Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Dejan Letić
Photo by: Nebojša Babić
He is a man whose career is riddled with projects, consulting, marketing, media and all that “seasoned” with social engagement, and it has been going on for three decades. He received and gave awards. As an author and co-author he has published a number of publications. He currently lives and works in Belgrade. He is the owner and creative director of AgitPROP agency. Lazar Bošković describes himself as a creative from the shadows, because you have seen or heard many of his works, and never knew who their author was.
Lazar is 50 years old. He came to the media world in 1987 as a journalist for Index 202 radio. Between 1989 and 1996 he worked as a writer and producer of Index Radio Theater. He is the author of about 50 scenarios for radio and TV shows. In 1992 he wrote the script for the TV series Compromise on NTV Studio B. He gained his first marketing experience in 1992-93 with Saatchi & Saatchi. He founded the marketing agency AgitPROP in 1993, where he is still the creative director. He was an associate for satirical magazines in the nineties. After 2000, he worked at Radio Index as the creative director and member of the board, then the co-owner until 2009. Since 2004, he is the marketing manager at EUnet. From 2006 to 2009 he was deputy chairman of the Program Committee of the RTS. Since 2001, as the author of websites, he won about 20 awards.
Media Marketing: The reason for this interview was your appointment to the Steering Board of the Association of Serbian Market Communications – UEPS. How do you see yourself in that role?
Lazar Bošković: When I was an UEPS Board member for the first time from 2004 to 2007 I was elected as a representative of the then new medium – the Internet, because at that time I was the marketing manager at EUnet. Today, Internet is the “old” media, more than equal with the others. I hope that in the division of responsibilities within the Board, I will be tasked to take care of the new strategy of Internet presence of UEPS, where there is a lot of demanding, but also creatively grateful work.
Media Marketing: During the nineties you were also the author of the famous Index Radio Theatre. What’s the first thing you remember when you hear the word Index?
There are no more free media in Serbia. To be honest, there never was in the truest sense of the word. There were always only oases of freedom, smaller groups or individuals in some editorial boards
Lazar Bošković: The former student radio program Index 202 – part of which was the Index Radio Theater – gave the Serbian media and marketing scene incredibly familiar names. I was lucky that this first media engagement of mine came to fruition in the still happy period of transition from the eighties to the nineties, when both the editorial board, and the Radio Belgrade, were the meeting place of free-minded and creative people. A fortunate circumstance for me, and for other colleagues from my present profession, was that the former Saatchi & Saatchi was located some 200 meters down the Hilindarska street. I was introduced to the studio of Dragan Sakan and the world of advertising by Voja Žanetić, my dear marketing guru. And it’s great when the apprentice learns the craft from the greatest masters, both on the radio and in the agency.
Media Marketing: More than 20 years have passed since. Would you do such a radio or TV show even today?
Lazar Bošković: Yes, but where? Where could you broadcast an uncensored and non-auto-censored satirical show? There is no free media in Serbia today. Frankly, there never were in the full sense of the word. There have always been just oases of freedom – smaller groups or individuals within some editorial boards. And the media themselves, as companies in the media market, depended, to a lesser or greater extent, on some external influence. “Influence”, translated into Serbian, means “source of money”, regardless of whether the source is domestic or foreign. Unfortunately, often the big media names ignore the lack of true freedom in their own media, as long as there is enough “carrots”. Only when the “stick” gets put to use, then they start to swear in the same independence of editorial policy that they themselves so often trampled. That’s why we got where we are, after 20 years of slavish behavior of the media towards the sources of money.
Media Marketing: How did you decide to start your own agency business in 1993? Those were the years of war and inflation.
Lazar Bošković: Because of inflation, believe it or not … My former copywriter’s fee of some 300 deutschmarks, while it arrived to the payment in dinars through a bank, which usually took 7 to 10 days, god eaten up by inflation to only about 50 deutschmarks. Regardless of several parallel jobs, with studying, the shortfall was obvious. As a student from the provinces, I had no parental resources to compensate for such losses from month to month. So, at the proposal by a friend, I came up with the idea to start my own company. It seems that people – from the business point of view – are divided into two groups: entrepreneurs and employees. My first “solo business” came five years before I founded the agency. I realized back in 1988 that people were massively buying VHS video recorders, that they had no idea about technology and that they were bad with English language in user manuals. I translated manuals, typed them on a typewriter, photocopied them, and came in front of a store that sold VHS recorders. I sold them for the change that the people were left with after their purchase.
In a week I had made 1,000 deutschmarks! Not bad for a beginner, amateur, student. Marketing analysis shows that I had done everything by the book, although then I had no idea that this was marketing. I felt the need of the market, I made the required product, I defined the right price for it, I took position at the sales place and all the elements were there. And what about promotion? Only my words. A lady comes out with a freshly purchased VHS, I offer her translated instructions, and she says: “Young man, I am a teacher of English language, I do not need that!” I retort: “Ma’am, you may know Shakespeare, but this is Philips”, and she of course buys my translation. It’s very convenient when a man comes into this age that I’m in now – a half-a-century since inception – and can freely talk about their early endeavors without hesitation.
Media Marketing: You are also the author of the multimedia project “Tesla’s Vision of the Internet”. How did you connect Tesla and the Internet?
Lazar Bošković: Many people don’t know that two of Tesla’s patents are in all digital devices today, be it a mobile phone or a computer of any kind. These two patents are the logic gate “and” and wireless transmission. And both came from the remote controlled boat which Tesla demonstrated on a pond in New York’s Madison Square Garden, in 1898. Another less known fact is that Nikola Tesla, talking about his project “World System” in 1900, using the then technical terms, practically described what is now called the wireless Internet, mobile telephony and GPS. At the beginning of the 20th century he practically described in 12-points something that was supposed to work as an “analog” internet, according to the technical possibilities available at the time. The idea to connect Tesla’s vision of progress of telecommunications with what is today the Internet I got in 2006 at the exhibition Tesla’s Wonderful World of Electricity, organized by the Museum of Nikola Tesla, where I first saw a billboard with the title World System. However, only in 2012 this turned into my exhibition at the Gallery O3ONE in Belgrade, organized by RNIDS. Later this turned into a mobile exhibition, five times rerun so far, which interested institutions can get for free. The multimedia project Tesla’s Vision of the Internet is also available online at www.teslinavizijainterneta.rs.
Media Marketing: What is your most favorite award in almost three decades of work?
Lazar Bošković: I would say that it would be the PRiznanje Društva Srbije za odnose s javnošću (Recognition of the Serbian Association for Public Relations), in the category of publications of special purpose, for a poster called Illustrated House Rules. I received the award in 2005, together with Bob Živković, who did what he does best – drawing life into my “silly” idea to illustrate the rules of life in a building in a fun way. With this simple project I succeeded in bringing my work into almost every apartment building in Belgrade and having it there for years, while at the same time bringing a boring bureaucratic topic closer to citizens in a creative way.