AKQA’s Eric Cruz on dealing with change and disruption in the creative industry

KD Suarez
AKQA’s Eric Cruz on dealing with change and disruption in the creative industry
‘We live in a time in which creative people are redefining business, taking things from the past, and turning them on its head,’ says the Shanghai-based creative director

MANILA, Philippines – In the arts and advertising industry, those who are imaginative and curious thrive. But sometimes, even the most ingenious writers or artists run out of creative juices.

In this day and age where the turnover of ideas is faster than ever, the danger of becoming a “dinosaur” (or slow and dated) looms over those who can’t keep up with the pace. When new ideas stop coming, extinction is a possibility.

“Companies who are slow to evolve and can’t figure out how to change will suffer death by irrelevance and obsolescence,” says Eric Cruz, current Executive Creative director of AKQA Shanghai, a digital agency that has worked with brands and companies such as Nike, Rolls-Royce, Tidal, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

To stay afloat, you need to embrace change. But to be ahead of the game, you need to define that change, Cruz adds.

Cruz is one of our guest speakers at #ThinkPH 2016, which is happening on July 21 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila, Pasay City. Below, he shares how he and AKQA stay inspired and true to their promise to “create the future” for their clients.

How does disruptive thinking in the creative industry change the world?

Disruptive Thinking is Thinking Different. We live in a time in which creative people are redefining business, taking things from the past, and turning them on its head. The moment we live is perhaps the most creative time in the history of the world, so it’s most definitely an exciting time to be alive and to help the world move forward. Not as someone who goes to work and takes a paycheck, but as someone who sees their job as reinventing the world around them through the small and sometimes big things we make and do everyday. It’s about “giving yourself to the present to create the future” as Ajaz (AKQA’s founder) put it. And this requires the ingredient of curiosity; to be eternally a daily student of life and to live each day stupid, walking in with virgin eyes to open yourself to everything that’s new.

In your field of work, what ideas or milestones would you consider as disruptive?

We try to think of solutions that have a true human purpose; [to] go beyond the hype and the noise and aspire to make work that has true purpose or meaning; whether for the masses or even if it’s only for a few, so long as it creates a positive impact towards that community.

What is AKQA’s formula to stay relevant and different?

AKQA Shanghai has undergone great change in the recent years, certainly with a storied past in China and in the heels of its recent successes with the likes of Nike Rise 1.0 and 2.0 and The House of Mamba.

I started [in AKQA] 14 months ago and we’ve been going through a reinvention of sorts in 2015.

I’m quite proud that we were able to get back on our own two feet within a short period of time, rebuilding the team from the ground up, really taking care of how we define and create who we are through a unique mix of international Asian talent. I try to hire from within the region or people who have unique ties to what it means to be Asian today. That’s quite important for me, because we invest so much of who we are into what we do, and I think it becomes more powerful [when there are] more invested people who are into the culture they exist in.

With new leadership comes new thinking and the inevitability of change. [It’s] a restart to say the least, but we’ve managed to come through the fire and emerge into something new, a metamorphosis of sorts is how I think about it.

What can the audience expect from you for #ThinkPH 2016?

Something to do with how we create our own future.  

Catch Eric Cruz and many other guest speakers at #ThinkPH 2016. Early bird rates apply until May 31. Buy your tickets below. –

Light meal and coffee will be served during the event

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