Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Asja Dupanović
Even when he was still young and inexperienced, Igor Kalaba has demonstrated a solid talent to come up with and create witty, imaginative, precise, and unquestionably successful slogans, titles and copy for campaigns of clients of the Aquarius agency from Banja Luka, which include m:tel and Banja Luka brewery. Apart from the fact that today he has far more agency experience (all those who work in an agency know that agency years are just like dog years – 1 = cca. 7), just over a month ago he started the transition to an unexpected position for a copywriter – the position of the client service director. An economist by formal education, his entry into the world of advertising was quite unspontaneous. He has always seen himself in this industry and has done everything in his power to get into it.
MM: What attracted you the most to the world of advertising? Research shows that young people today avoid working in advertising. They perceive it as aggressive and misleading.
Igor Kalaba: I always loved to write, imagine and create, but this was not the first thing that attracted me to this job. Like every young man, I had a cynical attitude towards advertising. I was one of those smartasses who always asked “who makes these stupid ads?” and who said they would do it 100 times better. I decided to join this world because I was convinced I could shake it in its foundations. Just like thousands before me. But, when I joined the industry, I realized that things are not that simple. First of all, you realize that the ideas you have are just “wacky and interesting” and, as such, absolutely useless for the market. Secondly, if you happen to have good (and marketable) ideas, you either: a) don’t know how to present them / sell them in the right way, or b) their fate is decided by someone who has their own ideas in mind. In practice, the client always has the last word, and, sometimes, they have both the first and the last word. This could be a message (or a warning) to all the kids who might be wishing to do the same work I do but are not willing to compromise.
MM: You walked an interesting path from media planner and copywriter to client service director. What part of that journey was the most challenging for you and why?
Igor Kalaba: Well, you see, I was so eager to work in advertising that I applied for the position of a Media Planner, although I knew I could never do something like that. The idea was “they just need to hire me, and then, I’ll show my ideas somewhere and start working as a copywriter”. Fortunately, my fake dreams about planning media campaigns were crushed at that first job interview. It was lucky that the interviewers were some very direct people, who immediately saw through my intentions and offered me to do what I really wanted. The most challenging part of my journey so far (and I think this applies to any creative who just joined some system) was the realization that my part of the work in the agency is not the most important link in the chain. I think that most of the people who work in what we are pretentiously calling creative industries – be they a writer, a designer, or something else – have an ego problem. I came into various conflicts with colleagues in the agency whose only transgression was the question: “but what do you think about this idea?” in the hope of helping me – especially those whose ideas I didn’t manage to “beat”.
MM: The entire world is in great crisis today. People say creative ideas can help solve many problems. What is your opinion on this?
Igor Kalaba: Creative ideas could certainly help solve many problems, but I think these are ideas from the domain of medicine, genetics, physics … I can’t shake the impression that people greatly overestimate advertising. We must not forget that people from our profession have persuaded the entire civilization that they need two shampoos – one for the hair, and one for the rest of the body. So, we’re not really “the good guys.” Let me paraphrase Gary Halbert, the best copywriter in the history: we are vendors with keyboards. Selling is our primary goal, and if we manage to do something along the way for the general good or for a higher cause, great.
MM: What should the young leaders learn and adopt from their senior colleagues?
Igor Kalaba: Patience, patience and only patience.
MM: And what should they definitely discard from that legacy?
Igor Kalaba: Too much patience.
MM: When we talk about crazy, brave ideas, there is a general opinion that the communication industry is gripped with fear. Agencies are afraid of losing a client, a client is afraid of losing his/her job. How can we conquer that fear, and how much can you, the young leaders, contribute to getting the industry out of this situation?
Igor Kalaba: “Crazy and brave” ideas are great, but let me reiterate: only when they bring benefit to the client.
But how can we see more such ideas on our TV screens, online networks, OOH assets?
My answer is simple: trust. I plan to use the opportunity that I got with this transfer from creative department to client service to dispel any fear of good and “different” ideas among the clients, both current and future ones.
MM: What would you advise your peers – to join you in this industry or try to find a better job?
Igor Kalaba: There are certainly better jobs, and certainly there are worst jobs. Still, my impression is that there is hardly another job in which at 10am you’ll feel as if you’ll never have an original idea again, and already at 2pm think you’re a genius.
MM: What do you consider the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the years you’ve been living the agency life?
Igor Kalaba: Things aren’t created with just a flick of a wand. (To be clear, I still have to repeat this lesson every now and then.)
MM: How do you see the future of advertising?
Igor Kalaba: As a cynic: I can’t see the future, but I can hope that it will be less focussed on empowering everything and anything, that it will sell a product, not the “story” behind it, and that it won’t have delusions of changing the world while selling shoes.
As a romantic: People will perhaps wear LED screens on their foreheads and be walking billboards, perhaps you’ll have to hear an ad in order to get into public transportation… but a hell of an idea will always be a hell of an idea.
MM: How much free time do you have, and how do you enjoy spending it?
Igor Kalaba: Just enough not to get relaxed. When I’m not working, I’m writing and rewriting, reading books from the middle.