Iskon and Señor returned home from the recent Days of Communication festival with five awards in the bag: gold and silver in telecommunications, a bronze Effie, Campaign of the Year and the Advertiser of the Year title. Perhaps this result would have come as a surprise if it wasn’t a continuation of the ongoing dominance in the telecom category over the last few years. This collaboration is also a phenomenon of sorts. So far, each joint campaign of Iskon and Señor has won awards. Along with the gold and silver awards at IdejaX, we should add last year’s Golden Effie, a special recognition for best copywriting and BalCannes. This was our motivation to investigate how creative solutions come about and discover all the secrets of this successful creative-business relationship.
CLIENT VS. AGENCY
If you are reading this it means you clicked on the headline – that’s great, you’ve made the first step and you’re ready for a mature relationship with your client. And before we go on, a small disclaimer: if you’re expecting to discover some great secret, it might be best you immediately stop reading this. I don’t believe in recipes for success. A favorite platitude on both sides of the client-agency spectrum is “the partnership relationship.” For the client, this most often implies lower prices, for agencies it implies fewer do-overs, and both parties use it for intriguing and civilized statements at acceptance speeches. But can it really exist?
Señor’s collaboration with Iskon began several years ago, following a lengthy pitch in which the author of this text repeatedly questioned the meaning of life. Our relationship, as well as the approach to campaigns, has developed organically. When we started working together, we detected that Iskon always strives to offer the most innovative services to their users. We established Iskon Lab as the place these ideas get formulated and defined innovation as the brand’s main asset, which is reflected in the unpretentious but aspirational new slogan “Ideas from the near future.” Thus, we struck the foundations for future campaigns, in which we also strive to emphasize the innovative aspect of the brand.
LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS VS. ONE-PROJECT-STANDS
Mutual trust is something that takes time: happiness (if it exists) is impossible if you don’t understand the motives, wishes and needs of the partner. And it is impossible to accomplish it without sincerity (okay Vanja, sometimes it’s okay to leave some things unsaid). Señor takes its assignments very seriously and Iskon recognizes this, becoming more laid-back with every new campaign. This is perhaps our greatest success. Of course, there is always a matter of sensitivity and pondering the long-term brand image and the short-term sales results. Client’s on-the-ground insights concerning sales and products are key for a good starting point. The classic boundary in the client-agency relationship is blurred here, there are no sides if we have shared goals. For us, work on the project doesn’t begin with a brief. We are involved from the very beginning, holding workshops where we discuss goals, define the offer and sketch the creative brief. Together we cheer our mutual success: a great scenario, posters that have gone viral, the record number of calls to the call center, or a gadget that has gone out of stock due to high demand. That’s why we love long-term relationships, not one-project-stands. Our task is not to blindly agree with the client, but to ask questions, test and find solutions.
For the “The Rich Also Cry” campaign we came to the presentation with the idea of changing the proposition: we altered the offer and Iskon accepted our suggestion. The result was a gold Effie for sales results. This would not have happened without open communication and a readiness for quick reactions; putting egos aside and focusing on goals.
IMAGE VS. SALES
In an economy that is in a permanent recession and mainly based on consumption, campaigns are sales-oriented, and the goals are short-term. For the brand to be sustainable - it is impossible to think anything but long-term. Clearance sales are great, but if you don’t build a dialogue with the user, and don’t develop your own service/product, there will always be someone who will surpass you – with a better gadget or a bigger discount.
CONSISTENCY VS INNOVATION
What I love in the last few years is the trend we initiated with “The Rich Also Cry” campaign, and continued in “Casting” – it’s this stepping out from the form of a classic commercial into real life. Casting is in its form an anti-ad, which tears down the fourth wall and reveals the preparations for shooting the “real” commercial. At the same time it is a client’s “wet dream”: celebrities continuously repeating the highlights of their offer. A clever, minimalistic idea, carried out without redundant add-ons and with a deviation from the ordinary – deservedly named the campaign of the year in Croatia.
We like experimenting with genres, because being innovative means to explore and, as the slogan promises, to be one step ahead. Consistency is good for recognizability, but Iskon (and Señor) wants to be consistently innovative.
SMART VS. SMART-ASS
One of the challenges that Iskon has put in front of us was the high visibility of their ads. A stunt just for stunt’s sake and cheap provocations are not our thing, we love that everything we do has a sound idea behind it, while visibility comes from humor, surprise or something that’s relevant to the audience. The “The Rich Also Cry” ads were filmed with a smartphone, in one shot, playing on the aesthetics of protected witnesses videos. The chances that such a leap in style would go unnoticed in the commercial break were small, and more important to us – all of it was in the name of illustrating the “hard” lives of Iskon’s users and Iskon’s offer. After “Casting”, the collaboration with acclaimed Croatian actors continued with the Smart campaign. Again, these were commercials with an emphasis on acting – the concept is a frame in which one can improvize. The important thing is that they liked the concept personally - all of them are award-winning actors who carefully choose their gigs and made an extra effort to do their best.
PAST VS. FUTURE
To return to the parallel I was making at the beginning - it’s ideal if you have the freedom to grow in the relationship and help the other side grow. That’s why I am glad that this year, the title of Advertiser of the Year, competing against financially much stronger players, deservedly went to Iskon. It is the award for continuous investment in communication and a confirmation that even without enormous budgets, a little courage and confidence can accomplish great results. As for Señor, along with a shelf full of awards, it brought a feeling that we have fulfilled their expectations and helped them grow. And now, as I read this article again, no matter how hard I try to avoid sounding corny, it seems that we are just warming up, and that even greater things lie ahead.
P.S. Okay, maybe I do believe in a recipe for success. Unfortunately, not in those ones that can be easily and painlessly copied from an article on a web-site. What you need is some dedication, knowledge, patience and heart.
This text was originally published by Media Marketing.