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“You love Black culture, but do you love me?” >> The BIC Interview with Castro Desroches '16

By BIC CCNY Posted on 05/25/2021 08:00

A few months ago, BIC sat down with Castro to talk about “You Love Me” as well as his new "side gig" as a BIC professor this Spring and any advice for aspiring creatives.

As a student in the BIC Class of 2016, Castro Desroches was already pushing boundaries in the creative space. His final BIC portfolio made headlines in AdWeek for being entirely on Instagram as two giant grids. Droga5 took notice and offered him a job as an art director a few days before graduation. While there, he created notable campaigns for Under Armor (his spot featuring Misty Copeland earned him an Athena Award), Twizzlers, and Google Pixel.

Now Creative Director at Translation, Castro's latest campaign, “You Love Me” for Beats by Dre, is a tour de force of storytelling with profound cultural significance. Named one of Ad Age's best spots of 2020, “You Love Me?” was directed by Melina Matsoukas(Queen & Slim) and written by Lena Waithe with music by Solange Knowles. It intercuts everyday people with such stars as Naomi Osaka, Bubba Wallace, Lil Baby, along with activists like Janaya Future Khan.

A few months ago, BIC sat down with Castro to talk about “You Love Me” as well as his new "side gig" as a BIC professor this Spring and any advice for aspiring creatives.

BIC: Let's kick this off by talking about your recent work for Beats by Dre. Can you tell us a little more about how the spot came about and its importance?

Castro Desroches: When the George Floyd tragedy happened, it made people reassess their role in society -- as humans, as creatives, and the industry as a whole. And so Beats, along with our team, decided that the brand needed to refocus its messaging to make sure the audience could feel heard in a way they weren’t before.

Luckily, we had a truly great director in Melina Matsoukas who championed the idea of Black existence as a revolution against the pitfalls and barriers facing Black Americans. So our concept grew from there. During the process, Doc Rivers, ex-coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, made an impassioned speech proclaiming that the world loves the culture, the basketball, they love everything that is yielded from Black creation, but they don't love the humanity. They don't love the people. That took hold as our central thesis.

BIC: What was your specific creative role in the spot? What was the day-to-day like?

CD: I was a senior creative from the initial brief. This included the concept, art direction and a little bit of writing. I was also able to collaborate with fellow senior writer Steve Horn. The spot was a culmination of the creative, account, context and strategy teams at Translation, as well as Beats by Dre, and Prettybird.

This work was deeply personal and because of that I knew we had to do it right if we were going to do it at all.

BIC: Can you talk through the use of celebrity in the spot?

CD: Instead of showing celebrities as we see them in pop culture, we showed the Black community just living life. It was important to show the humanity of celebrities, irrespective of what they’re famous for. We wanted to show that they're human, not superhuman.
[You can watch the full "You Love Me" spot HERE.]

BIC: So how did you get to where you are today?

CD: It’s been a crazy journey. I went to City College of New York for my BA in Communication Design. I worked as an art director at a few Pharma agencies before going back to City College for my Masters at BIC in the Creative track, which was amazing. I then landed at Droga5 right after graduation where I stayed for about three years. It was extremely challenging and very competitive, but I learned a ton. And now I'm just sort of taking all those learnings into my new role at Translation.

In particular, Nancy R. Tag (BIC Program Director) and Gerardo Blumenkrantz (Professor and Creative Track Director) have been there every step of the way. You really need that energy in this industry, to know that there’s a village that has your back. I hope to give that same energy to the students I’ll be teaching this spring semester.
BIC: As you mentioned, you're currently teaching B3012 Design and Portfolio Development during the Spring semester. How do you plan on bringing your day-to-day as a creative director into a more academic setting?

CD: I’ll be having lots of guest speakers from the industry. We all have very different stories and reference points as creatives. My one story might not resonate with everyone. It also introduces students to different professionals, giving them connections for when they're ready to go out into the industry.

BIC: What would be your advice for aspiring creatives?

CD: What makes you unique is what you bring to the table and what makes you you is what you should bring into storytelling. If I tried to assimilate or just do what I see others doing, I wouldn't be whole. I'd be doing myself a disservice and not telling stories that resonate with me. So my advice is really to channel what makes you, you.

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Our thanks to Castro for sitting down with us for this interview, which has been edited for clarity and conciseness. You can check out more of his work here including a number of high profile spots such as Rivian, Twizzlers, Under Armour, Prudential, Google, Instagram Portfolio, Viral Status, “Ezra” and Mozilla Firefox.

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