Pablo González de la Peña

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"'Foreigners' like me... we take nothing for granted": Pablo González de la Peña

The ECD of Accenture Song on why and how he made the journey from Madrid to London in pursuit of creative excellence

By Pablo González de la Peña

Madrid, 1994. Through the window of my Dad's Renault 9, I see a massive poster. It's the best ad I've ever seen. A photo of the world's fastest man about to run a race. Wearing stilettoes. The headline? 'Pirelli. Power is nothing without control'.

I was 14. I had no idea ads could be this good - especially ads for tyres.

I wondered which clever Spaniard had written it. And I wondered if I could get a job doing the same.

Fast forward. My career as a young creative is going well. Much better than I'd imagined. I'm winning awards at Shackleton, Madrid. They've made me a CD. I should be happy.


No matter how well Spain is doing, London is doing better.

Honda 'Grrr', 'Cog' and 'Choir'. Sony 'Balls', 'Paint' and 'Rabbits'. Levi's 'Odyssey'. Lynx '24 Hours'. The Independent 'Don’t Walk'. Xbox 'Champagne'. British Army 'What would you do?' Guinness 'Surfer' and 'Noitulove'.

Can you imagine what it was like not working in London at that time? Witnessing the constant flow of staggering work? Trust me. It was painful.

I had to move.

Somehow, I got hold of Paul Belford's e-mail address. How could I be a better AD, I asked? Amazingly, he wrote back. With priceless insights. Then he sent a signed set of gorgeous postcards he'd done for the Type Museum. I still have them. Thanks, Paul.

I made up my mind. It was time. I resigned from my agency with no job to go to. Brave? Stupid? Both? It was the kick up the arse I needed.

I packed my bags and flew. And somehow, ended up at 4Creative.

The first thing Tom Tagholm showed me was a script he'd just written called, 'Meet the Superhumans'. At that early stage, it had some X-Men style vibes.

"Amazing," I gulped. "Who do you want to direct it?"

"I want the guy who did X-Men," he said. Like it was a perfectly reasonable request.

I fistbumped myself in my head. Finally, I was in the right place.

I was at 4Creative for five years, working with incredibly talented creatives,

Then four years at BBH, where I managed to convince Nick Gill and Caroline Pay that I was half-good. And then Ian Heartfield made me CD and head of art.

If I had to guess what it is that makes "foreigners" like me thrive in London, it's this: we're grateful. We can't believe we're here. We take nothing for granted.

To work with the pick of the world's directors, with amazing budgets, surrounded and supported by incredible talent and with megabrands who create their campaigns in London but share them globally. (Like that Pirelli poster.)

If you are from the UK, it probably feels normal to you. But believe me. It's not. The outsider perspective gives you a passion, an optimism and a relentlessness.

Song London is in construction. And the only way to build the creative company we want, is to have those traits.

A group of people that understand how lucky they are to have the chance to build something new in the most creative market in the world.

When I was finding my way at BBH, I mentioned my Pirelli story to Ewan Patterson, an ECD there.

"Yeah... nice ad," he said, as he wandered off to make some tea. I found out later it was Ewan who'd written it.

Only in London.

Pablo González de la Peña is executive creative director at Accenture Song


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