adobo SERIES: Tey San Diego of Independent Agency Seven A.D. on strategic and creative output during lockdown

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — As part our International Women’s Month tribute in adobo magazine, we talked to ad agency leaders, of which many are women, to tell us how they view the future of the ad industry: what’s the most exciting emerging area, the risk and threats to the industry, and their fearless predictions.

A barometer and dip stick into the ad business as seen from remarkable women leaders, after traversing their business through a full year in lockdown due to the pandemic. Let us hear what they have to say. #adoboSheCreativeNetwork

What is the most exciting emerging area or skill that agency leaders are looking for today?

I think the most important skills today are flexibility and adaptability. Many people hate the word “pivot” but that’s our only choice in a crisis situation. Those who will survive are the ones who accept that change (and its accompanying pain) is inevitable.


What are the pivots that agencies need to make it in the next few years?

Agencies are thinking of solutions they never would have considered before, like seeking new ways to produce content, new platforms to explore, new ways of servicing clients, new ways of earning revenue, new ways of looking at the P&L, etc.

Innovation is one of the positive results of this crisis and I’m sure a lot of new ideas will continue to surface in the next few months.

What is the biggest risk or threat that the industry and ad people are facing?

The effect of the pandemic and the long period of isolation, the sacrifices people take to support all the business pivots, the pressure to grow revenues to recover the losses – all these have a tremendous impact on the company culture and the overall well-being of the employees. Everyone’s churning in more manhours for more work while the cost of doing the work continue to dwindle.

The biggest threat therefore, is the continuous devaluation of our strategic and creative output and I hope that the industry will push for fair remuneration schemes for all advertising agencies.

What is your fearless prediction about the ad industry’s future an evolution in the next 10 years?

We are on the cusp of change, the pandemic year being a “reset year”. I think that the pandemic will only allow us to be more inventive in all aspects of the business. I imagine more tech-driven platforms, more personalized messaging due to more sophisticated analytics, smarter than ever gadgets, more convenient brand solutions (a well-developed ecosystem for drone food deliveries, for example). The possibilities in a tech-driven world are endless but creative storytelling will still be at the core of our business.

Do you have any advice for students who want to enter the field?

Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride.

About Tey San Diego

Tey San Diego is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Seven A.D., a five-time winner of the 4A’s Independent Agency of the Year award. Before setting up Seven A.D., she served as Vice President in Account Management at DDB and Business Unit Director at McCann Worldgroup. As a suit, she won effectivity awards from AME, 4A’s Best in Market Performance, Tambuli, PANAta and YouTube Awards. As an entrepreneur, she took the lead in the 4A’s Best in Management of Business, where Seven A.D. made history as the first and only independent agency to get in as finalist for four consecutive years.

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