Monika’s Musings

miscellaneous tidbits on marketing, advertising, and life in general

(Why) Are we less creative?


Today, the colleagues from SaatchiSaatchi Bulgaria put a huge smile on my face with something very creative and super-well targeted. For those of you who do not read Bulgarian, this is a mock news site which features one article about Saatchi & Saatchi Bulgaria winning 4 awards at the Cannes Lions Ad Festival. Loosely translated, the second paragraph of the story goes on to say that Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Global Executive Director said that 2010 was as a whole a great year for the agency. He also acknowledged that a great contribution to the success of the Bulgarian branch was the enthusiastic Client Service Director who in only one year managed to greatly motivate the team.  The last paragraph invites you to e-mail your CV if you see yourself as the Client Service Director whom Kevin Roberts is thanking.

There is obviously no need to comment on the creative approach of the agency. A testament to the fact that the piece was very well targeted is the fact that most of the comments were along the lines of “You go guys, Bulgaria is proud of you” – people who are not in the profession and only read the first paragraph. There were very few comments which said “Whoa, what an awesome idea”, and my guess is, they were left by people who work in advertising and therefore cared to read the whole “article”.

Very simple, yet brilliant. Unfortunately I have to admit that this is an exception to the general picture of Bulgarian advertising. Most of the ads on our market are either incredibly poor locally done campaigns or badly adapted irrelevant foreign campaigns which just fail and lead to ridicule.

I’ve often wondered … Why are we less creative?

In March, I was in London and I couldn’t stop admiring the creative genius that governs their ad market. You can notice this about almost any other country out there if you flip through the archives of any given Ad Festival.

I have two theories to answer my question: one is that life in Bulgaria is simply not … interesting. I remember every single day of the 6 years I spent in Paris as I was leaving my place in the mornings, I wondered what surprise was out there for me today. And I was never disappointed. Same goes for London. My friend Maria who lives there now told me that one day, as she was coming back from work, suddenly all the lights on a street were dimmed and U2 appeared on a rooftop, performed 4 songs, and then disappeared and life went back to normal. Cool stuff like that simply does not happen in Bulgaria. At least not on a daily basis. Perhaps if it did, we would have more inspiration from the things that surround us, and we would be more bold and creative.

Another possible explanation lies in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: the fact that creativity is in the last tier of needs – after you’ve secured more basic things like … you know … food, a roof over your head, and employment. Unfortunately, Bulgaria is still a very poor country and most of people’s creativity is channeled towards basic survival.

This question has been bothering me for a while. We Bulgarians are really fun and interesting people (no bias here whatsoever). But why do our colleagues abroad come up with better, cooler, braver ideas?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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posted under Marketing
4 Comments to

“(Why) Are we less creative?”

  1. On June 30th, 2009 at 12:25 pm kalina Says:

    I tend to agree that life here is about securing basic needs rather than thinking about creativity and fun.
    And although I am not really professionally into PR and marketing (I judge quality only as a customer), I do work with a number of PR and ad personae, who have no idea about what they are doing. It seems to me that they just woke up one morning and said “What shall I do today? Why not try in the marketing/PR field?”. And apart from talking on their IPhone and looking very cool and expert they cannot come up with something attractive and original.

  2. On June 30th, 2009 at 12:37 pm monika Says:

    Unfortunately, you’re right. It drives me mad that there are so many people who are not qualified to do anything and choose Marketing/PR cause you know … everyone can do *that*.

  3. On August 9th, 2009 at 7:54 pm milbur Says:

    My dear Monica:

    How can you even compare (advertising) creativity across countries? It is definitely a cultural and contextual phenomenon, and both of these are very different in Sofia and London, as you certainly know ;) Also, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, as the saying goes. I for one think that it is perfectly normal to admire and consider interesting and exciting stuff that you are not accustomed to, that makes you see the world in new and different ways. And that usually happens when you travel or live abroad. That, however, does not necessarily mean that what you already have and know inside and out is all grey and boring. Open your eyes, hon :) And if you can change the way you look at the world around (and inside of) you, you will most certainly discover dozens of sweet little surprises every day, even in Sofia. If you fail, Cherry and I will try to help :-P For instance, I made some pretty big changes in my life recently (as you know) and in the process began to appreciate a number of things and people in new ways! Extremely exciting, trust me! All it takes is changing your viewpoint. Even small changes will do :) Oh, and by the way, creativity is a wonderful thing, indeed. But what kind of creativity – the kind that just amuses and/or sells (as in advertising) is simply not worth giving so much thought to. The kind that makes people think and feel differently (as in art) – well. that’s something else. Maybe you have that craving somewhere deep inside… Promise to think about that? Love, M.

  4. On April 7th, 2010 at 8:22 pm Ivaylo Angelov Says:

    Bulgaria does not offer easy surprises. Why? Because in order to be able to “see” something magical and extraordinary in Bulgaria, one needs to make an effort to look for it and that effort has to come from the heart!
    If you, Monika, cannot see for yourself the amazing creativity and beauty in Bulgarian national costumes, the uniqueness and creativity in Bulgarian folklore and traditions, the mastership and creativity of Bulgarian craftsmen…I would presume that you just do not want to see all of these, or you are taking it all for granted.
    It will be only fair for you to consider that marketing and advertisement, as we know them, were nonexistent in Bulgaria 20 or so years ago. How do you expect for Bulgarians to rapidly excel in a field, in which they have no experience whatsoever.
    Moreover, a lot of the newly educated and talented young Bulgarians (you included) left the country and went to sell their creativity somewhere else. Also, as you know very well, successful marketing is a group effort. There are not big enough businesses in our country that can financially support big marketing campaigns and employ a lot of professionals.
    Maybe, someday you will come to Bulgaria to teach marketing :-)

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