Magnus Lužkov, the head of the Optimist agency and a member of the jury of this year’s BalticBest, said that the importance of participating in the competitions has even increased, as the talent hunting has become more aggressive. In addition, he said that older brands need to do more to stay competitive today and that Optimist agency has the only full-time specialist working on Metaverse projects in Estonia.
How do you see the importance of (international) advertising competitions today? What do they provide?
International advertising competitions are like the World Cup or World Cup stages in sports. Participating in them introduces the agency and its level, and winning brings attention and work. But like sports, you can enjoy your work without participating in competitions – it’s a matter of choice.
The importance of participation has even increased over time as there are many companies and talent spotting has become more aggressive. We here in Estonia do not really understand this, because most of the business takes place in the internal market, and it seems to many that an agency with even average creativity is enough.
Participation in international competitions and their results are important only for those who have international plans or more ambitious growth plans in the internal market – both from the point of view of the agency and the client.
What are the biggest changes in the world of advertising in the near future? Is it the case that performance marketing is taking over and there is less and less room for creativity?
I think the two (creativity and performance marketing) have already became friends. Both have their place. They support each other – storytelling is also targeted and measured today.
The sector as a whole is currently growing at a slow, but steady pace. The price level has risen slightly, as in other areas of the service economy. Many brands are in the growth phase and are investing in marketing, which in turn forces older brands in the milking phase to tighten up a bit.
New hot topics (AI, VR, NFT, etc.) are only gradually glowing and looking for their right output in the field of marketing. The bigger bang will happen when new virtual worlds become comfortable and necessary and people embrace it. According to various predictions, in ten years, people will spend more time in the virtual world than in real life. We also act in this faith. I suggest that Optimist is the only agency in Estonia today that employs a full-time specialist for Metaverse projects. The first projects are underway.
Which new skills marketers and agencies need to have due to changing environment?
There are more and more inquiries about international marketing issues domestically. Many entrepreneurs have decided to look for customers and business opportunities in larger markets. This is a new situation for all of us, but with great potential.
At Optimist, we have decided that we want to go explore the world with these companies and support them in other countries. That is why, in addition to Estonia, we also have teams in Germany and India. While much of the digital marketing (at least technical) can be done here, local conditions (needed to create relevant content) are not perceived without being physically present.
Changing circumstances can also be considered, for example, a decrease in attention. It requires a whole new approach from storytellers and filmmakers to attract and retain people’s attention. New generations can decide in a fraction of a second whether they are interested in the work being shown or not. In terms of the brain, they could probably scroll even faster, but today’s human anatomy simply doesn’t allow them to move their thumbs faster.
Is it true that start-ups do not want to use the services of advertising agencies because their processes are too slow for them? Do you see any solution and/or opportunity here?
In the case of start-ups, the slow processes of the the agencies are not the reason at all. They do not use agencies at a certain stage of hype because they do not need creativity (yet). The novelty of their service is their creative concept. It all changes as soon as they leave the hype phase – everyday life arrives, competition arises, the specialness of the past becomes commonplace.
The marketing gurus who have transacted under the hype so far will leave for the next start-up to get a new dose, and the start-up will become a so-called ordinary company that needs a good creative partner. Unfortunately, many (or rather most) start-ups still do not survive. Maybe that’s why they don’t get sober from the hype in time and will miss the momentum. Entrepreneurs who can see agencies as the creative department of their company will definitely win – they are capable professionals who are always on hand and whose HR problems one don’t have to deal with.
What do you think of influencer marketing?
When Anni Rahula (an Estonian entrepreneur of influencer marketing – edit.) compared influencers to mini-agencies, I think they are more like mini-TV channels. They can’t just advertise, otherwise they won’t be seen anymore, but they will have to produce relevant and entertaining content. Constantly.
They face the same problems as TV channels – they are in danger of becoming commonplace. It’s just that it’s harder for them to be the only show. This knowledge also provides some motivation for coercion. Good luck with that. We work with influencers every day. It’s a very appreciable channel for social campaigns and products, for example, but a little more complicated and pretentious to advertise services.