Interview

James Swift

28 July 2020

Florencia Lujani’s Strategy Diet 

Contagious asks top advertising strategists about their media consumption and research habits.

(Photo by Simon Launay on Unsplash)

Have you ever wanted to know what the ad industry’s sharpest strategists feed their brains on a daily basis, or what resources they swear by when tackling a brief?

We have. So we’re asking.

Senior strategist Florencia Lujani has worked in the industry for a decade. She began her career at TBWA in Buenos Aires but moved to London in 2015, working at JWT London (now Wunderman Thompson) and We Are Social, on accounts including McDonald's, Samsung, KitKat and Vodafone. She also writes a newsletter, Cultural Patterns, about brands, culture and strategy.

What media do you consume that makes you better at your job or helps you think about strategy generally?

Keeping my media diet as varied as possible helps me a lot with strategy and gives me a huge variety of sources to draw from when collaborating with creative teams. Mostly I read about entertainment, culture, society and futures thinking. Axios Media and Axios Future newsletters are some of the best out there, they're packed with insights and really smart analysis. The Goods by Vox is great at decoding consumer culture, Vice gives some excellent UK perspective. Every time I feel I'm going down the rabbit hole with a brand problem I listen to the podcast At a Distance from The Slowdown, their big-picture thinking inspires me and helps me organise my thoughts. Lately, I've started checking on Jing Daily for updates on the luxury market in Asia.  

Are there any resources that you typically turn to first (beyond the usual ones) when working on a brief?

After reviewing a brief, I usually have a gut feeling of the right approach, and take a little bit of time to develop that into a hypothesis. Once I think I'm into something, I go into full analytical mode trying to find as much proof as possible that my gut is either right or wrong. I check case studies on WARC and Contagious, to see what has worked in the past but also to decide what I don't want to do with a brief. I also check on academic journals, consumer research and industry papers to find more proof points.

When I'm working on a creative strategy, I check on publications to help me find an angle or tension. For example, I'm working on a skincare brief at the moment and have found myself visiting DazedBeauty regularly, it's helped me identify dynamics and common narratives in the category and understand what drives hype and interest. 

Who is someone that you follow for their opinions and ideas?

I always devour everything these people publish: Ana Andjelic, Omar El-Gammal, Lore Oxford, Martin Weigel, Amelia Torode and Tom Roach.

I like to keep my Twitter timeline eclectic, with a mix of UK & EU thinkers, planners from Latin America tweeting in Spanish, journalists and academics working in different disciplines like sociology, anthropology and media. Journalists like Diyora Shadijanova and Sophia Smith Galer always have a fresh perspective on culture, and academics like Dr Crystal Abidin, Rahaf Harfoush and Dr Devon Powers are a great follow. 

Is there anyone or any resource that you think strategists rely on too much that is counterproductive or unhelpful?

​​​​​​​We rely on our bubble too much. I would encourage everyone to have a look at their Twitter timeline and media consumption and evaluate how they could include underrepresented voices.

Every two weeks I host a Zoom call with a group of strategists to share challenges, talk about briefs or debates in the industry

Florencia Lujani

What do you think is the most underused resource for better strategy?

I'm quite lucky to have access to the latest academic research through my MA programme in cultural and critical studies. Being able to access world-class research means that every time I need to prove a point I can go to reputable sources, which clients appreciate. That's why I also value Contagious' monthly Strategist Digest, it's important we remember researchers do a fantastic job for our industry in their own way. 

Is there anywhere you go when you’re struggling with a brief or a place that seems to help you work or think?

Taking a break from the task always help, but talking to other strategists helps me the most. Every two weeks I host a Zoom call with a group of strategists to share challenges, talk about briefs or debates in the industry. It's a small community, made of strategists and insight professionals of all levels. To me it's important to foster these spaces of connection, planning is a solo activity most of the times so being generous to others with our time and knowledge is a small way to improve the industry. 

Office etiquette: music or no music?

Music brings a more lively vibe to the office. When I need to think, I put on my headphones and usually go for this Spotify Playlist, Brain Food, or I listen to movie soundtracks without lyrics (Hans Zimmer is the best, it takes me somewhere else and helps me to think). And when we used to go to the office, I loved Friday afternoon music, hits from the 00s and 10s playing as the drinks trolley makes its way around the office at 4pm-ish. 

What’s the best free resource for a strategist?

YouTube is a great resource. I use it to find documentaries, interviews with experts and analysis pieces, especially if I'm working on a new category.  Podcasts are also a fantastic source of inspiration and creative thinking. Sweathead, Unseen Unknown, Inspiring Futures, I listen to them regularly.

(Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash)

What sort of media/resources would you recommend to someone just starting their career as a strategist?

To any junior strategist, I'd recommend reading The Drum, Little Black Book, Contagious, Campaign every single day. These sites will help you understand what is going on in the industry and who is who, and get familiar with relevant debates and the latest creative work. Also, get active on advertising Twitter, talk to other planners, get your ideas and thoughts out there. It can feel a little bit daunting when first starting (and particularly difficult for junior women and BAME professionals) but it's worth it, you'll learn so much from the conversations happening there. 

What’s something that happened in pop culture that showed a better understanding of people than advertising?

Entertainment and gaming are conquering people's hearts, minds and attention. Through new experiences and engaging narratives, they hook audiences for an enviable amount of time, delivering relevance time and time again. They're also merging into one big industry and its impact on advertising will be huge and bring new exciting opportunities.

If you're looking for insights to super-charge a pitch, competitor analysis for a client meeting or the best case studies for an important keynote, the Contagious team can help you out.

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