Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Svetlana Ćopić is the Creative Director of the agency Scholz & Friends Belgrade, where she moved after 12 years at New Moment New Ideas Company Y&R Belgrade. She is also the editor of the New Moment magazine for art & advertising. She is considered one of the leading experts in the advertising industry of Serbia, already having laid the foundations for this with her graduation thesis: “Advertising – between brainwashing and brainstorming”.
Svetlana believes that women in the advertising industry still have a disproportionately small influence and to support this thesis she cites several of her own experiences: “When I first went to the Golden Drum festival, at the beginning of my career in advertising, I was shocked when the jury came out on the stage and I saw only one woman among the two dozen men. Things have not changed much since then.”
The only change was the fact that Svetlana became a member of the jury: “A few years later, I was in the main jury of the same festival, and I was also the only woman there then. This year I will be in the same jury again, but now, unlike then, I will be one of two women on the jury. This is an illustration of the progress made in the meantime. The situation is the same at all the major international festivals. A woman as a creative director is still an exception, and as a member of the jury, a curiosity. The Glass Lion category, introduced this year in Cannes, is simultaneously industry recognition that there is a problem, and an indication of the essentially marginalized position of women.”
We try another juxtaposition: nevertheless, there are a lot of women in the advertising industry. Svetlana answers: “The fact that many women work in advertising agencies today can easily be misleading. Our profession is still predominantly male. Women now make up the majority of consumers, they make most of the purchasing decisions and just from these data it is easy to conclude that things need to change. Why things are still set up so that women are rarely found in really key positions is a big issue.”
We then came out with the question: When it comes to advertising, what are the benefits of women compared to men?
“It might seem contrary to my previous answer, but I’m not one of those who support advocating the advantages of one gender over the other. I think we are all first and foremost people and I like to work with talented, intelligent and extraordinary people. I think these qualities are equally distributed between both sexes. After all, what makes a good creative is the power of imagination. Imagination is the thing that allows us to transcend the boundaries of gender, space and time; to put ourselves in different roles, to imagine what if… So I don’t think either that female creatives must work on women’s products, or that male creatives must work on campaigns for brands designed for a male target group. My first gold medal at a festival was for an idea for a beer, and I don’t even drink beer.”
Also interesting are Svetlana’s initial experiences in the advertising industry. Here’s how she found herself, her professional voice and creative expression: “From early childhood I was good at drawing, so my first and only plan was to enroll in the Faculty of Applied Arts and work on costume design. At the same time, since I showed a talent for writing and my work was constantly entered into competitions, all the teachers expected me and pushed me to dedicate myself to literature. One can say that I was torn between these two tendencies and when the time came to enroll in college, I was in real agony. Finally, I enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, something as general as possible, which would allow me to prolong the decision a little more.”
And then – a solution: “Toward the end of the first year I stumbled upon the book Pretty Woman by Dragan Sakan. At one point in the book, there is a quote that I’ll paraphrase: ‘I wanted to be an artist, a writer, a journalist, a scientist … and more. Advertising has enabled me to be all that and more.’ It was a revelation for me. It seemed to me that all my problems with choosing a career had been solved. When Sakan’s agency at the time, Saatchi & Saatchi, issued a major call for recruitment of new people, I applied without hesitation, along with 600 other young people. A dozen rounds of selection and a few months later, I found myself among the twenty or so who were selected to start their career at Hilandarska 14, and learn the secrets of the trade directly from Sakan.”
MY FIRST FESTIVAL GOLD WAS FOR A BEER BRAND, AND I DON’T EVEN DRINK: “I don’t think that female creatives must work on women’s products, or that male creatives must work on campaigns for brands designed for a male target group. My first gold medal at a festival was for an idea for a beer, and I don’t even drink beer.
Directly from Sakan, which translates to: “to drink water straight from the source, without any intermediaries.” Although young, Svetlana was well aware what a lifetime opportunity and privilege had been given to her: “Without hesitation I turned down a scholarship for post-graduate studies abroad and became a junior copywriter at that iconic agency. My happiness knew no bounds. Today I’m more than ever aware of what a privilege it was and how much it affected my professional development. The amount of energy and time invested in our training, from today’s perspective, was incredible.”
So the story began. And the story eventually grew into a respectable career: “I travelled the entire usual road – from junior copywriter, senior copywriter, deputy creative director, to the position of creative director. In the meantime, thanks to the insistence of Dragan Sakan, I had to master daily work with clients, and then the planning, and I now realize how much those experiences meant to me and how much better they helped me to work. Since New Moment is a regional agency, for several years when I was Sakan’s deputy in Belgrade, I worked as a Creative Director in our agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Slovenia, which was also a valuable experience and a very dear memory. Scholz & Friends is also a regional agency, and it would seem that good karma follows me, so my work is never confined to the narrow borders of a single state.”
And her favorite project? “As with most creatives, the most cherished campaign is the one on which I’m currently working, or the campaign before – after this one. I have a trait that is very good for the portfolio, but devastating to the nerves, which is that in every previous project I always see what could have been done better, and what detail could have been solved better. Maybe I should put aside as a curiosity the fact that twice I had the opportunity to come up with the creative concept of the global campaign for the Epica Festival – not just because to run a campaign for a festival which evaluates creativity, and which is visible throughout Europe, is a special experience. In fact, even more special was the fee – letters of invitation, which allowed me two Schengen visas for a year each, which at the time was worth far more than any sum of money for me.”
By default, to work in the advertising industry involves a high dose of courage, firmness and optimism: “I’m not inclined to defeatism and pessimism, and I’d say that in spite of everything – the already chronic economic crisis, miniscule budgets compared to those in the West, the absence of clear criteria of values - I can still see progress. I think that, inevitably, aesthetic and creative standards are slowly rising. I think the local creatives, with proper guidance, can create ideas on a par with the global scene. Internet and social media have made it so that it’s only possible to be isolated and outside global trends if one really wants that. Information, education and the world’s best campaigns are now available to everyone, and for those who really love this profession and want to seriously dedicate themselves to it, there is no obstacle to keeping up with world events. The worst thing one can do is to close oneself up within local boundaries and a sense of complacency. The future of the profession in the region is in the hands of people who are not interested in being “the first in the village.”
Of course, in conversations like this it’s impossible to avoid the topic of social networks: “As the communication channels between brands and consumers become enriched, new opportunities for creativity are opening. It’s possible to devise often far more effective, personalized campaigns for smaller budgets and often in less time than conventional ATL campaigns. The world has changed, the ubiquity of social media forces brands to adapt accordingly and seriously commit themselves to their presence and activities in social networks.”
Advertising as we knew it for almost 145 years is almost nonexistent today. These changes are happening every day. How does Svetlana see the future of advertising? “A few years ago it was fashionable to talk about ‘the end of advertising’ and ‘the death of the 30-second spot’. As we can see, it hasn’t happened. Advertising is enriched with new media, new ways to communicate with consumers, but the old ways are not extinct. Videos for online portals are being filmed, like traditional videos, old brands are still present on the internet and social networks. But even if some extinction does happen in the future, I think the essence of our work is not in the print ad, in the video, in the smartphone app, but in the art of storytelling, the art of establishing emotional relationships and good communication between brands and consumers. Whatever the media and techniques used, it all boils down to one thing. The idea. That will never change.”
We asked Svetlana whether she has enough free time and how she spends it: “I know some of the world’s creative people who are complete fanatics of their work and, apart from advertising, almost nothing else interests them. It would seem that they are functioning well that way. I do not belong to that group. It’s important to me that my every day is filled with things that I love and that please me; that I’m emotionally fulfilled and that I spend time with smart, witty and creative people. Our work is both wonderful and challenging and I need to have outlets that allow me to fill myself with energy and inspiration. I have more than one passion, and I have realized over time that that is not a problem, but, in fact, the solution. I’m interested in design and applied art, and I am constantly making something, sketching and sewing. Reading and writing are, practically, my physiological need and the moments when I immerse myself in a book are invaluable for me. Music also plays an important role in my life. I love to discover new, unknown bands, to go to concerts, to be surrounded by music both while I work and in my free time. I am an avid consumer of contemporary art and documentary films. In the end, it all comes down to creativity.”
And what about sports and health? It seems that Svetlana lives a fulfilled, intense life in which the only thing there is no room for is boredom: “I’ve been doing yoga since my studies, and recently I rediscovered my first love, classical ballet. Since I’ve been a vegetarian almost all my life, I’ve been involved with alternative means of nutrition. But with all that, I think it’s important that you leave some room for leisure. Let’s not forget that ‘Eureka!’ echoed from a bathtub, not from an office desk.”