[FIBRA Jury] Olivia Walsh (apple tree communications): I'm always saying “forget the box”, it's not about “thinking outside the box”. There never was a box to begin with

[FIBRA Jury] Olivia Walsh (apple tree communications): I'm always saying “forget the box”, it's not about “thinking outside the box”. There never was a box to begin with

Ah, the box. The metaphor for absolute safety, lack of risk and general impression of comfort. Everyone in communications strives to leave the box even though it seems so easy to just si down, spend a little while, no harm dome, right? In this techy day & age, you start to realize the box isn't really there and never was. Forgetting the box illusion is what Olivia Walsh (Chief Creative Officer, apple tree communications) always advises. True for advertising, true for PR, since both need to keep their creative second skin up, running & shiny. 

The FIBRA Awards are approaching fast so we'll get to see who shines the brightest in the local communication industry. Olivia is one of our international judges so let's get to know her before meeting her life at the Caro Hotel next week, between the 3rd and the 6th of May:

Versiunea in romana a interviului se gaseste aici


Your trail in communications and the leap towards your own agency

I have always been attracted to marketing, to the ways we communicate as a society in general. Starting out, my eyes were opened to how important it is that we consider not only what we want to say, but how others will hear it... perception is KING.

Before apple tree, I was in charge of marketing in a strategic consulting firm; advertising, communication and events were all part of marketing. There were very few full-service agencies then and none that applied strategic thinking to communication, so I decided with my partners to create our own company, where we offer creativity, communication, digital, events and, of course, strategy.

The biggest difficulties  - apart from teaching Spanish people to correctly pronounce apple tree communications ;) - probably had to do with the fact that all 3 founding partners are women and, unfortunately, 14 years ago machismo was much more common in this market.


Objectives: yourself & apple tree

My main objective while I'm working in this industry is to continue creating and enjoying my job. And of course, offering fresh and truly useful solutions to our clients.

I would love to see apple tree grow into new markets, something that is already in motion, we have offices in Barcelona, Bogota, London, Madrid and we keep our eyes on Mexico, US etc.

I can safely say that Spain is an extremely creative market, so all of us are constantly pushed; by ourselves and our competition, to be better!


Projects you're proud of

I am proud of all the projects we handle at the agency, our "Chef vs. Chef" campaign for McDonald’s, the new Mini Cabrio launch that we just returned from, or the work we are doing for Nike across Southern Europe.


Something that makes me and all of the agency proud is when we can make a difference, often times that include projects in the Health Sector. One of the recent projects that I am most proud of is "Diabetes Gets a Beating" for Novartis Pharmaceuticals.


It contained strategy, digital, an event and lots of creativity, which is a real challenge in the highly regulated pharma industry. It won in all 3 festivals we submitted it for consideration: European SABRE Awards, and Spanish Aspid and Eventoplus.


Being Chief Creative Officer in a PR agency

From day one, apple tree had a creative figure and approach, it is one of the attributes that has always set us apart. Clients and competitors are beginning to see the need for creativity in their campaigns and strategies whereas we have always believed that creativity and strategy go hand in hand.

I'm always saying “forget the box” because it's not about “thinking outside the box”. There is and NEVER was a “box” to begin with, and I believe the brands and professionals are starting to see that.

Trends become reality and reality today lies in Branded Content. Nowadays relevance is not in the brands themselves, but in the experience they can give to consumers. Users are more clever and choose the content that they want to consume, they don’t want to be bombarded by advertising on television or anywhere else, they are more self sufficient and more discerning.


Festivals. Where do they hit, where do they miss?

apple tree is very selective about which festivals we go for and which projects are put forward, because a good candidacy requires a lot of time, effort and strategy, just like a project.

Festivals are very important not only to show off your work and discover other ways professionals approach theirs; they are also hot spots where you can appreciate creative and marketing trends and meet other creatives.


The award you hold highest on your list

In my opinion, all awards are important because they are the culmination of our efforts and additional recognition for all we did.  However, international ones give you more visibility.


Are you familiar with the Romanian communication industry?

I was in Bucharest two years ago and was amazed by the energy, creativity and “electricity” I could see everywhere. I am also familiar with the “Small Country. Great People” campaign (Graffiti BBDO, 2011 - Ed.) and a big fan of the "American ROM" campaign (McCann, 2011 - Ed.) . A fantastic example of strategy and creativity!


Being part of the FIBRA Awards jury

It is an honor for me being part of this important festival and getting to know first hand the creativity that I know abounds in Romania. I look forward to seeing all the entries. 


A piece of advice for those submitting creative work

Keep it simple, be as creative as you can, and always forget the box.

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