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“Build a team that complements your own strengths and weaknesses” — Lanfranco & Cordova on leadership

Creative team Giancarlo Lanfranco and Rolando Cordova on setting up their own firm and giving back to their community

Illustration by Alysa Browne

Peruvian creative leadership duo Giancarlo Lanfranco and Rolando Cordova have worked as an art director and copywriter team since leaving college. Their partnership has taken them all over the world from Saatchi and Saatchi in Singapore, to Wieden+Kennedy in Amsterdam, to Fred and Farid in Paris, and then to McCann in New York. However, it was only two years ago that they decided to take the plunge and set up on their own — founding their advertising firm Lanfranco & Cordova.

The duo won a Yellow Pencil in Spatial Design, and a Graphite Pencil and a Wood Pencil in the Media category at D&AD Awards 2022 for Dole Sunshine Company’s Malnutrition Facts. The guerrilla campaign raised awareness about food waste and inequity in New York City by transforming an old symbol of waste into a new tool to fight hunger. Messaging about malnutrition was  placed on the city’s trash bags, bins and dumpsters, while a partnership with local food initiative City Harvest saved and delivered food that would have otherwise gone to waste.

D&AD spoke to Lanfranco and Cordova about their leadership styles and how they put them into practice. 


Learn to make lemonade

Starting out in Lima where budgets tend to be tight, Lanfranco and Cordova had to deliver results on less, which meant finding creative ways of getting their brand messages across.

“We started our career working in a market where big money is not an option,” explains Lanfranco. “You cannot do 30 or 60 second ads and you naturally take a more guerrilla approach.”

It was this attitude that helped the team come up with the idea of printing their messaging for Malnutrition Facts onto the trash bags that pile up around New York City. The bags and posters may have been removed shortly after being put in place, but the message had already taken on another form and gone viral. 

Build a team that complements your own strengths and weaknesses

A great team is made up of people with an amalgamation of strengths, and it’s important to consider what you may yourself lack when hiring. If your strength is creative, for example, then maybe the best thing you can do as a leader is hire a CEO.

“To suddenly have teams under you is also a big switch from being creative director all your career. At bigger agencies you only focus on doing one thing, which  is the idea,” says Lanfranco. “Now we're the owners of the company, so we're looking at different things. Even though we have a managing director and a strategy director we have to keep our eyes on other things.”

The idea belongs to everyone

Key components of creative work are being able to adapt and productively collaborate with others and this doesn’t change when you move into a leadership role.

“We love brainstorming with our team, we’ll give them a week to come up with ideas and then we sit together, and we test them,” says Lanfranco.

This approach means that the idea belongs to everyone, and their best efforts go into achieving the best results, “With credits on ‘Malnutrition’, for example, there were two copywriters and three creative directors — ideas like these don't just happen,” he adds.

“You always have to encourage people to take a point of view, take an angle,” says Cordova. “When I used to be a creative, I used this ethos myself, but now I think it helps some of my creative team to come up with their best work. I always say, “see it from a different angle, try to look for a different perspective, let's try to be disruptive in the best possible way.”

Pass it down

When you have made it from a place with few opportunities it is important to pass those opportunities down to those coming up behind you. As Peruvians, Lanfranco and Cordova feel that it is important to share the story of their success and inspire creatives who live and work there.

“In some countries you won’t have many opportunities. I tell people, ‘don’t lose the spark’, because I think a lot of people will tell you that you can’t do things, but actually if you persevere you will find the way and you will find your own path to succeed in advertising,” explains Cordova.

Since moving to Amsterdam Lanfranco and Cordova have worked with other Peruvians and provided them with access to opportunities in the international creative industries.

This is part of D&AD's Creative Leader Interview series. Read more insights from top creative leaders here

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