Executive director of the Art Directors Club of Europe Festival Mercè Segú explains how this year’s conference is “focused on the essence of creativity”
This Friday and Saturday (November 8th-9th), the ADCE European Creativity Festival will fill Barcelona’s Disseny Hub with designers and creatives from across the continent for its sixth year in a row of inspirational talks, hands-on workshops, and networking opportunities.
Each year the ADCE appoints a curator to build a programme based around a theme. And this year’s choice is Fernanda Romano, executive director of digital channels at Brazilian agency Alpargatas S.A. She has set the theme as ‘People for Tomorrow’. “Tomorrow belongs to all of us, but it needs to be created, protected and nurtured by all of us,” she said in her curator’s statement. “Companies will only thrive when they understand that they live in society and not in spite of it.”
To find out more about what we can expect from the Festival, LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with its executive director, Mercè Segú.
LBB> Can you talk about your personal connection to the ADCE? How did you first get involved?
Mercè> I’ve been collaborating with the ADCE since 2006, when the European network headquarters moved to Barcelona. I used to work at Ogilvy as an account director and the ADCE was a perfect change for me after almost 10 years in the agency. A lot of things have changed since then. We changed the location of our headquarters, we have increased our activity and since 2014 we have organised the ADCE Festival, together with the judging of the ADCE Awards, the iconic activity of our organisation.
LBB> What makes the ADCE Festival different to other creative conferences for you?
Mercè> The ADCE is an association of the European creative clubs and we created the ADCE Festival as a place for us to meet, exchange and get inspired once a year. Another special feature is that we choose a topic every year and all speakers and talks are aligned with this topic. We select the topic based on the relevant aspects that the creative community wants to tackle. In previous years the topics have been more centred on the influence of technology in the creative sector and this year we are more focused on the essence of creativity.
LBB> Building on previous years, what were your priorities for the festival this time around?
Mercè> As I said, after talking about technology and creativity, this year we wanted to centre our discussions on the role of creativity beyond a commercial purpose. The world faces many different big challenges and society as a whole is looking for new solutions.
The creative community has a strong power to be one of the sectors that can lead this change. Companies need people who can think on new solutions starting from the beginning. Designing new and sustainable products, communicating with a new language and having influence over new behaviours. This is the reason why this year we want to celebrate these people who are already working for a better tomorrow, in many different aspects.
LBB> What guided the decision of choosing Fernanda Romano (executive director of digital channels at Alpargatas S.A.) to curate this year's festival?
Mercè> Fernanda came two years ago as a speaker and since then we had a strong relationship. She was also involved in one of our programs as mentor, the Creative Incubator, and when we thought about the topic we thought she was a perfect candidate, as she has always been very sensitive and involved in the role of creativity in the society.
LBB> Her chosen theme is 'People for Tomorrow'. Why is 2019 the right year for this theme?
Mercè> The topic also came because of the work implemented in 2018 with in the Creative Incubator program: it is like a think tank where creatives from all around Europe and beyond discuss on specific topics. Last year the topic was "new business models" and after working on this issue, we came out, together with Creative Incubator director, Jamshid Alamuti, that the topic about how to use creativity to solve real world problems
was definitely appropriate for next year's Incubator programme. Once the decision was made, we realised that the industry started to explore the same topic, bringing it into the spotlight.
LBB> What question are you most interested in finding answers to in the festival's programming?
Mercè> This year we are going to hear a lot of personal experiences from the speakers and I'm very curious about that. The majority of the speakers will share with the audience projects that they achieved in their personal lives that influenced, in a very positive way, the rest of their work back at their agencies. I think the audience will be really inspired by the speakers who are very convinced of the important role of creatives leading companies or projects with sustainability or integration in the core of the business and how they are successful in such an approach.
LBB> What do you want creatives to walk away from the festival feeling / knowing that they didn't have before?
Mercè> Our purpose is to convince the creative community that they can be empowered to lead the change. The world needs new solutions, new products, new business committed to build a better world and creatives are a very important part of this.