Planet-bpm.com spoke with Marc Díaz Williams, founder of the agency Katapult in Madrid. Created in 2011, no one believed that businesses could grow with advertising in the hard times after the bailout of the financial sector. But Marc, half-American and coming from the financial sector, knew that it was possible with a unique touch of creativity. The young entrepreneur just received the distinction from the prestigious Instituto Choiseul of being one of the 100 Future economic leaders of tomorrow. The CHOISEUL 100 Spain ranking produced by this organization (an independent “think tank” dedicated to the analysis of strategic international matters) identifies the 100 most influential Spaniards in the business world under 40 years of age.
How did you come to work in this sector?
First I had such a strong inclination to work in advertising that my motivation to succeed was very high. I knew that I had to start offering different things from classical advertising. This is to say that publicity on television and on banners are old-fashioned. No one really cares about the ads on television. I decided that it’s necessary to mix brands with strong and lasting emotions like Steve Jobs has done.
But you come from the world of corporate finance, which is more fast-paced and yields higher salaries. Creativity is not important, but rather speculation, information and also being very clever. How have you been able to survive these last few years in a sector where time, speed and money aren’t as big factors?
Well, I was already working some time in the representation of athletes and getting closer in this way to the world of brands by managing sporting talents which are like brands. And in my private life brands have always fascinated me: their life, their impact and their power. I certainly make much less money now and maybe work more hours, but the sensation of doing something really big and having a big team that supports you in creating ideas every day is something that I wouldn’t change for money. I should also note that that we are not doing poorly. We already have 26 employees and an annual invoice of more than a million euros.
You had no idea about the creative world. How did you create one of the fastest growing agencies in Spain?
Because my business partners did come from this world and they contributed their experiences. Together we have created something that is new for everyone. Advertising is dead. This is clear: creating brands happens by creating memories related to the product. We create emotions that help record the brands in the minds of the people. We don’t think that much about musical events etc., but rather about social acts that leave positive memories in people, for example a hospital that finances an entertainment or education program for patients, a business that supports a school or, as we’ve already done various times, brands that have their own theaters. Classical advertising like we still see on the television or on the Internet only succeeds now on the surface. Buses have become the old TV.
Is what you’re doing the same as sponsoring? What is the novelty in the strategy of Katapult?
The main idea is that brands should be present in the activities where we generate our best memories: sports, leisure, culture and digital life. Brands and people should meet outside of their normal use in the personal life of each person. To this end, the agency specializes in different fields: Katapult ADS&CNT, Katapult, SPORTS, SCENA, MUSIC, ARTS TECH and NAMING RIGHTS. For Codifis, a financial society that has a bad image, we bought a theater in Madrid that is now the Codifis Theater. The brand has grown enormously after this combination of culture with banking business leaving footprints in the people that are positive and lasting. In my opinion, private businesses have to fill this cultural and social space that the state cannot finance. This tendency to create spaces with your brand in public life is fairly normal in the United States, and in Europe we are still at the beginning.
It is not that easy. The case of the Metro de Madrid and Vodafone is a good example. In the end the city council did not want to prolong this contract with the company.
In this case it was because the Metro de Madrid didn’t have cool events such as concerts in the Metro, theater acts etc. to fill this alliance with life.
Finally, tell us the capabilities that one must have in order to have success in this sector of “new advertising”.
You should be eager, passionate and very empathetic. You must put yourself in the skin of another. An agency isn’t created anymore to be extravagant or cool, it tries to do something impactful for society, or at least I believe this to be true.
by Stefanie Müller, translated by Hillmann Hollister