Digital Design in Mexico Part 4: Inside TERAN/TBWA

I was in Mexico City recently for a whirlwind trip that included speaking engagements, meetings with technology companies, ad agencies, and interactive firms, a visit at Universidad Anáhuac, and a VFS Digital Design Open House.

Check out the previous installments of this week’s series:
Part 1 – Video interviews with Mexican Digital Design graduates
Part 2 – Meeting the Mexican design community
Part 3 – My visit to Universidad Anáhuac

Friday, October 1

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to TERANTBWA and the opportunity to meet José Alberto Terán, Director of TERAN\TBWA, and Guadalupe Moncebáez de O’Farrill, Organizational Development Coach. First of all, the office is simply stunning – one of the nicest agency spaces I’ve ever seen – from its shōji-esque movable walls that accommodate monthly gatherings of their 250-plus person team to the video totem pole in the center of the office that rises three stories high. And who can beat their dog-friendly work environment?

José’s continued passion for the business is impressive. His father started the agency 63 years ago. When José took over the reins, he maintained the legacy and ushered in a new era with the merger of TERAN with TBWA. Given so much sustained success, it would be easy to grow complacent, but not José. He spoke enthusiastically about how TEQUILA\TBWA, their interactive division, is flourishing under the leadership of Geraldina Jiménez, and José articulated his vision for other divisions such as Content on Demand. What I found most refreshing was José’s keen interest in finding ways to work with our Digital Design program to match talent with opportunity. I’m looking forward to exploring these opportunities more with José and his team over the next few months.

Barbara Martinez, the VFS Admissions Advisor for Latin America, and I also visited with Camilo Plazas, Design Director of Tribal DDB Mexico. While our meeting was brief, we were able to soak up a little bit of sun on the rooftop patio while sharing student work and talking about potential employment opportunities in Mexico City for our grads with DDB and Tribal DDB.

And it was a genuine pleasure to meet Monica Betancourt, General Manager, and Francisco Murguia, President, of Cine Concepto, one of Mexico’s pre-eminent video production agencies. They are incredibly insightful and really understand our industry. They have a fervent belief that Mexico City’s digital design culture can thrive by incorporating perspectives from around the world into its rich history. We discussed the pressing need to create an industry support system that encourages and rewards Mexican talent, who might study abroad, to either return to work in Mexico and/or find ways to give back.

Our meeting was so engaging that we continued our discussion later that evening at a lovely dinner at San Angel Inn, a beautiful restaurant located in Altavista in a 17th century hacienda that was once a monastery which produced an alcoholic beverage made from cactus called pulque. Over some of the best margaritas I’ve ever had and a lovely bottle of wine, we brainstormed ways in which to activate employment opportunities for Mexican graduates when they return home to Mexico. I’m truly grateful to have met Monica and Paco and will work hand-in-hand with them to move opportunities forward for our Mexican graduates.

This very busy day also included a quick tour of the National Museum of Anthropology where Barbara, as ever the gracious host, showed me the Mayan and Aztec galleries. Spectacular! I also met with several VFS alumni to discuss their fledgling businesses and how they could better promote themselves and their work internationally. Lastly, this jam-packed day also included two additional TechBA business accelerator sessions with Ricardo Gómez and Marya Saab from Imagination Films, a CGI animation production company that creates Real D feature films, and Cesar Moheno Pla, the CEO of Llamarada de Petate, a 2D animation studio.

Saturday, October 2

Before returning home, I’m happy to say that I was able to soak up some of Mexico City’s culture at an early morning visit to the famous Saturday Market.

The prolific and magnificent art and design work I saw — in the galleries, in the indigenous market stands and in school-driven student projects — has an appeal that is hard to describe other than to say it’s beguiling. And the warmth and true affection of the people I’ve met leaves me with just one question, ‘so when is my next trip?’

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