Among so many flags, it seemed like one more. But no: the rojigualda that stood out on the sofa where Chanel and the Spanish delegation reacted to the points that other countries were giving us on Eurovision night was not just another fabric, it was a bag. She wore three screen-printed initials: MECwhose meaning is Maria Eizaguirre Commander, the director of Communication and Participation of RTVE. After being the editor of several news programs for the house, she took on the task, together with Eva Mora, of raising the hopes of Eurofans and non-Eurofans and making Spain dream of winning the glass microphone again. They achieved it by recovering the Benidorm festival, with which they launched the motto the festival you want, the one you want. The queen, the tough one, was third in the meeting held in Turin with SloMo and her break dance. In this interview with 20 minutesthe dircom reviews how that success was achieved, talk about the next Benidorm Fest and of The Great Consultationa citizen participation campaign being carried out by RTVE.
It’s been just over a month of Eurovision. Has the result gained entity in this time?Yes, putting things in perspective we value it more. The Benidorm Fest was created in practically two months. The most difficult thing was to generate the illusion, to reconnect with the audience beyond the Eurofans, and we did it. We have also managed to get the eurofan, which had been treated as second-class, back to its rightful position. This year, in this country, the whole world has seen Eurovision. It has been a success thanks to the push of the president of RTVE, José Manuel Pérez Tornero, who from minute zero took charge of the project.
How did they celebrate third place, with mango juice?With a hamburger and a good glass of Spanish wine, the Marqués de Murrieta. We arrived very late after the gala and had dinner lying on the floor of the room.
“We celebrate third place in Eurovision with a hamburger and a glass of Spanish wine”
At the gala there were three 12’s in a row for ‘the queen, the tough one’ Chanel. Perhaps all of Spain thought about those minutes that we won, did the delegation also believe it?I was holding hands with Eva (Mora) and Chanel in the green room and, of course, when they’re going to give you the points, the cameraman stands in front. And it didn’t go away, and it didn’t go away. We looked at each other and said, “Is this really happening? We can win.”
How much blame for the good result is the song and how much the work behind the cameras?When you go to Eurovision not only does the song compete, but there is a very strong lobby and you have to have a brutal communication strategy. Spain’s problem has always been that its song didn’t cross borders, and we’ve done that. On car night someone asked me if I was the community manager of the official Eurovision account, who posted the performance and put ‘the performance you want, the one you want’. That shows that we have crossed borders.
“Spain’s problem has always been that its song did not cross borders, and this time it did”
We were close to winning…We have not brought the microphone by a hair. If there is no war in the Ukraine, the glass microphone would be here. He would have come to the interview with ‘the microphone you want, the one we want’. We are already working towards 2023.
Who is the real winner of Eurovision: Chanel or María Eizaguirre and Eva Mora?Spain and Spanish music have won. The Benidorm Fest has shown that there is a lot of talent in this country. All the candidates who participated have full agendas this summer: Rigoberta Bandini, the Tanxugueiras, Rayden, Blanca Paloma, Gonzalo Hermida, Azúcar Moreno… In addition, Spain has shown that it is capable of hosting a festival like Eurovision and in Europe there are many want us to do it. If this team organizes it, it will be talked about for decades.
“In Europe there is a great desire for us to do Eurovision, they would talk about it for decades”
What the public thinks
Eizaguirre has been involved in ‘La gran consulta’ for months, a transmedia campaign for citizen participation that has taken her to tour Spain with a mobile set. Personalities such as Vice President Nadia Calviño have passed through it; the mountaineer Edurne Pasabán, Hombres G or Nieves Álvarez, among others. The programs can be seen on RTVE Play and on the corporation’s YouTube channel.
In recent years we have brought good proposals, such as Barei, Soraya or Pastora Soler, but the result was discreet and some ended up criticizing the work of RTVE. What has changed?We have begun to take the challenge seriously so that it does not seem like a minor thing, but rather it is seen as an opportunity. It all boils down to a single phrase: ‘The festival you want, the one you want’. Is a reality.
The Eurofans is a tough group, but it has managed to be respected, what is the key?I like Eurofans, they are passionate. The key is to be authentic and I have been. They have seen me serious when they had to see me serious, laugh when it was time to laugh. They haven’t seen me cry, but I’ve cried. Sometimes for happiness and sometimes for disappointment. I have had a great time with them and I think they have with me too. The best thing is that this has only just begun. As a chick from the north that I am, I don’t throw in the towel easily and Eva and I have a dream and we’re going to go for it.
“I like Eurofans, the key is to be authentic; they have not seen me cry, but I have cried”
For 2023, what is the Benidorm Fest you want, the one that María Eizaguirre wants?The future is yet to be written and Benidorm Fest 2023 has everything to gain. Let’s throw all the meat on the grill. What I do have clear is that we do not have to compare with Chanel. Next year will be another edition and there will be another candidacy.
And for that candidacy, pop or another style?This year we came out of a pandemic and people wanted to dance and have fun. I have the feeling that we are still on that wave, but we have to see what proposals arrive. What is clear is that the Benidorm Fest works beyond proper names, without detracting from Chanel, who is a hurricane and she knows what she wants. I don’t know how any other person would have accepted what happened (in reference to the criticism and accusations of tongo that she received after winning the Benidorm Fest). They have not given her anything, she has worked hard and has found in this country an opportunity to make her dreams come true. Her story is one of overcoming.
“Chanel has not been given anything, her story is about overcoming”
María Eizaguirre (San Sebastián, 1978) is currently the Director of Communication and Participation at RTVE. She graduated in Communication from the University of Navarra, she was also editor of the weekend newscast, Telediario 2 and Canal 24 Horas.
Would María Eizaguirre dare to be a jury of the Benidorm Fest 2023?One cannot be both judge and party.
In addition to the musical contest, what else does María Eizaguirre excel at? It is not worth answering that she always carries iconic bags.I am a person to whom you ask a favor and, if it is in my power, I will do it. Once, Eva Mora thanked me for being her bulletproof vest. I think that is a good definition.
What would María Eizaguirre start with in a karaoke?Sailor of Lights, by Isabel Pantoja, which I couldn’t like more; My big night, by Raphael; and Me va, by Julio Iglesias. Also some from Alaska or Raffaella Carrá.
You have been on RTVE for many years, who do you give the 12 points to?To the professionals of RTVE.
You are the dircom of RTVE, where should public television communication focus?In telling that RTVE is all of us and that it should be a meeting place. Hence the phrase ‘The RTVE you want’, which states that RTVE is your family. It’s the one you want because it’s the one they’re going to help us build. In this line goes the campaign of ‘The great consultation, which is a pioneer in our country. We are opening the doors and we are asking citizens what RTVE wants. We also want to bet on young people with projects like RTVE Play or the Benidorm Fest itself and say that we can offer what no one can offer.
Do you see the competition? What can RTVE adopt that other channels do well?Both Atresmedia and Mediaset do many things well. In addition, we are now in times of collaboration and I think meeting points can be established because, I insist, RTVE belongs to everyone.