Laura Sampedro headshotLaura Sampedro headshot

From leading a diverse team to her experience from Madrid to Los Angeles, Laura Sampedro, Executive Creative Director at MullenLowe Los Angeles, explores the cultural challenges and learnings she has encountered along the way. Additionally, she reveals how she balances creative innovation with client expectations and the influence of the city itself on her creative approach.

What are the current functions of your position, and what kind of creative profiles do you have on your team?

I am the creative leader of MullenLowe Los Angeles (alongside Carlos Alija), and therefore, responsible for the agency’s creative product and culture. We lead a team of forty creative profiles, including art directors, copywriters, designers, photographers, content makers, and editors.

What broadened perspectives and creative lessons has the journey from Madrid to Sydney, London, New York, and Los Angeles given you? Have you encountered many barriers, prejudices, or cultural clashes along the way?

Each country and agency leaves its mark on you, but above all, it allows you to discover new ways of facing creative challenges. Cities with such marked personalities and cultures force you in some way to reinvent yourself. To learn to overcome the cultural gap, which always exists, but also to value the skills that differentiate you and make you unique in that market.

What is the philosophy, mindset, and different creative approaches that have been established in the agency since your arrival, along with Carlos, as Executive Creative Directors of the office?

We firmly believe that the way of working, rigor in processes, and the level of scrutiny applied at each step ultimately define the work and culture of an agency. No advertiser provides a brief with the intention of creating something bland or undifferentiated. Yet, 90% of advertising is forgettable or irrelevant in the real world. This is evidence that good intentions are not enough when you let processes pass like a steamroller over what common sense and the need for exploration and interaction in the creative process dictate.

It is said that "the devil is in the details," and a small detail can make a significant difference in a creative routine or a brand's journey. However, can the speed demanded in these times compromise those small creative adjustments that should be implemented?

I think the question is answered in the previous response: they are compromised, undoubtedly.

How do you balance the attempt to be pioneers and effective in creative ideas with the potential resistance to changes that may arise from clients?

By building trust from clients towards the agency as quickly as possible. We always say that each meeting is an opportunity to gain “trust points.” Starting with a very solid strategic thought that provides them with a certain safety net but always with a creative leap that they alone could not have reached, something that surprises them, pushes them, even scares them. But it has to work somehow or another. If not, that trust is never built or quickly exhausted.

Some of your works are closely tied to entertainment, such as the anime series you created for the car manufacturer Acura or the collaboration of this brand with a famous hip-hop artist - Vince Staples - or the bilingual launch of the iconic song "Gracias a la vida" for the tequila brand Patrón. What do you think is the secret to launching relevant entertainment content that doesn't get lost in the vast array of available offerings?

In my opinion, the best advertising has always had an entertainment aspect. Something that rewards the attention demanded. Whether in the form of a commercial, a series, or a music video. Our favorite approach is to find ideas that function as appealing content in different formats while feeding off each other: that is, for example, the launch of a song and its music video make the commercial have a greater impact and notoriety than if it were simply a story that begins and ends in thirty seconds.

Los Angeles currently goes beyond being the birthplace of cinema and is a significant hub for all kinds of entertainment. How does that cultural melting pot permeate into your work culture?

It’s a city with an enormous universal cultural impact: initially, it came mainly from film, music, and television, but now also from technology, fashion, architecture, or video games. And we are fortunate that it is our local culture. It is always in turmoil, always changing. An urban culture made up of many subcultures that somehow end up inspiring the work we do and defining other creators and artists with whom we collaborate on our projects.

What is the secret to attracting and retaining diverse and inclusive talent in the agency at a time of such professional mobility?

Creatives everywhere want to work with people who prioritize the quality of work over other agendas. The challenge is not to attract talent, but to attract the best talent. We no longer compete only with other agencies but with all those other creative industries—especially in Los Angeles—that offer opportunities that are increasingly scarce in advertising. Hence the importance for agencies not to see themselves more and more as arms of marketing departments but to maintain a provocative spirit, with its own idiosyncrasy, where personalities of all kinds fit.

Help us complete this message to the clients of the future: MullenLowe LA is your agency if you believe...

… that your brand has something valuable to contribute to society, deserves a distinct voice that makes it recognizable, and if you enjoy working with people who are not afraid to question the status quo.

Four key campaigns of the agency?

In the “Chiaki’s Journey” campaign for Acura (2022/23), they created an original anime series, “Chiaki’s Journey,” to tell the brand’s story. Acura, known in the 1980s for iconic cars, lost its way in the 2000s by focusing on family SUVs and discontinuing the high-performance Type-S line. In 2022, Acura returns to its roots with new products. The plot unfolds in an anime world, with Chiaki as the heroine struggling to stand out in racing, reflecting Acura’s current position in the market. Uncle Noboru, a wise mentor, represents Acura’s racing past, while Erich, an arrogant rival, personifies European competition. The series serves to convey Acura’s historical importance to the millennial and Generation Z audience.

Watch video here.

In the “Crafted by Passion” campaign, they tell the story of Patrón, a tequila made with dedication and an unwavering passion for craftsmanship. Founded with a clear purpose, the brand highlights the work of agave artisans who expertly craft tequila by hand. The documentary “Our Hands” captures the tradition, authenticity, and sincere craftsmanship of Patrón, showing the process from agave harvesting to the manual sealing of each bottle in Jalisco, Mexico. The narrative is enriched with testimonials from master tequila makers and other collaborators, such as musician Andrés ‘Dre’ Levin and fashion designer Sandra Weil. The campaign, including OOH photography, connects the audience with the true artisans of Patrón, highlighting the authenticity that sets the tequila apart as the best in the world.

Watch video here.

In the rebranding of the Arizona Coyotes (2021/22), titled “From the Desert to the Ice,” the agency transformed the hockey team into the unlikely champion of a more diverse future for the sport. They changed the name to “We Hockey” and redesigned the logo to reflect the true Arizona, celebrating the diversity of its people. They invited participation, giving the local community ownership of the team and highlighting the connection to Arizona’s cultural heritage. The change included a customized typographic family inspired by traditional styles. This inclusive approach gained recognition in awards such as Cannes Lions 2022 and the Clio Awards 2022, turning the rebranding into a more inclusive vision for the future of hockey.

Watch video here.

In the campaign “La Vida Más Fina para Corona” (2021/22), they revitalized the brand with a philosophy inspired by its Mexican heritage. The idea is that living the best life is a matter of perspective, highlighted by the ambassador Snoop Dogg and apprentice Andy Samberg. They transformed Corona’s social channels into a voice for the good life, engaging fans in various topics. The strategy resulted in a significant increase in engagement and social conversations, supported by the participation of Snoop Dogg and friends like Bad Bunny and Zoe Saldana in previous editions of “La Vida Más Fina.” The campaign highlights Snoop Dogg’s laid-back wisdom on finding the good in life.

Watch video here.

This article was originally published on Ctrl here.