We, as an industry, need both regional and international recognition to do what we do well

Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian

By: Ekrem Dupanović

Immediately after the completion of the Cannes Lions Festival, I visited both agencies in the region that managed to tame as many as seven Cannes lions this year – New Moment Belgrade and Grey Ljubljana. Yesterday, I brought you the story about the atmosphere from Belgrade, and today I’m talking with Špela Žorž, director of the agency of Grey Ljubljana, about what the awards from Cannes mean to them. To be honest, I opted for the trip to Belgrade and Ljubljana so quickly partly in order to get a boost myself; to refill with the positive energy that everyone needs, especially in the advertising industry.

When I first interviewed Špela Žorž at the Sempl in Portorož in November, she said that four years earlier, when she took over the office, the Grey HQ gave her full liberty to run the agency as she sees fit: “Do what you think is best” they said, and she listened. Since then, Grey Ljubljana has increased its number of employees, this year it was proclaimed the Agency of the Year at the SOF, and now they have brought two lions from Cannes.

MM: Now after the first impressions have settled in, what it feels like to come to work and see those two Cannes Lions in the agency?

Špela Žorž: The first few days after winning the awards were emotionally very intense. The initial euphoria quickly settled down, and today we are again on our old rails – we are working hard and trying to achieve great projects together with our clients. It’s extremely nice to come to work knowing that we have fulfilled our goal. It is good to know that we are on the right track. At the same time, we remain realistic, firmly standing with both our feet on the ground, because we know that there is a lot of hard work ahead of us.

MM: How did the employees react? Have you noticed a rise in optimism among them? Was there that notion: Yes we Cannes?

Špela Žorž: It is difficult to describe the emotions of people in the agency. Some did not believe, there were those who cried, others cheered and laughed. It is certain that the Lions have raised the level of motivation and ambition in the agency, but at the same time they brought great responsibility to our shoulders. All of the Grey people in Ljubljana are aware of this.

In our view, Golden Drum is one of the most important regional festivals with an exceptionally credible jury

MM: Somehow it coincided that immediately after the Cannes, Grey Ljubljana had a visit from Alain Groenendaal, CEO of Grey Europe. What were his comments to your success in Cannes?

Špela Žorž: Alain was delighted! He took over as CEO of Grey Europe at the beginning of the year, and one of his goals was to increase the number of European agencies that will reach for the Cannes Lions. He succeeded in that, as this year as many as six Grey agencies in Europe won the prestigious awards. He was especially pleased with the fact that Slovenes, as a small country, stood side by side with the biggest players. Namely, Alain spent most of his life in Latin America, where the countries are also small (at least some of them), as well as the agencies. That’s why he better knows how to appreciate the success of a small agency when it succeeds to score such a big hit, because he knows how hard that is to achieve.

MM: Your client, A1, reacted in a very original and unusual way. They brought you a concrete lion, weighing almost 200 kg, made especially for Grey. Now it stands guard at the entrance to your agency.

Špela Žorž: I think we rejoiced more for the concrete lion than the metal ones from Cannes.

What A1 team showed by this act is more powerful than all the words, thanks and messages. You must know that they brought that lion on their hands in front of our entrance, in the middle of the night, while rain was pouring outside. The lion weighs about 200 kg, when we wanted to move it, we couldn’t do it! To do something like that you have to have a big heart and a boundless mind. Team of A1 has all that in abundance. And that is why it’s so nice to work with them.

MM: This year you were the Agency of the Year at SOF, you won two Lions in Cannes. Next is Golden Drum…

Špela Žorž: Definitely. Golden Drum is in our view one of the most important regional festivals with an extremely credible jury. Bearing in mind that this is a strong international competition in the competition part, we very carefully choosing which works we will enter for the competition. In fact, the method of selecting the works, which we apply for the Golden Drum, is similar to that for Cannes – the quality is always ahead of the quantity.

MM: It’s still early to talk about this, but are the ambitions for the next Cannes growing? A few days ago in Ljubljana, you told me, half-jokingly: “Next year we’re aiming for gold”.

Špela Žorž:

It’s hard to talk about that. It is certain that we want to repeat the success in Cannes and further enrich it. Whether we will succeed in that next, or some other year, depends on several factors. Ambitions exist, and we don’t hide them at all.

Lately there is much talk about the commercialization of Cannes, as the most prestigious advertising festival. I partially agree with everything written. On the other hand, as an industry, we need both regional and international recognition to do what we do well. Cannes is certainly one of the most prominent festivals and it enables exactly that. So I think that every agency in Slovenia, or in the region, should have such ambitions – the ambition to overcome the national frameworks of advertising standards and aim for achievements that can measure with the best in our profession.