'Oil money makes the economy and people's brains lazy,' says BBDO, Moscow's co-chairman and creative director Igor Lutz
of Russia's disappointing performance at the Cannes Lions festival this year, where the country won just three awards. That, he told Contagious, is coupled with a market that Lutz sees as 'risk averse, with few big players performing well on an international scale' and 'not that many people involved in trying to push advertising forward'. A petty depressing picture of Russian creativity, one might think.
But things aren't all gloomy. Economically the IMF reported that Russian GDP grew 3.9% in the first 10 months of 2012 (compared to dismal growth in Europe), and Lutz adds that the ad landscape is changing too: 'Young people are heading to the internet, which will eventually change the whole situation and push advertisers to try new models.'
Although Lutz currently sees Russian advertising as three to five years behind markets like the US and UK, there is great potential, he argues. The Russian government has stated that the whole country, including TV, will be digital by 2014, and was among the first countries to introduce super fast 4G mobile network coverage in Europe.
As the largest standalone agency in the Russian market, Lutz takes BBDO's responsibilities seriously and believes that there are great creative opportunities in the mobile and digital spaces. On mobile, Lutz comments: 'It is low cost and strategic - you can initiate a project for very little money, which offers very low risk for clients.'
However, Russian advertisers still need some persuasion to shift spend away from traditional media, whose effects can be more easily predicted. Lutz believes that Russian clients are 'learning that you can't apply the same set of rules that you would to [traditional] media.
'It is good to use [traditional] services as a solid base, but it is important to experiment and get experience,' he adds. To be successful in the digital space it is 'critical to have a good working relationships with the platforms' such as Yandex
and Russia's biggest social networks Vkontake
Lutz sees BBDO role as a 'platform' that can curate all media services for its clients. This brings advantages such as enabling 'faster decision-making for less budget'. Lutz shares that this requires 'a mental shift for all levels of creative direction, production and management' to create relationships between BBDO, other agencies in its group and trusted suppliers.
On creating campaigns specific for the Russian market, Lutz comments: 'There is a trend towards globalisation, and building one strategy for a brand, but sometimes the mentality in Russia is quite different. Personal values are less important that communal values and brands need to think about how to balance the two. Emotions also play a big part in consumers' decisions - which all makes it very tricky to adapt campaigns for the local market.' http://www.bbdo.ru/