Q&A: Euro RSCG’s Fernanda Romano

Fernanda Romano, who was last week named global creative director for digital and experiential advertising at Euro RSCG, talked with Adweek senior reporter Andrew McMains about her mentors, management style, working in different markets and why she thinks the industry needs to mix its “creative genes.” The 34-year-old Brazilian, who’ll start around July 1 after winding down as a cd at JWT in London, is expected to focus on enhancing the digital capabilities of local offices and create a stand-alone digital unit.

Adweek: What’s the biggest challenge you’ll face in taking this role?

Romano: Not trying to do everything at the same time. It’s a new network [for me], it’s a new list of clients. It’s all new, it all feels so fresh and everything is possible, [but] it’s not very true. There are only 24 hours in the day and seven days in the week. So [I’ll be] trying to focus and really deliver to the clients rather than creating a lot of demand but being unable to deliver.  

What types of people will you seek in creating your digital group?

Definitely people who don’t want to work in an exclusively digital capability. Curious people. People who would agree with me when I say that . . . David Bowie is a brand, just as much as the Catholic Church, Obama and Absolut vodka. . . . For me . . . if a person doesn’t have any digital thing in [his] book, I don’t look at the book. I don’t talk to the person because I find it unacceptable to be so arrogant that [you think] you don’t have to have it. Even in this day and age. You would be amazed. [Also], people who know what Twitter is, who don’t give me the, “Oh, but what do I care what time people go to the bathroom?” Please don’t give me that. Twitter is not “what do I care about what time people go to the bathroom.” Twitter is about somebody saying they’re reading a book and the book suddenly is selling more. Twitter is about Aston Kutcher having more followers than CNN.

How would you describe your management style?

I’m a bit bossy, but in a good way. I’m a bit detailed oriented — probably that’s because I’m a girl. The XY chromosome should explain that. But in general, I like to see that people are being able to do [the work] and I’m just showing them the way. Because I know I can do the job, but then there’s no point in me managing other people. 

How would you rate Euro RSCG’s digital capabilities?

There’s a culture of interactive work. There’s a capacity within [Euro RSCG] 4D, of course stronger in certain markets than in other markets. It’s just a matter of understanding, assessing, helping where there isn’t [a capability] to build one and helping where there is to make that more important. 

What about the work itself?

It’s definitely solid. Is it sexy? It could be sexier, you know. So, that’s what we’re going to try and do.

What three words best describe you?

“I don’t know.” Or, “I want to stay stupid,” but that’s more than three words. I’m curious. . . . I’m not naive. I know exactly what I’m doing and accepting the fact that I don’t know everything makes me want to know more.

Your biggest pet peeve?

That, as a creative industry, the advertising world stopped innovating, stopped looking forward. To be fair, there are some companies around the world that do it. But we can number them on the fingers of one hand. We don’t admit to looking outside our world to look for new things. Instead of getting inspiration from painters, from nature, from fashion designers, we want to get inspiration from other agencies and other creatives. And that becomes a bit insular. The same would apply to genetics: if you don’t mix the genes, you don’t get a stronger race. I think we need to mix our  creative genes a bit more.

What keeps you awake at night?

Information anxiety. Right now, what’s really annoying me is that I found so many interesting people on Twitter that I can follow and the flow of information is so great and so quick and so intense, that I don’t really read everything and I don’t learn everything.

What inspires you?

The street and the Internet, but basically people. For me, the Internet is a way for me to be in the street in places where I can’t be physically. But it’s really [about observing and learning from] people.

Who has had the biggest influence on you?

Sergio Valente, who is president of DDB in Brazil. He has been an inspiration to me because of his passion, his drive. He has this thing where there is no “No” as an answer. The other person who inspires me and is the reason I went into advertising is one of the founding partners of Euro in Brazil, Claudio Carillo. What the two of them have in common is . . . they were always having so much fun doing the work. They were excited about their jobs.

How do you compare working in London with Sao Paolo and New York?

Sao Paolo and New York are much more similar. There’s a much stronger sense of entrepreneurialism. They rely less on the system, so they think they need to be all over it to make it happen. This is much more in Sao Paolo than New York. Sao Paolo is a bit chaotic with very little process. There’s a drive and a hunger in the work. . . . New York has that hunger and that entrepreneurialism. You know, “I need to own it. I need to be all over it.”  But it has a bit more process. In London, it feels that maybe the process has become a bit more important than the work. And definitely London is a bit calmer. “We’ve been there, we’ve done that. We conquered the world and now we’re cool.” It’s a calmer sense. In Brazil and in New York, the world is going to end tomorrow if you don’t do it now. In London, maybe the world is going to end next month, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow.