20 November 2012
Slaven Marinovic speaks to Droga5 founder about the industry, clients, motivation and the value of creativity
Most agencies have a particular style. The work you do on the other hand is hard to put in categories. How would you describe the style of Droga5? What does Droga5 stand for?
We try not to have one agency style. Our goal is not to become the most creative agency in the world, we want to be the smartest agency. If you want to be smart you have to understand each clients´ business and you have to create work that is appropriate for the DNA of each client. We create a unique strategic and creative approach for every client.
I would like to believe that the only thing that unifies our work is quality. We don't have one account that we hide behind the rest, the moneymakers. We try to do great stuff for all clients and we are proud of our work for every single client.
How do you avoid repetition and patterns?
That kind of thinking is a classic agency trap. Doing today what you have done in the past is a very, very dangerous territory. I am not scared of failure, I am scared of repetition. I always try to push us forward and do what is appropriate for now and not for yesterday.
Can you take me through the process from learning about a problem to coming up with a solution?
Everything we do is about solving our clients´ problems. That is the essence of why we are here. I don't judge work on its creative level or on how much I like it. I base it on the ramifications of the work. Our starting point is always: What will happen when people see this work, will they engage in it, will they care about what this client is saying? Of course, the client cares and of course the agency cares but will someone who is not being paid care about this piece of work?
The best starting point is to find an idea that is grounded in everyday realities and then add creativity on top of it. When you understand the everyday connections between a brand and a consumer, then you can do something extraordinary creative with it. We talk a lot about consumers and where their mind sits at the moment and then think about smart ways to cut through it. A lot of our biggest ideas are creatively very ambitious, but when you strip away that layer you find a real insight from everyday life.
When and why did ad people loose their status of being the go-to-guys for creative
When they stopped solving problems and started doing what was expected from them. When they stopped delivering ideas and started delivering process instead. When they started opening offices just because the client wanted it and not because it was the right thing to do. When people who understood advertising stopped running agencies, when it turned into a commodity.
Was that during the Eighties when the big agency networks and holding companies were built?
It became a problem when it became about the scale of the operation. These massive companies were formed just to be bigger - and not better. The creative output became secondary to scale. That is not to say that every small agency is good and every big agency is bad. There are some big agencies that are run well and that do some great work and there are big agencies that are totally ridiculous and vice versa.
There is also danger coming from management consulting firms like McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group who are getting more and more marketing assignments from clients. Why should clients pick agency people to solve problems instead of strategy consultants?
Every business needs to have a competitive advantage and I believe that creativity is something that can enhance all brands and all products. Some advertising people are the most brilliant thinkers in the business world. They have the unique talent to connect businesses with creativity and consumers. These skills are not taught in business schools and MBA classes. The relationships people have with brands are more than just functional, they are emotional. And you cannot engineer emotions. If you try you will only get mediocre results. I am convinced that agencies and creatives will still be relevant as long as there is an emotional component to brands. Especially in these times where ideas and innovations are key and major business drivers.
Absolutely, you cannot turn innovation and idea-making into science. We are not making nuts and bolts.
Do you think that the industry in general has a PR problem?
Of course, and that is because 90 percent of advertising is shit. 90 percent of the stuff on TV looks like it was made by robots. 90 percent of brands and agencies still treat the consumer like they don't respect him very much. There needs to be more than a handful of agencies who show how effective advertising can really be.
How have clients and brands chaned in recent years?
We see more and more companies that are building a legitimate business by caring about the state of the world "and" the commercial business side. You don't have to choose between giving your time to good projects and being a capitalist. You can do both. You can build a good business by doing good. That is why I feel privileged to work in a creative industry where you can do both, help good causes and commerce. It also helps raise the reputation of our profession.
You're already the most awarded person in the history of Cannes. What drives you and gets you out of bed every morning?
Beyond all the accolades I am fundamentally still the same person that I was when I was 18. I still love creativity and to be paid to have an imagination. I probably don't enjoy success as much as others because I am constantly thinking about what is next. I want to stay relevant. I love to create things that are addictive and contagious and the thrill of cracking something, of seeing great people around you grow. That is a wonderful thing. I hope that thrill never disappears. I love it and I need it. I am sure it goes back to some issues in my childhood but I am not going to get rid of it.
Have you ever thought about leaving the industry and doing something totally different like Alex Bogusky?
No, not all. I don't see advertising as a stepping stone to another job. I am a proud advertising person. I love this industry, I love the potential of it, I love the opportunity of it, I love what we do and I love the people I work with.
I certainly wish I had the brains to be a scientist, that I had the eye to be a worldclass director or the legs to be an NBA star but I will run with what I got. And that is my imagination and my understanding of both creativity and business. For me personally, that is the greatest thing to do.
If you weren't in advertising, what kind of job would you love to do?
It would definitely have to be something creative. That is for sure. When I was a kid I dreamt about being a writer but I didn´t know what kind of writer I exactly wanted to be. Fortunately, advertising found me. I was very lucky to find a job that would legitimise my curiosity and my love for ideas. I still like solving problems after all those years. I love solving lateral thinking puzzles in my free time. For me, that is fun. I cannot slow down time but as long I feel like progressing intellectually and creatively I will continue.