Desislava Olovanova: Local agencies should focus on international festivals

Desislava Olovanova is the Managing Director of Mccann Sofia - the agency that has been all over the Bulgarian news for the last month and which excited even the non-advertising world with the very first award for Bulgaria at the most prestigious, famous, dreamed and desired international festival for creativity - Cannes Lions. Desislava is, as they say, "not from yesterday" in the advertising business. She's been the Managing Director of several agencies and has pulled-off almost countless campaigns for small and large brands.

Today we are talk with her about the path to the award, not as a surprising success, but as a purposeful work in a specific direction with a very clear goal and plan.


This is the very first Cannes Lions award in the Bulgarian history of advertising, which is an exceptional achievement. How is the mood in the green yard of Mccan's office after the award?


For the past 4 years the team has been focused on making our local projects "convertible" not only for Bulgaria, but internationally. We decided that this will be our internal goal, and not only for festivals, but also on a daily basis. We strive to make things, so that they can be told and understood in three sentences in all languages.

As for the festival - we threw all our strength into international festivals, instead of as we usually do - on Bulgarian ones. We've build an internal "Road to Cannes" program, thanks to which we've actually improved the performance of the agency as a whole.

Our first Lion is not by chance, but a result of a long term goal. It was quite clear to us that sooner or later we would succeed in Cannes, just things happened sooner than we actually expected. Of course, this makes us feel very happy and satisfied as an agency. But you know, our business is extremely dynamic and things from yesterday are for yesterday, you have to think ahead all the time.

So, McCann's yard is working at a tremendous pace on current and future projects. The award in Cannes opens many doors, but also carries great responsibilities.

Tell us more about the idea and what inspired it.


Our idea had great potential, because it is based on real problems for everyone involved - our client Mastercard, the publishing houses during the lockdown and the Booklovers platform itself. During the first lockdown, everyone suffered, especially the small business, which is most vulnerable to crises. Publishers, especially the smaller ones, had a difficult time last spring. Mastercard, on the other hand, is a company that is focused on supporting small businesses.

The famous local publisher Manol Peykov, in an attempt to help the publishing industry switch to e-commerce, had just created a large online bookstore, Booklovers, which brought together books from almost all small and large publishers. But another step had to be taken to make things actually work - people had to find out about this online platform and start ordering from it. This is where Mastercard intervened. Thus was born the Booktrips platform, an online bookstore of almost all publishers in the country, "disguised" as a tourist site.

In the site search bar you can select a "trip" on which a book would take you and you can set the period, destination, type of experience and more. To make the journey in the world of books even more fulfilling, the campaign added a special service on the site, inspired by the Frequent Flyer clubs in the airlines. Instead of miles, the "traveler" collects pages to unlock various privileges on subsequent purchases.


ed. See the whole campaign and case study on the website of Cannes Lions 2021 - Fly with a book The site requires free registration.


Who are the poeple behid the campaign?

Project leaders are Tsanka Krusheva and Ivan Kirov - Toby, who work in a team with Todor Bodurov, Ivan Landzhev, Boris Bratkov and Julia Koleva. The campaign would not have happened without the support and participation of the publisher of "Janet 45" Manol Peykov and was supported by prominent Bulgarian writers as Georgi Gospodinov, Georgi Toshev, Maria Kasimova and others.



ed. Desi Olovanova on Facebook for their work with Mastercard on the project:


"I waited a while for all the fuss around the award to cool down, so I can write something important to me. You remember last April, when we were in a lockdown, how our work stopped abruptly. Just when I was terrified because I'm an employer, Polina Vidas told me on the phone - Desi, why don't you send us a PO right away, so we can quickly make our payments and you can have money for your people. And I'm so grateful to her, to Vanya Manova and to the whole Mastercard team for this invaluable help in a difficult time.

In order to win any prize, an agency needs an accomplice client. One for whom you are ready to raise the world, but they are also ready to help you when you need it. A client who knows how to see through the important and the unimportant things and tell you "Guys, you can do it, I see it". That's why I'm happy that the first Bulgarian Cannes Lion is for such a client. Deservedly and responsibly won. "

What was the biggest challenge during the implementation of the creative idea?


One of the challenges was the huge amount of work that had to be done to sort the books into different and unusual categories. This meant that the team had to read each of these books and know their content well.

I'm also proud to say that the people in the agency turned out to be very active readers, who knew most of the works and that was a plus for our work on the campaign.

More often we see Bulgarian agencies participating in international festivals. And yet the main focus is on the local level. How do you know that a campaign deserves international recognition? Do you think that agencies should try harder to participate on international festivals?


I have been repeating for years that the biggest problem of Bulgarian advertising is the well-developed local festivals. All the energy of the agencies is thrown into them. And most agencies participate on international festivals incidentally, as a random test, to just try if they would get a prize and when they don't, it's "whatever". The same case studies are used for local and international festivals.

The participation in an international festival requires a lot of preparation and dedicated work. And when you participate on random, things can't work out. In my opinion, the efforts of the agencies should be distributed in the opposite proportion to what is now - the great energy should be directed to the international festivals, and not to the local ones. Look at the Romanians, they have developed a very successful and profitable advertising industry, made the world talk about the "Romanian miracle" in advertising and are the largest exporter of creative directors in Europe. And by the way, they do not have a local festival, for years they have compared themselves with the world, not the local standards.


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