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Cristián Jofré

Cristián Jofré
Wants his MTV
by Robin Rusch
January 5, 2004

Cristián Jofré is starting the New Year with a quite an exciting challenge. As the newly appointed senior vice president, creative director for MTV Networks International, Jofré appears to be living a creative director’s dream.

Prior to his appointment, Jofré was marketing vice president and creative director for MTV Networks Latin America, and a member of the creative team that gave the world the award-winning and controversial campaign: "Una vez vi MTV" ("I watched MTV once").


Jofré’ seemed sufficiently excited and daunted at the prospect of moving from his sunny neighborhood of Miami Beach to the rather bustling and sometimes rainy atmosphere of London to begin his new job in January 2004. He chatted with us about leaving Miami, his new role in London, staying young with the brand and his rather unusual approach to landing a job at MTV.

“I was born in Chile in 1971, so I’m 32 now. I’m getting a little old!

Everyone thinks we have a great job [at MTV] but we spend all of our time thinking, thinking. All the time trying to reinvent ourselves. We have to stay in touch with our audience without getting older.

Always, we are studying trends, knowing what the kids are hearing and what the kids are watching on TV. We can talk with kids on a different level than other brands do, because in the end not everybody is targeting young people as specifically as us. We are in touch with the kids all of the time.

Music is bigger than the musicians playing. At least for our audience, it is something bigger. It’s about trends, it’s about the way that you dress, it’s about your friends, it’s about the clubs; it’s about all that.

My background is a strange mix of journalism and advertising. When I was working at advertising agencies most of our young clients would say ‘Oh do a spot in the style of MTV.’ So MTV was always in my mind, and I think for every creative person in the world, this channel is one of the big inspirations for everybody.

In 1996, [a business acquaintance] mentioned to me that MTV Latin America was looking for a creative director. I had had some headaches at the time, and I went to the doctor and they did an encephalogram. So I sent [the encephalogram] in together with my résumé and I said ‘Okay this is my brain, and so this is what I can give you.’ It was a nice [scan], so I think that is the reason that they called me back. Then after that they brought me here to Miami.

I don’t feel that I am a very creative person by myself. I always have an amazing team of people. In the role of a creative director, I understand [better] to hear ideas from other people -- not to put your own ideas on theirs. So I think in the end, we do more effective work [together].

I never felt at MTV -- in my eight years of experience here -- desperate for ideas or something. We always come up with good ideas. It’s a big creative community; there are so many people to show you their ideas and to give you ideas. Since we have amazing talent throughout all the world working in the creative department, I get inspiration from them more than anything else.

I have seen very good ideas on paper put into very bad execution. And I have seen very bad ideas on paper executed very well. I think in the end you have to make a difference between pure art and creativity (which is more commercial).

With TV stations you maybe do one spot a month but here we often do four or five commercials a week. I think our [commercial] breaks have really good ratings all over the world. People are really waiting for the breaks. Sometimes we do promos without any MTV logo on it, and people know it’s from MTV.

At the same time we are very playful with the screen. We are very experimental. I really like the mistakes. We shoot with a lot of old cameras -- from the forties and the fifties. You never know if it’s going to work or not; it’s exciting because you don’t know what it’s going to look like. And then maybe it’s out of focus, and people think we did that on purpose. Then they start to copy us and say ‘Okay out of focus is trendy now.’ The look started as a mistake, so how can you take advantage of this? I think we use a lot of our mistakes as part of inspiration.

I wouldn’t say there was a big surprise [about my appointment to creative director]. It was something that I had in my mind and was something that when Brent [Hansen, president of creative, MTV Networks International] came into the picture, we started to talk right away. I think it was the right move.

It’s going to be a purely creative role. It sounds very simple but I am going to be in charge of creating global messages for all the brands, all over the world. It’s a big challenge for me. Now, I am doing Latin America. That’s only 22 countries. MTV Networks is all through the world. So in the end, it’s a big, big, big audience. In some ways I’m very excited about it, but it’s a lot of responsibility too.

Now I live in Miami Beach. It’s a little town of 17 blocks. I think personally it’s an amazing move, from a very different place. I am very curious to live in Europe and work with Brent and work with the whole team there in London. I am very happy.”

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