Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Janez Rakušček, ECD, Luna\TBWA
A little more than two hours into the flight, a fully packed plane that took off from Istanbul towards East slowly started to descend toward the airport in the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi. Although it was 07:00 pm by local time, it was already dark outside. The small airport lights were blinking shyly, shining through the fine rain. Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 737, which flies every day from the city on the Bosphorus to the city on the eastern Black Sea coast, stopped in front of the airport building with unsightly red neon sign BATUMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. Passengers cautiously descended the wet and slippery metal stairs, trying to escape the rain and reach the airport bus as quickly as possible. Through the bus windows, passengers could notice the unpleasant greenish neon lights in the hall of the airport, and the relentlessly stacking rows in front of the windows of passport and customs control; waiting in the bus, passengers were trying to imagine how far the snake of incoming passengers meanders.
“Wait, what is this? Some kind of a travel log?” you’re probably wondering right now my dear readers. The answer is: yes. Exactly so. This is a travel log, and you will find out why in the end. Let us continue.
The first impression of visitors to Batumi, especially when they arrive on an evening flight, is mixed: while driving in a taxi or airport bus to the city – which is only a few kilometers away – you can see mainly construction sites. Poorly illustrated posters of concrete structures reveal that these are future luxury hotels, casinos, shopping malls and apartment complexes, whose price rises exponentially as you approach the city center. In between the sites you can see the remains of some ancient times, hiding shyly: the disappearing wooden huts and disintegrating Soviet buildings, for no apparent reason encircled with plastic sheets of vivid colors. The colorful plastic only highlights their dilapidated state. The road along the coast has four lanes separated by palm trees, elegantly illuminated by multicolored lights hidden in the nurtured grass beneath. Between the road and the Black Sea beach are strings of pools and gardens with artificial colorful sculptures. On the cape that connects the beach and the pier stands the magnificent metal structure called the Alphabetical pillar which is exactly what the name suggests: a metal pole with spirally suspended letters of the Georgian alphabet.
Now you’re probably wondering if I’m writing from personal experience – and you’d be right.
Bus, which carried from the airport nearly half the members of the international jury (Istanbul, namely, is an intersection for flights from all over Europe) stopped in front of the Hilton hotel where over the next four days the reason for my arrival to Batumi would take place: the Ad Black Sea advertising festival. The event, with great organizational help of the All Ukrainian Advertising Coalition, first held last year, already in its second edition saw an increase in entries by more than 100 per cent, which indicates that the organizers made the right decision by choosing this location. The area between the Black and Caspian Sea, with Georgia, Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and large neighbors, Russia to the north and Turkey to the south, represents vital, advanced emerging economies with great potential for the future, not only in production, but above all in tourism and trade. After all, one of the main stations on the ancient Silk Road, Turkish Trabzon, is only a stone’s throw away. Progress and mixing of cultures in Batumi are visible at every step: the Orthodox churches are huddling together with mosques, dilapidated remains of the Soviet era remind of the urban architecture of the 19th century, and above all that rise the luxury hotels such as the Hilton and the Sheraton (which is, incidentally, architectural copy of the famous ancient lighthouse on the island of Pharos at Alexandria).
The festival was lively. Lectures very well attended. At my lecture, the hall was almost full, and the applause and congratulations were honest. The work of the jury flowed smoothly and stimulating; as is customary at the festival juries, all members of the jury connected quickly, particularly on a number of excellent Georgian dinners. The best part of the judging at international festivals is getting to know interesting people such as, for example, Koenraad Lefever, creative director of the famous Belgian agency Duvall Guillaume, with whom I often got chatting, and the meeting with old acquaintances, such as Folker Wrage, now chief creative director of Havas Switzerland; and indeed, with excellent Georgian food conversation flows easily.
The final evening in the great hall of the hotel Batumi Sheraton radiated with characteristic festival atmosphere, revue orchestra and enthusiastic applauses and cheering of all present. The awarded works were really above average, as well as winners and agencies, among which there were those that we meet at the Golden Drum and similar regional festivals – only in Batumi a very good show was made by local, Georgian agencies. Opening remarks of the closing ceremony went to the Georgian Deputy Minister of Economy and Long-term Development; this ministry and administration of Ajara region (to which Batumi belongs) greatly supported the organization of the festival.
(And therein lies the reason for the travel log form of this article.)
The reason of state support to the festival that supports creativity is quite simple: Georgia and its region Ajara have decided to clearly and decisively mark themselves on the international map of attractive business tourism destinations, which through the lens of the new trade routes (Chinese New Silk Road project, which in one of its arms connects Odessa, Constanta and Varna with Batumi and further to Baku, Samarkand and central China) is certainly a very smart move. Invitations for the jury sent to about 35 central and western European creative directors should therefore be viewed in the context of changing global trade balance and determination of the State to ensure larger share of recognition in the global economic system in the future.
(And, judging from the text you are reading right now, they are succeeding.)
I wonder if there is another state like Georgia somewhere in the world that has recognized wider economic and social benefit in supporting an advertising festival?