Born: Baltimore, Maryland- USA, but raised in the Dominican Republic.
Worked in: All over the western hemisphere, including the U.S., Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina,
After establishing the Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi Miami office, Cynthia was given the charge of turning around a financially and creatively struggling Conill in the U.S. Conversely, there were islands of creative excellence throughout Latin America, but with little regional sharing.
She brought Conill into the fold, making it part of the Latin American network and giving it access to top talent and resources across the region. This is what led to the stark transformation of that agency. In return, Conill contributed quite a bit to the region in terms of insights into bicultural Latinos.
Today, the region continues to operate more holistically, with Conill becoming a Digital and non-traditional center of excellence for Saatchi & Saatchi Latin America.
What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? Innovation has always been at the heart of everything we do as an enterprise. Today, it’s just in hyperdrive, as if at some point the laws of physics changed and time sped up. The frequency and necessity of global branding makes understanding and interpreting cultural dynamics at the local and regional level paramount. This has led us to rely less and less on focus groups and surveys and more and more towards living with the masses via what we call Xploring.
Media proliferation has also added wondrous complexity to what we do. Not because there are more options, that’s the easy part, it’s determining exactly how our ideas are connecting with people in their delivered forms and what type of three-way engagement they inspire (brand to person, person to brand and person to person). This is a much more complicated algorithm than looking at channel penetration potential. We have been retooling the way we look at how people respond through mediums. It’s certainly a work in progress, but we’ve been getting great results. A terrific recent example is the fabulous work of our Buenos Aires agency for Andes beer. It just won the outdoor Grand Prix at Cannes, in addition to media and promotional honors. The effort has become a cultural phenomenon in the region and serves as an example of how a BIG creative idea travels across any medium, because it truly has the power to connect with consumers.
What is the biggest challenge you face in applying innovative thinking to international projects? It’s getting people to think AND, AND. This means looking for more… more tie-in’s, more insights, more touchpoints, more engagement, and more consumer revelations, which are emotional at their foundation. Culture is the epicenter of all this. Innovation always happens at the edges before it becomes part of a brand’s global DNA.
Dictionary definitions aside, how would you characterize innovation in the work you do? Take a look at the synonyms for innovation: novelty, improvement, advancement and perhaps a dozen others. What do they all have in common? ACTION. The best way to inspire positive action is through relentlessly challenging everything—ourselves, our clients, our personal beliefs—everything. My job is to challenge 1000 people in our Latin American network.
Any internationalist trivia about yourself? Because of my travels (which began very young), I’ve developed a knack for picking up local accents. This has been very helpful when considering the importance of cultural distinctions, which could mean the difference between a compliment and an insult. I’m on the road so much that I often don’t know where I am until I hear myself speak. A friend and colleague of mine once said that the title of my memoir should read: “If it’s Monday this must be Mexico City.” I think that pretty much sums up mylife.