Einav Jacubovich (einavwork.com) is a Creative Director at Publicis New York. She was born in Israel and grew up moving constantly — living in fourteen homes over the course of her youth. Einav was named one of the top 30 advertising creatives by AdWeek in 2015. She’s won recognition many times over from award competitions including Addy, Cannes Lions, Clio, D&AD, Effie and the One Show.
I had the opportunity to work with Einav on a campaign for ZzzQuil in 2013 and was very impressed with her and her team. She’s created influential work for top brands and non-profit organizations alike. All of the images in our interview link to her spots. I encourage you to look through her impressive range of work.
Zack Seckler: I understand you moved a lot growing up. Can you tell us a bit about that experience? Did your exposure to so many countries and cultures affect your creative process in anyway?
Einav Jacubovich: I grew up moving every one-to-three years because of my dad’s job. I was born in Israel to Argentinian parents, and have lived in Israel, Mexico, Italy, Switzerland and the US, including San Francisco, St. Louis and NYC. I absolutely loved growing up like this. It forced me to become a very open-minded person.
Advertising is all about tapping into the current culture and different mindsets. My creative process definitely involves continuously educating myself about different trends, innovations and rituals around the world.
ZS: How has advertising been shaped by the current political climate? Do you see advertising changing as a result?
EW: Advertising has definitely been shaped by the political climate, and we see it with new campaigns every day. Our current situation is top on everyone’s minds. In the past, brands were more likely to steer clear of politics. But with tensions running high, and so much at stake, nowadays people expect brands to have a point of view. Even if it’s as simple as, “we should all come together.”
I have felt proud to see many brands spreading messages of acceptance and taking a stance against messages of hate spread by the new administration. From Airbnb, 84 Lumber, Kickstarter, Starbucks, etc. It takes a lot of balls for brands to take such a stance, and I applaud them for it.
ZS: I love your More Behind the Star campaign for Heineken. Please tell us about it.
EJ: It’s been an amazing opportunity to get to work on a global campaign for a brand as iconic as Heineken. In the past Heineken’s global commercials were lifestyle focused. For the new campaign they wanted the ads to focus on the beer itself. Our spokesperson was Benicio del Toro, and in each commercial as he shared Heineken’s credentials, he also gave us a sneak peak into his life. The goal was to share that there’s more to Heineken than its famous logo. It’s a crafted beer with years of history and tradition. And just the same, there’s more to Benicio than his star status.
ZS: Were the concepts for each spot driven by Benicio del Toro or was he cast after the concepts were created?
EJ: Heineken knew they wanted their spokesperson to be a worldly and famous actor. So we instantly had a few people in mind, including Benicio del Toro. Once he was officially cast we revised each spot specifically to him. In addition, once we shared our initial scripts with him, the process became very collaborative. Benicio and our director, Martin Werner, shared their ideas to each script, and we made tweaks together accordingly.
ZS: The spots have a wonderful feel to them and are beautifully crafted. They’re reminiscent of some of Benicio’s movies — The Usual Suspects for example. What I’m wondering is did the campaign set off to create this moody tone or was that decided on once the actor was cast? Also, can you speak about Benicio and Martin’s collaboration at all?
EJ: Once we knew our spokesperson would be Benicio del Toro, we wanted to match the tone of the commercials to his character. So we set out to give the films a mysterious and slightly dark vibe. Hence, we instantly gravitated towards Martin Werner, who’s a master in creating tension, and the moody tone we were looking for.
ZS: Tell me about the work you’ve done for Doctors of the World. What has your inspiration been?
EJ: Over the past three years I’ve produced a number of initiatives for Doctors of the World. The first was during the Ebola outbreak, for which we launched three campaigns. And for the past two years I’ve been working on efforts to raise donations towards the Syrian refugee crisis.
Asking people to donate is always a tough task. We’ve learned that people will only take out their wallets when they truly feel something is urgent and timely. So with most initiatives, we’ve looked to the current landscape, aiming to tack on to a timely occurrence.
In short, my inspiration is just looking out to the news and what people are taking about at the moment, and asking, ‘can we join this conversation?’ At the end of 2016, the Syrian refugees were still in dire need of help, but the US news and media only focused on the crazy elections at home. So we decided to use one tragedy to bring attention to the other. We realized more people were searching about moving to Canada than ever before. So using Google Ad Words we directed people to our website, I’m Moving to Canada, where we shared the story of the refugees who were forced to flee their country. The initiative helped us bring back awareness of the Syrian refugees.
Currently, we just launched a new initiative in which we’re aiming to fight fake news. We’ve been targeted publications and personalities that are spreading hateful content about the refugees, and sharing the real story, told by the refugees themselves. We got pre-roll before videos of alt-right personalities such as Alex Jones, and got a banner ad on Breitbart news.
ZS: More than a Costume and I’m Moving to Canada brilliantly used the negative momentum of sensitive cultural topics and turned them into positive outcomes for a non-profit. Do you see further opportunities for this “advertising Jujutsu” playing out in today’s national atmosphere?
EJ: Definitely, and we’re seeing many brands doing so now. The main goal however, when doing so is ensuring the messaging and brand truly align with the cultural topic, and does not come off opportunistic.
ZS: Your ECD Joe Johnson has said you are “…almost delusion-ally optimistic.” Does your optimism affect your creativity?
EJ: Ah. My optimism has constantly helped me resuscitate ideas that had been deemed dead. But being a ridiculously optimistic individual has been especially helpful for me in my work for Doctors of the World. A certain optimism is needed, a belief that things can be better, when creating work to aid a tragedy.
After visiting Doctor of the World’s clinics and hospitals at the Turkey/Syria border, where I spent five days, something in me broke. I spent my time there interviewing over 40 Syrian refugees, some who were patients and others who were doctors. Everyone I had spoken to had no hope. and absolutely no optimism for the future.
After meeting many such phenomenal individuals, it was clear to me why all hope was lost to them. They’ve experienced hell. They’ve lost their family members, homes and country. But that is why the responsibility falls on people like us — who were lucky enough to not experience such pain — to keep the word “hope” alive for them. And to fight for it daily.
My outlook on life drives me to produce more initiatives towards such causes. Sometimes taking on more than I can handle. I truly believe we can make an impact, even if small. And I hope to keep doing so (or attempting to) in my career.
ZS: What one thing about your industry would you like to change/improve on?
EJ: Individuals in the advertising industry, and numerous creative industries, have a special type of power. We have the tools and ability to share a message to people all around the world, and ensure it’s heard.
To me, that comes with a certain responsibility. Especially today when individuals are becoming more aware and conscious of the political situation around them. We have the ability to help vulnerable populations and bring light to conflicts the general public is unaware of.
The industry is already doing a lot of pro-bono initiatives. The goal for the future should be to work with brands better to get them involved, as every brand as a social responsibility, and a cause they could easily align with and help towards
ZS: Tell me something that’s true that few people agree with you on?
EJ: Mayonnaise tastes great on its own.
ZS: What do you think you do best?
EJ: I’d say my ability to still be excited about everything in life every single day. I don’t understand when people tell me they ever feel bored. Specifically work-wise, I’m a very strategically minded creative. I studied psychology, and believe that good creative stems from a smart insight. Which is what drives most of my concepts.
ZS: What’s a “hack” you use for getting your creative brain going?
EJ: A coffee shop with the right kind of vibe. Specifically Doma Na Rohu in the West Village.
ZS: What advice would you give to a college student interested in becoming an advertising creative? How should they best prepare?
EJ: Be curious about the world. I guess that ’s my advice for any human being. But it helps with advertising.
Interview by Zack Seckler
Edited by Francis Carr Jr.