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AMBASSADOR

AMBASSADOR

Angela Natividad
CCO and Co Founder
Hurrah.gg
France

BIOGRAPHY

Angela Natividad is the co-founder of Hurrah.gg, a creative agency 100% dedicated to esports and gaming.
She also writes for Muse by Clio, and is co-author of Generation Creation: Creativity in the Age of Everything. She’s worked in advertising and ad journalism longer than tweens have been alive.

-After a degree in mass communication and working in creative agencies and writing about creativity, what made you want to start your own esports and gaming creative agency?
It’s a roundabout story. This isn’t something I expected or planned, which is often how the best things in my life have happened.
I was bored in college, and didn’t like school much. A friend wanted to organise a huge LAN for Halo, and try selling this complete event to Microsoft. He asked if I’d be willing to do the marketing strategy. I said okay, it seemed like a fun experiment, and we spent a year or so working on that together. Then he went off to sell it and I never followed up; I only found out, recently, that this went well, Microsoft loved it, and he’s worked on their gaming team for many years since!
After that, for years I followed the data around esports and watched it grow to massive proportions. I was surprised nobody on the outside could see it, but didn’t know what to do with this information. Years later, at Darewin, where we worked at the time, Mathieu Lacrouts and I were watching matches on Twitch and talking about how esports is so big, but also so insular, and there was just no advertising. Nobody understood who the fans were or why they mattered.
He asked if I wanted to try making something out of it. I said okay; there was a need, we were well-trained in entertainment advertising, it was worth a shot. The problems inherent to esports today were also compelling to me—issues with diversity, structuring, IP, stereotypes about who gamers are and what esports represents in the larger cultural story.
The rest unfolded in ways I could never have predicted. I am continuously surprised by what we’ve managed to carve out with Hurrah, knowing that it all started with just a few banal conversations—the kinds you have with friends all the time, over drinks.
-Are you yourself a gamer? What is your favourite game and character and why?
I’m among the few people at Hurrah that doesn’t game within esports specifically on a regular basis, even if I love the lore, culture and business. I like meditative, solo worlds: No Man’s Sky is the game most people make fun of me for playing, hahaha. And I loved Pokémon Go until I captured Pikachu, then the spell was broken and I moved on.
The games that most impacted me recently were the Monument Valley series. I like their fragmented, dreamlike nature. I like Ida, the fact that you barely know anything about her but can feel her trying to work out what’s happened to her world in this abstract journey. Solving the challenges is about perspective; you’re working against your first impressions and trying to capture a larger viewpoint that unlocks each resolution. It’s a lot like life.
I also liked the dystopic, fairy-tale quality of Transistor—Red’s journey, and her intimate, strange relationship with the narrator.
-In an interview I read you said : “Creativity is a demand for every job, not just the creative department…. Creativity belongs to all, and we should celebrate it in whatever form it takes, whatever the role.” Do you think this is often forgotten in advertising agencies and creativity is mostly associated with the creative departments?
Yeah. The economic exploitation of creativity is often mistaken for creativity itself. Because ad agencies made “creativity” a department, we forget it’s a survival mechanism that expresses itself in different ways beyond conception for pitches, and it’s critical to everyone’s roles and growth, not just “creatives”.
When you treat art directors and copywriters like they’re the only creatives in a company, you create a hierarchy where everyone is working to support them, because advertising is a “creative” industry. What this cultivates is a single entitled department, strife between “creatives” and other specialists, and the notion that fresh thinking is required only of creatives; no one else has the right. This is something we’re working to break down. Lots of people have great ideas that merit development and recognition. And great creative work thrives on a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, knowledge bases and passions. It thrives on curiosity.
-Regarding your creative leadership, how do you think you can get the best out of a creative team? What tips or methods do you use to encourage the people that you work with?
Be a good listener. Clarify what’s required—sometimes clients don’t know what they want, so provide benchmarks or deliverables that steer them toward clarity and provide a basis on which they can measure your success. On the same note, teams work more efficiently when everyone’s role in a project is clear, as well as the expectations of them and when their deadlines are.
Deadlines and clear expectations are critical. It’s not only the client who needs to be able to measure an agency’s performance; it’s us, too. Where are our weak spots? How do we fix them for next time? Were our values respected throughout the process? Where did we shine? You can’t answer these questions in a productive way unless the rules of engagement are transparent from the outset.
One last thing we’ve discovered recently: my opinion as a leader isn’t more important than other opinions that are rarely cultivated. We present our first pitch ideas to everyone in the agency; if they don’t immediately get it, it doesn’t make sense to share with clients, or a whole community. Lastly, we’ve started requesting evaluations not only from clients but also from collaborators and suppliers. We’ve found illuminating information on how we can work better across the board. These people often see organisational failures we miss.
In this fuller context, my role as a creative leader is to make sure these different verification points are honoured and integrated without derailing or stalling the entire process. My job is mostly to make sure people understand the standard we’re trying to maintain, and have the tools, knowledge and freedom required to ensure those standards are met—and that they also evolve in a way that’s in the client and community’s best interest.
-You also write for Muse by Clio, a content platform devoted to creativity. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I try to avoid reading the PR before looking at the work. I want to feel the work the way people will experience it, insofar as I can. Then I look at the PR to understand the intentions, and try to gauge whether those intentions matched what I got out of it, and why or why not.
Inspiration is simple: We’re all hoping to be captivated, seduced, surprised, inspired. But we also need reassurance and a solid sense of grounding. We hope to find something that helps us connect more dots in our minds about how the world works, or could; or who we are, or could be. I like work that articulates something that’s been loose and unclear in my mind, dropping in a last puzzle piece of understanding. Or work that sets my mind on fire, seeking connections elsewhere—work that’s part of a larger context I didn’t realise was a cogent thing. I like work whose goal isn’t simply to make us feel like bad people, or ugly, or like we need to fill a hole. That’s lazy and irresponsible advertising. Great work should open you up, not shut you down.
-Do you remember what surprised you most when you moved from the US to Paris?
Everything! I think people underestimate the degree to which moving to a place is different from being a tourist. You’re setting roots down, not having a parenthetical experience that’s separate from your real life. So the challenges are unique: In Paris, people would complain as a form of social engagement, which was exhausting because I was educated in this very American school of “complainers deserve their lot.”
But true facetime with people—real relationships with friends and family, making time for them and prioritising them, and also making time for yourself—is a greater value here than in the States, where so much of my value felt primarily tied to my performance in a marketplace. It was difficult for me to change my internal metric system, to say “making this time doesn’t make me a less dedicated professional.”
The last thing that surprised me was learning how much social relationships, and even language, are informed by the shared reference and moments people grew up with. To wit: In the U.S. we’ve got cultural references like “Princess Bride,” which everybody my age loves and remembers; you can catch a “Princess Bride” reference instantly. It’s one of our generation’s treasures and points of orientation. My husband thinks that movie is lame, which almost made me want to leave him—haha!
But the French have references like “Dikkenek” or “La Cité de la Peur,” which didn’t resonate with me in the same way. And I often miss the way these pop culture items inform tribal conversation, and even the evolution of language and engagement, among French people my age. I wasn’t there when they first struck their chord, and that’s something that will always make me different within my social circles here. It’s a small but meaningful example, especially in advertising, which relies heavily on relatable codes, past and present, to convey messages quickly.
-Have you thought about what you want your legacy to be? Or how you would like people to remember you?
It’s probably a pipe dream to hope in any meaningful way for your own immortality in others’ minds. Life is death and change; everything is just passing through for varying lengths of time. But sometimes you add a thread that matters in larger stories that transcend you.
I hope my contributions matter in a way that is positive to those around me—in ways that help others grow, or invite an optimistic sense of openness or possibility that ripples outward. I hope my contributions get people to ask questions, to more closely investigate our social norms and engagements, so many of which happen on auto-pilot.
If that’s the difference I’m making, then it’s okay if this generation or the next one doesn’t necessarily attribute it to me. What matters are my threads, not my name.
-Do you have a favourite quote/slogan/motto?
I have a few!
“There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum.” — Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems
“Companions, the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators, the creator seeks—those who write new values on new tablets. Companions, the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.”—Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
“Make ’em think you’ve got balls bigger than your head. Then show them you’ve got brains even bigger than your balls.”—My dad
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