White Square | Белый Квадрат




Folker Wrage, President of Leavingstone International, joined MARKETING jury of White Square 2021 and shared his opinion about current industrial questions.

—  2020 has been challenging for the communication industry in every country around the globe. What professional experience or lesson that could be named as a discovery have you got? 

— This crisis has primarily just made visible what was a fact already – that ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity are omnipresent. Anything can happen anytime, and the most important ability in any professional environment has been and will even more be a high level of adaptability, creativity and perseverance.

—  In your opinion, what are the things in communications, advertising and creativity that stayed in the past forever, and what will remain unchanged for the projects to work properly & effective? 

— At the moment, we can see the opposite – things from the past returning and increasing.  A lot of advertising has become generic, using the same concepts, images and messages. I can’t see a lot of new impulses in creativity and communications – people are still trying to cope with the situation.

—  The projects of your agency again and again have been award-winning at international advertising festivals around the globe. Is there any formula for success, or is it like playing in a casino, when you don't know which bet will be the winning one? 

— At Leavingstone, we firmly believe that whatever we do needs to be rooted in the realities and lives of the people we are talking to, and we want to directly connect with them in a relevant and empathetic way. Our campaigns are designed to create experiences that lead to reactions – and hopefully a positive change in their perception of a brand. What happens at the festivals is partly making sure that juries understand this. Plus a little bit of lottery of course. But that’s life.

—  Do you have a project in your portfolio that is particularly special to you, perhaps the one that was a prize-winning at ad festivals, or, vice versa, a project that stayed unnoticed despite its significant results? If so, why this project is so special to you? 

I usually leave the conception and realization of campaigns to the teams in the agency. And I don’t take any credit for the work that is created. My special project is the agency itself. Helping Leavingstone get through this tough two years, staying on track with our attempts to grow internationally – this is the project that’s special to me.

—  You are a jury member on the White Square Festival 2021, and you have already been a jury member on various international creativity festivals. Can you name one or more key evaluating criteria of entries for you and why? 

— My most reliable measure for any campaign is whether it moves me. When it makes me smile, when it makes me think, when I feel strong emotions, that’s when I know it will have created similar reactions among the people the campaign reached out to. As a juror I need to stay away from thinking a piece of work is good just because advertising people like it.

—  Today, the trend in marketing more and more often involves the desire to create such communication that can be both creative and effective, get high awards at Festivals, and what is more, to change the world for the better. Is it so? What other trends can you mark? 

— To be honest, I don’t think that’s really true. We keep thinking that our campaigns are trying to change the world for the better – but most of the time they primarily point towards things that should be changed. That’s not the same. Telling people in dramatic ways that our planet is in trouble, that democracy is under threat or that we are still far away from giving everyone equal rights is a good thing. But change is action, it’s about doing something. We need to get closer to action.

— International advertising Festival "White Square" is one of the largest creative festivals in Europe. The business program of the festival includes workshops in marketing, creativity and branding, media & digital, based on speaker's cases that demonstrated high results in different countries markets, and is rich with hot marketing practices and relevant insights around the world. Are you going to give a talk at the festival, and if so, what ideas will you share? 

— Every time I come to Minsk for White Square, I am happy to give a little talk, and I am super grateful for this opportunity. It makes me happy to share something that might be of value to advertising and marketing people in Belarus. This year my speech will be about a topic that is relevant on different levels. I want to tell people to stop talking and start doing something. We don’t get anywhere with good intentions. We need to think, make decisions and take action. In our careers, in our lives, as individuals and as companies.

—  This year the slogan of White Square 2020 is short: IT’S TIME! Do you think, is it worth taking part in international advertising festivals in times of crisis, and why? What would you like to wish the participants, partners and organizers of the White Square 2021? 

— Yes, it’s time. In so many ways. It’s time to understand and to take action. To understand that we all are responsible for what we do and what we don’t do. That we are the ones who decide what kind of life we are living, what kind of society we are living in, what we do to be happy and to make others happy, and what the future is going to be like. I wish everyone that their future is going to be peaceful, healthy and prosperous, and that democracy will win.

—  What would you advice to young agencies to become successful? Does the participation in festivals could help them to achieve their goals? What do they need to stand out from the other participants at the festival? 

— Success is not a lonely thing anymore. Anyone that wants success only for themselves and at the cost of others will see that this is going to become harder and harder. We all need to connect, to work together, to be partners and not competitors, that we need to act together, create together, win together. So we need to meet, talk, make plans and turn them into realities together.

—  You represent Georgian / Switzerland advertising industry at White Square Festival. Are there any specific features of advertising in your country, or should advertising be universal for any region/country? For example, can projects from your country be successful in Eastern Europe? 

— We all meet at White Square to learn from each other. No matter where we are from. What we can learn from Eastern Europe is an eagerness to learn and to understand. Sometimes Western Europeans think they already know everything they need to know. What Eastern European companies need to understand is that they have a responsibility for what is happening in their countries. In Georgia for example, the current political crisis is damaging the economic opportunities heavily. When foreign companies lose their trust in the democratic foundations in a country, they will lose interest in companies from that country. And Georgia is not the only example, of course.

We remind you that White Square 2021 entry system for is now opened for submission into 7 contests, 129 nominations оnline until May 17. Till April 15 all the participants are provided with special participation fees.