Carolina Rodriguez, Founder and Director of Dilucidar
Speaking of the winning case from the second addition of the Luum Awards 2022, “Candid – 100 Perspectives on Gender Equality,” – what do you think of gender equity in advertising?
I think there is more to be done on gender equality on all fronts, not just in advertising. However, advertising can play an important role in driving conversations around gender bias and inequality. There are some excellent campaigns out there and they are really making a difference. What’s important is to ensure that this is done in an authentic way otherwise it’s just pink washing.
A campaign like this surely produced multiple reactions, which reactions impacted you the most?
What was most remarkable about the #candid campaign was to see the speed and extent to which companies signed up to pledge to double paternity leave. When the campaign was launched in December 2021, nine MNCs had joined the pledge. By March 2022, we had 28 companies who had doubled the paternity leave. I have never seen change at that scale and speed. So many large companies with big operations across the region managing to implement a new corporate policy together with others because it was the right thing to do. Also, big companies are often used to just doing things their own way and embracing a collective mindset to do something together with other companies takes courage. So, I was extremely proud to see how this played out.
Let’s talk about Dilucidar. Why the name?
Let me go back a bit to tell this story. Before Dilucidar, I had been working with Kofi Annan and I remember once asking him what the hardest part of his job was when he was UN Secretary-General. He said that knowing whether or not he had all the necessary information in front of him to make a decision was the hardest part. For the most part, my work focused on helping leaders and high-level policy-makers have the information they needed in a clear way to facilitate the decision-making process. So when I started my business, I put emphasis on that core strength which was designing infographics that would make complex issues easy to understand, visualizations that would clarify the way forward. And that’s what Dilucidar means. It’s ‘to elucidate’ in Spanish.
Is it difficult to work with such cultural and geographical diversity?
Not at all! I have always worked in a multicultural environment so I can hardly imagine working in a non-diverse setting. I am extremely proud of the diversity we have but it’s because it’s part of our DNA. It’s not like we are making a conscious effort to have a diverse team, it just is that way, we can always do better in terms of inclusion and it is an area we are working on.
In terms of geographic diversity, I love that our team is scattered across the world, from Singapore to Zimbabwe, Turkey to Mauritius, and from the UK to Australia. Everyone brings something different to the table and every project naturally has a very diverse team looking at it. The only challenge at times is to work around the time zones but we also try to use that to our advantage so we can turn things around faster as we are able to pass a project on to a colleague to keep making progress on it while the other’s work day is over.
Do you believe in universal concepts or do you prefer to communicate with local perspectives? Why?
I believe in both! As human beings, I think we are wired to process stories, connect with feelings and emotions in a universal way. This has to do with how we are as a species, the biological, instinctive response and there are many concepts that cut across geographical boundaries, generations and culture. These are the concepts the world of art normally touches upon. The love of a mother for a child, the fear of change, the pain of losing a loved one, the thrill of doing something new, the uncertainty of the unknown… these concepts are quite universal. However, even with universal concepts, for them to really stick and gain traction, for them to become a story someone can remember and retell, they need to have that localized or specific insight. The way stories are told, the meaning of certain colors or objects, understanding local preconceptions and values is essential. I think that in the world of storytelling and design for change, and in the interconnected world we live in, we need both.
How do you see the future of brands in 10 years?
I would love to see brands communicating more authentically. I see a lot of hot air in the advertising space and I think that if we are all really going to ‘walk the talk’ towards a more sustainable future, this needs to change. Just as we see for example, more awareness around single-use plastic and the push for regular people to just make small changes that can add up to drive big change, we need a similar approach among marketing teams. I see a tremendous amount of talent and resources that could be put to better use and I hope the next generation drives a shift in that direction.
And how do you envision Dilucidar in 10 years?
With our unique position as an international team with a base in Singapore, working across Asia and Africa, we are growing Dilucidar to serve companies and organizations that truly want to make a positive difference. The landscape of what consumers will accept is changing rapidly and we envision Dilucidar at the forefront of enabling changemakers who want to lead by example, change their industries, and the world. From Gen Z onwards, there will be very little space left for companies that don’t contribute positively or at the very least do no harm. We aren’t just a communications agency, we are a strategic partner that goes beyond to get our clients traction to make real change. The resulting exposure, brand love, and loyalty are a bonus.