Cristina Trujillo has left Etnia Barcelona, the Spanish optical brand. She had been the chief executive since December 2017. David Pellicer, who founded Etnia Barcelona in 2000 and ran it until Trujillo took charge, has taken over again in the leading role.
According to various reports, Trujillo's departure seems to have been motivated by controversy over the company's latest advertising campaign, “A Bigger Splash,” which was launched in February. The campaign's photographs drew from the poolside imagery and color scheme of some of the paintings of David Hockney, the English artist. A key inspiration for the campaign appears to have been Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which was auctioned off last year at Christie's in New York for $90 million. No other work by a living artist has ever drawn such high a price.
But that painting and Hockney's other poolside works lack the twist that has gotten Etnia Barcelona into trouble. One of the ad campaign's photographs, for example, shows a man in a pool staring up between the legs of a woman standing at the pool's edge. Some took this to be an objectification of women. The company responded in a press release, saying that the “intention was exactly the opposite: to exaggerate and even ridicule the stereotypes which have now been overcome by today's society, although there is still much to be done.” The ads have since been pulled from circulation.
The episode is not without irony. In “Are You Anartist?” – a spot from 2017 in the “Be Anartist” campaign – Etnia Barcelona encourages its customers to be iconoclasts: to “fight for all that is incorrect” and feel “comfortable in the discomfort of looks.” The narration plays over images of figures from the worlds of rock ‘n' roll, sports, art and cinema who got into trouble precisely for what they said or did.
Trujillo joined Etnia Barcelona from Desigual, the original and iconoclastic Spanish apparel brand, where she had worked for 12 years, most recently as chief strategy officer. Before that she served as vice president for the Asia-Pacific region at Precisport, a Spanish sporting goods company.
She had put together a business plan that called for a doubling of Etnia Barcelona's revenues to an annual level of €120 million, with distribution in 80 countries. Last year, the company's sales grew by only 3.12 percent to €66 million, and they are predicted to increase by around 10 percent this year.
More than 90 percent of the turnover is generated outside Spain. The biggest market is the U.S., which contributes about 20 percent of the total turnover.
Headquartered in Barcelona, the company also has offices in Hong Kong, Miami and Vancouver. It uses mineral lenses and owns a factory in China.
Toni Orts, who had been appointed by Trujillo as director of operations, has left the company. Another appointee in charge of strategy, Oriol Bou, is staying on board.
Pellicer says that he has set up a management committee composed of 26 employees who have helped to build up the brand over the years by responding to the demands of their real boss: the consumer. Two of them are Maria Carmen Ramo and Josep Maria Montserrat, whom he has appointed as personal advisers.