Creative Creative Works My Creative Career

My Creative Career: Pancho Cassis, global chief creative officer at David Miami


By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

September 6, 2023 | 7 min read

Continuing our My Creative Career series, Pancho Cassis explains how he was always destined for adland, what Banksy taught him and why the Moldy Whopper was brave.


Pancho Cassis / Pancho Cassis

Advertising is a family business for Pancho Cassis, it’s in his blood. His father, Jorge Cassis, was a revered adman himself, spending over 20 years at Leo Burnett Chile. Many of his older cousins are also in the trade.

“My Dad would come home from doing funny stuff, meeting celebrities for commercials – it was great,” he explains. “I always wanted to be in advertising.”

It was an influence that was hard to escape. One week his dad would be in China, then he was shooting an ad with Ronaldo, then the next week he was making a Super Bowl spot. Life looked exciting and it was enticing to the eager youngster.

His father had some stern warnings for his son, though. The heady days of advertising were over, the landscape looking hugely different, with clients paying less and less for creative ideas. “I wanted to be a creative my whole life but at that moment I thought, ‘maybe not.’ So I studied economics when I left school at 18, but I failed... miserably. In the middle of the year, I thought this would be the most boring life ever.”

Upon leaving his course, Cassis sat a further exam that enabled him to get a part-scholarship to go and study advertising. In his second year, he got a placement at Grey that changed everything, the creative director at the time being super obsessed with craft and award-winning work.

At that time, Cassis worked as a copywriter as he ”knew how hard it was for art directors.” He loves writing and likes drawing, but in his own self-deprecating words he’s ”not good at anything, but not bad... not the best at anything.”

“Writing, for me, was more interesting because you were coming up with the idea. 20 years ago, it was a bit more traditional than now – copywriters had the ideas and art directors painted them.”

Back in those days, Cassis worked on a lot of print campaigns. Spending days writing up different promotions was excellent training, he says, as there’s no way to mask a bad idea when it comes to that medium. “With craft, you can hide a bad idea, but writing is hard.”

From his placement at Grey, he went on to follow in his father’s footsteps and land a role at Leo Burnett, eventually becoming creative director in 2008. During that time, he worked on campaigns for the likes of Fiat and Miller.

Next up would be an almost-eight-year stint at Lola before landing his current position as global chief creative officer and partner at David Miami.

Choosing a favorite ad from his career so far might seem like a daunting task, but Cassis is fond of ‘Stevenage’ for Burger King [it invited gamers playing Fifa 20 to sign the best players in the world to English lower league side Stevenage FC, whose shirt Burger King sponsored, and to score goals with them in order to win free food]. “That’s one of my favorites because of how stupid the idea is actually... it’s very simple.

“We realized that, in the game, they copy every detail of real life, so why don’t we change something in real life so it appears and we don’t need to pay? That very stupid, simple thought had a lot of planning behind it.”

It was also fairly risky, Cassis says, especially when it came to the lawyers.

Another, of course, is ‘The Moldy Whopper,’ which dominated headlines in 2020. It’s an ad that would divide marketers’ opinion on its effectiveness for years to come. “That’s another one that probably will stand the test of time. ’Moldy Whopper’ was brave, but I think ’Stevenage’ is more unexpected.

“Many of the things we see today winning in gaming have some sort of ’Stevenage’ DNA somewhere in there.”

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More recently, Cassis says he loved Uncommon’s print campaign for British Airways that won big at Cannes Lions this year.

When it comes to inspiration, he finds it in loads of places as he deems himself a curious person. He tells young creatives to look all around and be a sponge. His favorite artist is Banksy, which makes a lot of sense when you look at the work Cassis has produced for the likes of Burger King.


“Banksy likes to hack the moment. Many of his ideas become even more relevant when he’s hacking the context. I would never compare our work in advertising with his art, but they both have a provocation.”

Today is the final day to enter your work into The Drum Awards for Creativity, where we celebrate the best craft, campaigns, companies and people.

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