In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Campaign US is spotlighting Hispanic executives from across the industry. This interview with Gian Carlo Lanfranco, co-founder and chief creative officer of L&C NYC, has been lightly edited.
What is it like to be a Latino/Hispanic in the advertising industry?
I feel really proud to represent my Peruvian and Latin American roots in such a competitive market like the US. Being South American definitely gives me a different perspective when facing creative challenges.
When I grew up in Lima the situation wasn’t ideal, so I was constantly pushed to find creative solutions to overcome daily challenges. That’s a reality that many South American people face. It’s also what happens in our industry. There is no ideal brief or perfect situation. We need to find solutions and tackle business problems for our clients, and we do it fast, with passion and positivity.
How has it changed since you first started?
My first overseas creative job was at Saatchi & Saatchi in Singapore, more than 15 year ago. It was really rare at the time to see South Americans in different markets in our industry. I noticed a lot of interest in our culture; it was still mysterious.
Now, things have changed. We are a big part of the advertising industry. Hispanic people are leading the most exciting brands and agencies, producing inspiring work and that’s again a testament to our hard work and creative passion.
How would you like to see brands honor Hispanic Heritage Month this year?
Companies are already honoring our culture, not just by telling Hispanic stories in their advertising, but by giving Hispanic people the opportunity to lead and have an important voice. That’s really a great thing, because the work gets better, more relatable and richer when different cultures are part of the process.
There are many authentic stories and customs from our heritage that can be showcased this month, from recipes to music, to giving Hispanics the opportunity to share their personal stories and showcase their craft.
Where has the advertising industry made progress with diversity and inclusion? What still needs to be done?
There’s definitely an improvement in diversity and not just with our Hispanic culture. The industry has changed for the better in the past 3 years. Of course, there’s a lot to keep improving.
At L&C, we make sure our agency not only has a diverse strategic and creative approach, but also that diversity is at the core of our production chain. From directors, to editors to music composers, diversity and representation exist at every stage of creating a campaign. Our clients really value this, because it does make the work better and gives equal opportunity to great talent that might have not had the exposure.
What is something you love about your culture?
Positivity, resilience and that we always try. We never give up without trying.
How would you like to see your culture represented in the industry and by brands?
There was a time when brands portrayed our Hispanic heritage only with Mexican-inspired clichés, and that was really insulting. There are over 20 Hispanic countries with extraordinary, millenary cultures that our industry can represent more honestly. Brands today are aware of this, and you see more real Hispanic stories portrayed and embraced in our industry as well as in movies and shows.
We are all humans. Strong creative pieces can speak to multiple audiences if they are portrayed with reality and dignity, and avoid cultural stereotypes.