in the idea then and we believe in it now." That campaign, incidentally, not only went on to win the Direct Grand Prix at Cannes, it achieved 157% of its objectives for new depositors."

Alfonso Marian told the audience how he had first met Pablo.

He went for an interview as a junior copywriter at CP Comunicacio┬┤n. Unsure about him, Pablo asked Alfonso to go away and write a newsletter for the agency. He would be assessed on how he wrote that.

A week later, Afonso returned. No newsletter but lots of ads.

Pablo recognised talent when he saw it, even if it was contrary talent, and hired Alfonso. On the very same day, Pablo also interviewed another young creative, Jeannie Pascual. Though he didn't offer her a job, he did end up marrying her.

Creativity is the art of solving business problems

Marian said, "Nowadays it is common to talk about creativity outside the creative department. What is unusual is that Pablo has been preaching this idea of creativity as being business-focused problem-solving for over 20 years. That's why he is receiving this award.

Like The Caples, Pablo believes in work that works. In ideas that have commercial purpose and that are effective in the marketplace.

Working with him in the 1990s was a privilege because it wasn't just his belief in the power of creativity that was so empowering but his vision. It is forgotten by some that he pretty much invented "branded content" before anyone knew what the two words meant.

And many still don't.

It's how he built Proximity Spain from nothing to becoming the most awarded direct marketing agency in the world and how Shackleton was Agency of the Year on no fewer than three occasions at Cannes.

It is appropriate that Pablo follows David Droga as the winner of the Andi Emerson Award because he is now following Droga into the network of creative experience agencies being built by Accenture.

The acquisition is evidence of Shackleton's creative credentials.

The New York Times was sufficiently interested in the agency's distinctive culture to write 1,000 words about it. The agency itself chose to announce the deal with a YouTube film.

A creative growing wings. Becoming an angel.

Of course, there were many times in many meetings when I wanted to kill him, but my career and the career of many others would never have been what they are today without him. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my old boss, my colleague and my friend – Pablo Alzugaray."

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