Rimantas Stanevicius: You cannot sell a very good idea to a person who cannot appreciate it

Interview with Rimantas Stanevicius, the Creative Director of MILK, one of the leading Lithuanian agencies. MILK was nominated “The Agency of The Year” in the Baltics in 2015.

What has changed in the Lithuanian advertising market over the past year?

It is always very nostalgic to look back and Lithuanians often say something like ‘’Oh, these were the days’’, but I try to stay in the present day and appreciate the now. I guess it is mostly the same: the small players are eager to grow bigger which means they take more risks - both the clients and the agencies. The bigger ones are playing safe and trying to maintain the status quo.

What are the main trends in the Lithuanian advertising market?

I think that the briefs from the clients have become less specific. Normally we would get briefs with a lot of information in place already - media channels, the main message etc. Now we get open briefs where we can improvise.

The digital media has better exposure than the traditional media,because the cost per contact in digital is cheaper. So, in a way, when you do a banner ad, more people see it compared to when you do an outdoor or TV spot.

We have executed several campaigns that have had no fixed plan - we would start the campaign and then we would react based on the reaction of the audience.

Another thing is that we do not publish a set of ideas but rather test them one by one and see on the go what works and what does not. It is like live communication, real time marketing.

For example with the campaign ‘’The roads need more coffee’’ for Lukoil we used a dashboard camera to shoot the TV spot and these videos became viral even before officially releasing them. And then we thought why not allow people to post stuff they notice in the street and then the ones who post can win a dashboard camera and those on the picture can get a free coffee. The client thought that it might be logistically difficult but wanted to give it a try.

Examples of the campaign:

Normally all of this would have to be planned and approved, but now clients are willing to risk it and see how it goes and adapt on the go.

What kind of skills are required to be modern day adman or -woman?

Less and less you need a set of very specific skills to be able to write poetry or illustrate in a particular way, or to code a particular language, or know a specific platform, because then you will just be hired by someone who came up with an idea and needs implementation or execution of the idea. You need common sense and curiosity, you have to know about the technology as a user, and not as an engineer. On the other hand, you need common sense to be able to empathize with the receiver or the target audiences and to see what kind of problems are they dealing with. Try to think of ways how to solve their problem. I think our biggest asset is our own experience and that is what we as advertising people bring to the table.

What do you think is the main issue with the clients: what is stopping them to demand even better advertising?

Although each client is unique, with their unique set of problems, there is one thing in common that I can bring out. Agencies are small businesses, therefore many agency people are shareholders or partners in their company. But very few clients we meet are the business owners, they are paid employees. Whenever we in the agency fail or succeed we can feel it on our skin, but the clients do not have that and often they have their own (hidden) agendas.

I have learned to adapt to this and the more I get to know the clients the better the results are, because you cannot sell a very good idea to a person who cannot appreciate it. Therefore it is important to get to know your client very well.

I never want to say anything bad about the client, I just think we need to be more in the same boat, which does not mean we need to somehow educate the clients, it is just about getting to know each other and understanding each other.

Interviewed by Hando Sinisalu & Heidi Tiik, Best Marketing International