“It is time for the moment of truth”
The financial crisis has slashed companies’ advertising budgets. What is the mood in the advertising industry at the moment?
Apih: Very tense and many agencies are in panic mode. The basic problem of advertising is that by definition it is always ahead of economy. There is nothing wrong with that when the economy is flourishing, but when it is not, things can be rather bad. The fact is that rationalization of costs starts in the field of advertising. When the economy loses its ambitions and restricts itself only to preserving its position and minimising loss, advertising is put aside. The whole world is facing this situation, not only Slovenia. Restrictions are radical, especially with agencies that are parts of international chains and have their headquarters in America or London.
Newspapers in particular are troubled with the decline of advertising income. Is it possible that the internet will destroy newspapers?
Apih: I don’t think so, although it does cause them great difficulties. Part of media adaptation to new circumstances is getting online, but the result of this is the decline in their original form. They can get the readers back or even attract new ones, yet these readers are not those who actually buy the newspaper. But globally, circulation of newspapers is on the rise, mainly because of the developing countries such as India, China or Brazil. However, in the developed world the picture is different.
Is it the same with television?
Dobnikar: Yes, television takes same steps and puts a substantial part of the channel and also films on the internet. This is the why, this year, Golden Drum decided to expand the category of film to mobile, interactive films. For the first time, they will be equal competitors with films made for cinemas and television.
Lately, there has been much discussion about the advertising potential of social networks such as Facebook. Are we dealing with a new paradigm of advertising?
Dobnikar: Perhaps it is too soon to jump to conclusions. But at the moment that type of advertising is more impoverished than anything else. What we can see on those pages is not advertising but amateur, simplistic work. Many times there are things that have nothing in common with our profession. You can use your phone to make a film, post it on Facebook and become a star in that environment.
Apih: There definitely is potential, but only time will tell in which way will it all go. There is a trend of creating certain communities that share similar views of matters, have similar interests and preferences – this makes such communities easier to manage and lead than the more dispersed ones.
What are main emphases of this year’s Golden Drum?
Apih: The principal theme is brainstorming. Advertising is part of the economic machinery, which has found itself at a dead end, and it is indisputable that it had a major impact on it. If we assume that advertising acts as an accelerator of economy, the one that influences the speed of people’s decisions and takes care of the trade, the question of responsibility is an absolute must.
This year we want to find the answer together. But this goes beyond mere listening to lectures; we have opened an internet community on our portal and brainstorming has already begun – Drummers are already taking action. Our wish is that all the major topics that will be discussed by our programme partners are dealt with before the official opening of the festival, and that the lectures represent some sort of grand finale of this debate. We believe that active participation is the key to finding solutions of how to overcome the crisis and that’s why we have made brainstorming the common thread of the festival.
Dobnikar: Then there is the PR Premiere; we will have a competition in the field of public relations which is something new. We will have The Best Act Award where a special jury of internationally renowned companies will choose the most original and powerful idea.
Many Slovenian companies are active in the former Yugoslavia. Is it the same with advertising agencies?
Apih: This is the case with those that have their networks in that area, but only rarely do the ideas come from Ljubljana. It is more about networking: Slovenia is the base; the people who carry out and develop ideas are from the local areas. There is a lot of creative energy in Croatia and Belgrade; Slovenia is no longer dominant.
Where in the European context would you place Slovenian creative campaigns?
Apih & Dobnikar: They take the same place as Slovenian brands. The two are connected. But it is clear that the campaigns are not as good as they were in the past. Fifteen years ago, Slovenia was on top. Now is the time of Czech, Russian, Polish and Romanian markets. The latter is especially developing extremely fast. With the exception of last year, when Poland won, Romanian agencies, which are mostly independent, have been prevailing for the past three years. This phenomenon inspired us to introduce our so-called Independence Day, which will be dedicated to independent agencies.