News & Views

Meet Iggy Rodriguez, 2015 winner of the Contagious Brand Innovation Scholarship

by Contagious Team

Each year, Contagious partners with the Berlin School of Creative Leadership to offer one MBA student €20,000 towards the pursuit of their degree. This year's winner, Iggy Rodriguez, is a creative group head at Leo Burnett Sydney, where he's worked with clients including Coca-Cola, Samsung and Diageo. Contagious spoke with Rodriguez as he prepares to enter the program.

Contagious: What’s most exciting for you about the advertising and marketing industries and how they’re changing?

Iggy Rodriguez: I’ve seen a shift in existing media relationships recently, which has been interesting. Bringing media back in-house is an exciting prospect that will open up opportunities for creative work to be more impactful. Being able to have closer conversations with each other will lead to more creative media solutions. It’s where it all began, so it’s good to see it come full circle.

Working closer with our clients to help them innovate products internally is another great opportunity for agencies to have more input in a client’s business long before an advertising campaign is even needed. It’s exciting being part of this process and it inherently gives you a closer connection to the product when it comes time to actually marketing it.

What do you think is advertising and marketing’s biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge I see for brands is staying relevant in this ever-changing market and engaging with customers. There is so much activity fighting for people’s attention that it leaves little room for a product message. The difficulty lies in establishing meaningful connections with people who have no interest in hearing from a brand at that point.

If we are to truly change a customer’s behaviour, creativity needs to input more throughout the entire marketing process, not just in the advertising. That way we can deliver people experiences they really need, not ones they’re just willing to sit through.

What does winning the Contagious scholarship and having the chance to attend the Berlin School mean to you?

It’s a huge honour to be the recipient of this prestigious scholarship and I see it as an opportunity for me to continue growing and expanding my skill set. The Berlin School MBA is a personal challenge I set for myself. It is one of the results of a restlessness within me, a desire to never sit still and to keep striving forward.

I hope to gain something that takes me beyond just being a great creative thinker, to someone who can look a few steps forward from where we need to be, identify changes in our industry before they occur, have the vision to act swiftly and lead people confidently into tomorrow.

Can you explain a bit about your career so far, and why this makes you such a great candidate?

I was fortunate to come into this business at a time of changing landscapes. The rise of digital and mobile was already upon us, the focus was starting to move away from classic traditional channels. It shaped me into a creative that knows no borders and has no preconceived notions or jaded views of what is possible. It bred a positive outlook that 'whatever we could think of, we could make' and that’s paved the way for some innovative problem solving along the way.

I’m attracted to this new learning experience at Berlin School because of my willingness to adapt and stay open for what the future holds for our industry.

What’s been your biggest achievement so far?

Some of our recent projects at Leo Burnett have been incredibly memorable. S-Drive for Samsung and Small World Machines for Coca-Cola are two examples of brand innovation that were both incredibly unique in their execution and incredibly difficult to pull off. They took a real team approach to bring them to life and united us all in the process. From the moment the ideas were on paper, we knew they were exciting enough that we had to make them happen.

Personally, I also had a great idea last year that we finally produced in January: my son, now seven months old. He’s a little legend and inspires me to make him smile in new ways every day.

What do you hope to learn at the Berlin School and how do you intend to apply it to your work at Leo Burnett?

I’m hoping to take my learnings from Berlin School and come home with a fresh perspective that will affect positive change in new ways. Leo Burnett has an amazing culture of hungry, young minds that are excelling in strategy, PR, client management and creative. I’d like to inspire a motley crew of pioneers to find new ways of doing what we do, who are willing to challenge the status quo, change processes, disrupt the environment and continue to help our clients create amazing, innovative work.

The Berlin School of Creative Leadership offers the world’s only Executive MBA program focused on leadership in the creative industries: advertising, marketing, media, entertainment, design, journalism and digital. Learn more at