Even though he’s 32, he feels like he’s 23 years old. Josip – as his mother calls him, and Joža to everyone else – is a passionate gamer and a sushi aficionado. He graduated from computer science at TVZ and multimedia at the Faculty of Graphic Arts in Zagreb. He won internship at Imago Ogilvy agency in a student contest. Practice in the agency was his first encounter with copywriting. After a short fling with the 24sata media house, where he held the post of creative producer for YouTube projects for teens, and where he worked with a number of Croatian influencers, the desire for better career path in advertising brought him back to Imago Ogilvy. He is currently doing his “episode 2 of agency life”, which he believes will be more lasting and better than the first one. He believes that playfulness is an advantage in creative work, but also in life in general, as it reveals an unlimited world beyond the established borders of the playground.
Josip gave and interview for regional portal Media Marketing, which you can read below:
What attracted you to the advertising industry? What were your beginnings like?
Josip Listeš: Mine is one of those “it just happened” stories. I won agency internship as an award at Vizionar – a design contest for students – and I chose Imago Ogilvy. I was fascinated by the agency work, the projects, the teamwork and the way the team designs creative ideas. I managed to cadge some extended practice, in a copywriter position, so I could get a deeper feel for the world of advertising which was still relatively unfamiliar to me. I still remember that on my first official day there I literally googled the term “copywriting”, because at the time I actually had no clue about it. In hindsight, I think that, back then, advertising attracted me mostly because of the interesting creative process behind every campaign, and the possibility to create content that stirs real emotions in people, whatever they may be. But I still tell my mom that I simply do ads.
Imago today highlight you as a young leader of the industry. How does one achieve that, and how do you feel about it?
Josip Listeš: Young is a relative term, ha ha! First of all, I want to thank my Imago friends for their confidence – it is truly a phenomenal feeling and a real motivation for me, because here I learned how to think in a creatively different and meaningful way. I don’t really have a cheat sheet on how to become a young leader, but I think persistence, openness and adaptability to change in society is a good start. I don’t look at the job as something with fixed working hours, so even when those hours end, I let my mind roam around, because creativity doesn’t have working hours. I constantly study my surroundings, the behaviour of people… I am simply trying to experience the world around me. People in their everyday life are often my greatest inspiration. That’s why you always have to be open to new ways of thinking – because a great idea can come to you even when you’re buying cheese from a market lady on a Sunday.
What talents and skills you believe are of biggest help when it comes to tackling everyday challenges in the world of creative communication?
Josip Listeš: I think that situational adaptability and mutual understanding are very important skills that need to be practiced daily, because each project is teamwork. You should know how to accept feedback and criticism, and sometimes even change your perspective to understand what the other side is thinking. This also applies to the agency-client relationships. A cup or two of green tea in the morning also helps.
What kind of projects do you prefer working on?
Josip Listeš: I think every project can be interesting if it allows you at least some space for creative expression. I love branding, coming up with product names and digital activations. My favourite campaigns are those which play the humour card and include multiple media. I believe it’s a big challenge to convey the same message through different formats, while keeping the idea interesting and creative.
Since everyone remembers their firsts, I would also single out the first ad which I wrote, and which was implemented. We worked for the OTP Bank’s cash loans – loans that enable you to make your ideas into reality, no matter what they may be. So, the main protagonist builds a slide into his bathtub, in order to make the bath time more interesting. I’ll just say that I incorporated one of my own bucket list desires into that spot.
Is there a copy you made which you are unconditionally proud of?
Josip Listeš: For this one I had to dig deeper through the folders, and I think that, as of now, I don’t have a copy that I would especially highlight. There are several that I think were very good, unfortunately not all of them passed with clients. There will be other opportunities though.
Lately I’ve enjoyed doing copies for the Čipi Čips brand campaign CROmentators, because they have a sarcastic tone of humour that sits well with me. I promise I’ll have something more concrete for our next conversation.
With the advent of smartphones, the average attention span has dropped to just a few seconds. How can we make best use of such a short time?
Josip Listeš: The million dollar question! Today, everything is consumed instantly. We’ve become spoiled because virtually everything is available to us practically the moment we think of it. Smart devices, and especially smartphones, have not only changed the user’s attention span, but also the way and place of consuming content. There’s no longer a routine schedule when something will be marketed, and the user chooses what to watch. I think the message must be clear, direct and above all relevant to the viewer in order to draw his or her attention in the sea of information they are constantly floating in. However, this is only short-term, and I believe that attention grabbing should be powered by quality and interesting content in order to keep the user engaged for longer, rather than moving on in their search for something better.
How can we convince a client to accept an idea that seems crazy brave?
Josip Listeš: If youth is crazy, and if crazy is brave, then I think that young people, with their brave approach and crazy creative ideas, are those who can soften even the toughest clients. Youngsters who are just coming to the industry are completely unencumbered by marketing terminology and rules. They are very tech savvy and are more inclined to take risks, and I think that ideas that move boundaries are not created in safe zones.
Although, anyone can have a crazy and seemingly creative idea, but what makes this idea usable is how meaningful and useful it is for a particular brand. A client and an agency need to develop mutual trust and sometimes “take the plunge” in order to make a top-notch project. From my experience, most clients want to see never-before-seen innovative ideas, so I hope that in the future they will be more inclined to choose between two crazy ideas, rather than discarding the crazy and going for what is familiar – as is often the case. The world didn’t change because people did the same things as others. It was only when someone did something crazy and amazing that a shift occurred, and others soon followed.
For some time, you switched from agency to a media house. What do you consider the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the years you’ve been living in the communications industry?
Josip Listeš: I would mention several lessons, as they cover different aspects of the industry. The first, and my favourite, is that when something is cool just for the sake of being cool – it’s not cool. Creative work without any sense, made just so someone would say ‘it’s creative, it looks great’, is not something that creatives should aspire to. Working in the media – even though I was in the creative department – has opened up some new perspectives for me, most importantly about how important the quality of your work is. This was a great school for me compared to the agency approach, because in the media, due to the nature of the business and how they function, you don’t have the time to devote to some in-depth project deliberation. That was one of the reasons why I returned to the agency world where the focus of the creatives is much more quality oriented. And the last, life-long lesson: ego is a bloody dangerous thing.
How do you see the future of advertising?
Josip Listeš: I would say that until recently people mostly used the “shotgun approach”, where a single message is “shot” at a large mass of people, and then you hope it will hit someone, even if they have nothing to do with the target group. I think that in the future there will be more and more emphasis on the “sniper approach”, i.e. targeting users through personalized content on relevant channels. Brands will have to define the population they are addressing more precisely, so I think you will see less and less briefs with the target group line stating “7 to 77 years of age”. I see this as a big challenge for creatives, because every smaller group is specific – with its own behaviour, language and interests. Technology will largely dictate changes, and brands that are quick in accepting changes and innovations are those who are likely to take the lead in the market. I expect many campaigns will be created based on data – or more precisely on big data.
Actually, I’m really looking forward to the future in advertising, because I think that even the present time is very exciting – with so much technology and media that open up innumerable ways of communicating with customers. Still, I think that all the technology in the world will never – or at least not in any foreseeable future – replace what a person can do when it comes to stirring people’s emotions.
Do you have any free time, and how do you enjoy spending it?
Josip Listeš: Since I came back to Imago Ogilvy, it seems to me I have more free time, so I can say that this #agencylife suits me. I love gaming, so I spend a lot of time playing games. For some time I was even caught up in training for a pro career. I have a dog, so the walks with him are my daily dose of recreation, and from time to time I catch an interesting concert or a music festival. I love that brutal energy at live gigs.
Sometimes I get lost in the kitchen and even cook something. Come to think of it, I have a lot of interests which I can’t try all at once, and as soon as I get into one thing, I’m already switching to something else…
Original article available on link.