Chris De Abreu is the Executive Creative Director at experience agency MCH Global.
He spoke to the Econsultancy blog about how he came to work on ‘next-generation experiences’ in the heart of Europe, why success is measured in emotion, and how marketers can succeed by thinking beyond the obvious.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Chris De Abreu: I lead the internal creative team at experience agency MCH Global. The main way I do that is to make people think: inspiring conversations, conceptualisation and collaboration. Essentially I connect our internal people with clients by creating work that delivers magic.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Chris De Abreu: I am part of the Global Team and report to the CEO of our Division, who sits on the board of our whole group.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Chris De Abreu: Primarily I need to be a people-person, so the most important skill is empathy.
Secondly, it’s about ingenuity; to see opportunities you must be able to wear many hats, and understand the various aspects of the different roles within your markets.
Thirdly, you have to keep abreast of the trends: what’s hot and what’s not, and apply a personal filter to that. We create great work because we have strong opinions, and that comes to life through brave ideas, and executions that exude character.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Chris De Abreu: I am a believer in co-creation – an ideological creative socialism, as it were. So it’s important to stay connected at a global level.
Working in Zürich you feel very lucky – every day begins with an Alpine sunrise (and bircher Muesli!). After that my day mainly consists of uncovering opportunities for our clients, finding ways to support them in transforming or making their business successful. That comes by speaking to different individuals in the business, and also getting inspired by work you see, and the places you travel to.
Oh, and I like to make sure there are always good tunes on the office stereo.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Chris De Abreu: I feel very lucky to do what I do: since I was a small child, I was always part of a creative family with both of my parents being artists – coming to this industry felt really natural.
I had to fight to get where I am because of personal circumstances. But that means I really love everything about the creative industries: problem solving to make people inspired is pretty awesome. It really is living the dream.
Some of the negatives are politics and egos – but we all play that card from time to time.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Chris De Abreu: I like to create work that touches people’s lives in a positive way. From a personal perspective, it is about creating work that takes more of a global shape, bridging cultures, races, religion, etc. I’ve very consciously created a diverse team, which is rare here in Switzerland.
When you see that come to life at an event on a global scale – like Baselworld, a traveling popup brand activation, or the forthcoming Dubai 2020 Expo, it’s breathtaking. And when you get to bring ideas to fruition, like in our recent Future Trends report, it’s super rewarding.
For us, success is measured in emotion, that’s the real output of brand experiences. Emotions attach us to brands and products, and that turns audiences into advocates. Needless to say, that it results in more sales too.
My KPIs are always measured by the impact it makes to clients’ businesses and if it touches the audience positively, and emotionally.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Chris De Abreu: People, the internet and my MacBook Pro.
How did you end up at MCH, and where might you go from here?
Chris De Abreu: A move to the heart of Europe, to work on next generation experiences, was a no-brainer. Zürich is an incredibly creative city from a design perspective, but needed an injection of creative bravery – that’s where I came in.
With the current status of advertising, it felt like the next evolution to move into experiences – it was written in the stars. From here I see it as a trampoline to reach the world with our ideas and truly support the local market by making Zürich one of the global creative strongholds like London, NYC and São Paulo.
Which advertising has impressed you lately?
Chris De Abreu: I loved the recent spots for ‘On the Beach’, directed by Jeff Low. It’s all about the power of copywriting, a great script, coupled with Iggy Pop’s dry delivery – it just makes you laugh. It’s a simple idea that lets the craft do the speaking.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out?
Personally I am not a fan of the word ‘marketing’ or ‘marketer’ – they feel very 80s! I think people nowadays are much more like ‘Market Entrepreneurs’. So my advice would be to think beyond the proverbial pigeon-hole position, and expand your ideas of what can be achieved.
Those who succeed in what they do are always thinking between the lines, rather than being stuck to one line of work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and accept what you’re good and not so good at. Respect one another and be kind. It is a great industry that takes you on a magic carpet ride. It’s like being the main character in a Walt Disney film.