Vanja Blumenšajn has been in advertising for more than a decade, most of that time in Imago ad agency as creative director. He was on the jury of Croatia’s biggest advertising festival for seven years, two of those at its helm as president. He won almost all the national and a decent number of international advertising awards (Festo, idejaX, Effie, ADCC, Outward, ADCE, Red Dot, Golden drum, Eurobest, MIAF, SEMPL…). Of all those, he is most proud of - on top of several for the campaign of the year - the award for “creative of the year” at the inaugural D Day and the award for “agency of the year” that he won together with his colleagues at Imago. He realizes that he needs new challenges in life and launches Señor, who wants to make others happy and be happy.
This past summer you took a long holiday and then started your own agency. What made you decide to take that step?
The world around us is changing and so we have to change with it. After more than 10 years, I guess it was time to recapitulate. I experienced a lot of beautiful moments at Imago; it’s a special feeling to have won the Grand Prix, the award for the campaign of the year as well as the agency of the year – all in one year. After that, I felt that I needed new challenges. Change is inevitable, growth is a matter of decision.
What is Señor, what type of an agency and how is it different from other agencies on the market?
As the slogan says: Señor – campañas and more. I actually don’t like the term ‘agency’ – we use it only for lack of a better word, not to make what we do sound too abstract. Señor is a creative problem solver – a place that intersects strategy and creativity in the service of solving a certain challenge.
The way in which we (mass) communicate, just like business, is currently underground massive changes, and advertising agencies are mostly sticking to the true-and-tried formulas. Whether it’s to do with creative execution, strategy or any other element, the “that’s the way it’s done” argument doesn’t do it for us. That’s why Señor offers transparency, so that you know who is behind the solution that you’re getting – a team with the experience and know-how of a big agency but also the flexibility (which doesn’t mean getting the brief on Friday and a solution on Monday) of a small system with a network of top creatives and professionals, brought together on projects according to their personal affinities and abilities, who can optimally respond to the challenges of each task. For us, that’s the model of the future. Mass-producing is ok – if you’re a copy machine operator. I always invite clients to meet the people they entrust with their business: copywriters, designers, strategists… These are professionals whose talents and knowledge their success depends on. To be successful means to be searching for newer, more effective models of operation and to push limits, of course with the aim of reaching a particular goal, not just for innovation’s sake.
What did that look like at the beginning? You approached entrepreneurs with a proposal of visual and idea solutions for their business and gathered a lot of excellent designers around this. That’s a very original idea.
In our work together so far, Iva Kaligarić and I launched many initiatives, and so in a way at Señor we only continued. We believe in being proactive, in ideas that have the power to move people they touch. Even our first project had as its goal to show the importance of creative thinking in business and to help new entrepreneurs. We are convinced that small and medium-sized business is unfairly neglected and, ideally, the driver of dormant economy. In collaboration with 12 prominent designers we created 12 names, slogans and visual identities that we are gifting to small trade/craft companies. The project partner, the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) and their “Obrtnik i partner” program, recognized our initiative and they will help breathe life into these new identities at the hands of those entrepreneurs who have a business plan these identities really fit into. We are happy that in this way we achieved several goals: we formed a network of excellent creatives who are a pleasure to work with, proved that despite the recession it is possible to think differently and finally, helped small single-proprietor start-ups (and maybe even educated the general public about the importance of branding and promotion). First reactions are targeted and for the general public phenomenal. When at midnight I receive an email from an unknown woman from Sisak who writes that she saw what we are doing and is congratulating us on “freedom, creativity, humour, simplicity and optimism,” I know we are on the right path. In a similar vein, we are preparing more projects. A new wine label is soon to be launched by the Slavonian winemakers Matković; we worked on its positioning and branding with lovely people and we’re very proud of the results. Compatibility with the people we work with is important to us, as well quality over quantity.
We often participated in humanitarian and pro bono projects, and Iva and I are privately involved in several non-profits. We’ve also prepared one such project – we can’t wait for it to see the light of day. After many years in advertising, I guess it’s normal for someone to feel a need to give back and to give help where he can. I am sure that Señor will be active in philanthropy, culture, art – all those projects that will make us feel butterflies in our tummies and take pride in results.
What are the ambitions and goals for the coming year?
Always the same: to create smart and creative solutions with smart and creative collaborators for smart and creative clients. To enjoy the process.
This interview was originally published by Media marketing.