Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Mugdim Šehalić
He was born in 1962 in Belgrade. Since 1984 he has been engaged in marketing, theatre, film, television work, writing and music. He was an actor and co-writer of Indeksovo radio pozorište (Index Radio Theatre) from 1984 to 2003. Since 1985, he has been one of the founders of the marketing agency Tim talenata (Team of Talents), where he still works as a Director, Creative Director and “exploiter” of his own, as well as other people’s talents.
From 1991 to 1993, with Tim talenata he participated in the establishment and promotion of Radio Pingvin, the first private radio station in Serbia, which immediately became the most popular. There, in addition to advertising, he also hosted his own show – a popular talk-show called Complex Personality. He is the author of National Park Serbia 1 and 2, CD Truba… and other stories, as well as the cult television series Pozovi M… ili će on tebe (Call M… or he will call you).
He has starred in many TV and film productions, and was the co-author of the film Tito for the Second Time Among the Serbs, directed by Želimir Žilnik. His theatre project, seminar-cabaret Those things, has been repeated more than 100 times at home and abroad. Along with Vojo Žanetić, he is the author of the multimedia Lekoviti show, produced by B92 and Tim talenata, which was aired in 12 episodes during 2015.
He lives and works in Belgrade.
This year you received the UEPS Lifetime Achievement Award. Other holders of this award are many proven giants of our marketing scene, such as, to name a few: Dragan Sakan, Vladimir Čeh, Miša Lukić, Zoran Simjanović, Ivan Stanković, Srđan Šaper, and last year, the first lady, Nadežda Milenković. How do you feel to be among such company, and what would be your message to them?
I feel quite comfortable and safe, surrounded by such “creative security”, because all of those you’ve mentioned I’ve known for a long time and have had the opportunity to collaborate with most of them, more than once. It’s nice to be in such company, because each of them has made a significant contribution to the profession and each has left their mark. And my message to them would be all the best things on the menu.
We know that you were enrolled in law school and that you “rightfully escaped from law school”. Your life path took you to other places, one of which was advertising, in which you and your “Team of Talents” have successfully operated for three decades. How did you start your career in advertising, and when did you feel that you would participate in it seriously and professionally? Did you ever assume that it could last as long as thirty years, and now, definitely for your entire life?
I started doing this by coincidence, if coincidences exist at all. Dragana Kaucka, then Marković, author and host of a series of radio shows as well as a frequent radio and TV voice in commercials, whom I met as a colleague-actress in Indeksovo radio pozorište, invited me one day to try my hand in radio ads in the former EKO program of Radio Belgrade. She said I had a radiophonic voice, good diction and that I could read ads. I accepted the invitation, tried it, liked it and stayed there. And then, while I was there, I met, among others, Vlado Petrović, his wife Jasminka and Dado Pejoski, the three people with whom, after a few months, I formed the Tim talenata. That was 1985. At the time it didn’t seem very serious or that it would have much longevity, and here we are, and maybe it will last until our entry into the EU – which will be in 2085.
You have worked in collaboration with many top domestic experts in advertising. From whom did you learn the most and is there something in particular that you remember?
Yes, I have worked in collaboration with many and I’ve learned something from each and every one of them. However, if I had to single one out, it would be Dragan Sakan, because those few years (from 1993 to 1997), when Tim talenata was in a sister-agency relationship with his Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Balkans, were the best possible upgrade to the eight years of practice we had had at that time, and probably the best possible theoretical complement to our creative intuition. Apart from that, I learned most from doing, and subsequently confirmed what I had learned from books I brought from abroad, in the pre-internet era.
At the very beginning of your career you became famous in radio advertising. Practically since the 1950s and the advent of television, many have prophesised doom for radio and radio advertising. However, throughout the world and in our country, radio is still very much alive and well, and radio advertising has its audience. What, in your opinion, is the secret of the vitality of radio and why do you personally like radio?
Radio is a nonaggressive medium, which is its advantage and disadvantage at the same time. It’s a disadvantage because in comparison with television it only has audio, without the visual component, and its advantage is that it’s much cheaper to produce programs, particularly where advertising is concerned. And the fact that it’s not aggressive allows it to accompany you wherever you are, without requiring you to focus solely on what you hear. This then makes it easier for messages to reach the subconscious, and, if they are articulated by the laws of the profession, to be remembered more easily and for longer. I love radio for another reason: nothing can spark your imagination better than when you play your own movie in your mind to something you are listening to.
Back in the confusing nineties, everyone in Serbia who had some money and an empty basement, pantry, attic, loft, terrace, shed… when they couldn’t open a TV station, they opened radio stations, for their own soul and for their family, relatives, neighbours, fellow citizens and villagers. The situation has become much more organised since then. A number of radio stations in Belgrade and throughout Serbia have modernized and became more formatted, often with the help of foreign experts. How do you assess the current “on the air” situation in the country and what do you think about the prospects of radio advertising?
My impression is that the situation on air, where radio is concerned, is pretty much well organised, and this has been ongoing for a number of years. It was curious to watch how something that was so wild and unregulated in this country, could relatively quickly be tamed and put in order, while most other things, also important or even more important, are still in chaos. This only goes to show that no previous government, including the current one, actually wanted to empower the most important institutions, which would enable this country to become organised. That was a brief political interlude, and now I’ll go back to radio. Radio definitely has a future, because it is available and one could say “friendly” compared to other media. It has that charming, unobtrusive way of getting into your car, your home, your workplace and of remaining on and present longer than you are even aware.
It seems that compared to other media, even in campaigns with large budgets, radio advertising is rather side-lined. It also seems that these ads are more sought after by owners of small and medium-sized enterprises, than by major companies and public enterprises. Are we correct, and if we are, why do you think this is so? Are the “big players” and large agencies sufficiently aware of all the possibilities and benefits of quality radio advertising?
As far as radio advertising is concerned, it again has a place in media plans, and since it’s much cheaper than TV advertising, and since the market is relatively small with little money for advertising, I believe it will be even more prevalent over time. Radio in combination with the internet, not only through “live streaming” but also through referring to web sites in radio advertisements, gives quite good results, at least judging by our clients’ results. But in the end it all comes down to the quality of your ad, which brings us back to the importance of the idea, of the applied creativity.
You have done, I believe, more than 4,000 radio ads. In your lecture, “Advertising as an emotional trigger”, held last year in the gallery Žad, organized by UEPS, the audience enjoyed your latest ads and those of thirty years ago equally. Your ingenuity and power of transformation are already legendary. However, tell us your secret, what are the ingredients and what is it that gives that “evergreen” patina to ads? For a full three decades Tim talenata has been bringing their listeners to “tears and laughter”.
This Team long ago understood what our “unique selling point”, our USP is. It is primarily an idea, but with two inseparable additions: a characteristic interpretation and good production. From the very beginning we incorporated more than just a string of information set to a musical background into this small, essentially cheap and relatively quick to create form, which is radio advertising. We tried to give each of these small stories that thing without which there can be no good advertising – accuracy, persuasiveness, emotion and good measure, and still make it sufficiently informative. Usually it was something funny, but we didn’t shy away from a sentimental, folk, or sophisticated tone of communication either. The only thing that our advertising was forbidden to produce was indifference. We guarded against this and I believe we succeeded, at least 3,900 of those 4,000 times.
One of my favourite ads you made was never actually published. Tell us about it and, for the end – and we know it won’t be easy – if you had to, which five ads would you single out as the most important for you?
That was an ad for Tikurila and it really was one of only a couple of commercials that we made but has never been aired. I regularly play it in my lectures, when I want to make a point that the client rarely recognizes the best ideas, because they find them difficult to understand, but easy to dismiss. However, no client finds it easy to simply reject our ad, mainly because I have strong arguments why everything is just the way it is, and because, when I recognize a “tough” client right at the first meeting, I don’t shy away from including them in the decision-making process in the important phases of making an ad. If all the necessary preparations and timely consultations are done, then we go toward the goal together, and that is – good publicity, behind which the agency stands 100%, and a satisfied customer, who should accept it as their own and, more importantly, to air it. The ad which I started describing, “Tikurila”, is one of those that was purchased but never aired. However, I do not lose hope that someone there will one day find it and understand what they ordered and paid for, and will finally release it on air, give it media life, because (in the media sense), right now it’s a sleeping beauty.
Here are some other commercials which I’ve often played in lectures, which is why they first come to mind: SVILEN KONAC (Silk Thread – gold at several festivals), PEKARA KNJAZ (Bakery Knjaz – festival version, finalist in the New York Radio Festival around 1994), MA (first gold medal in Potorož), PEĆKO PIVO (Pećko Beer – one more gold in Portorož), BEOROL SILIKONI (Beorol Silicones – one of the most popular radio ads in recent years). I won’t mention any more, although many could find their way to this list, and each is kooky and special in its own way.