We launch bgReklamist with a warm hearting conversation with Yordan Zhechev, regional creative director of guts&brainsDDB and partner in Tribal Worldwide Sofia. Inevitably we discuss the topics of the pandemic, work from home and the impending crisis. Quite naturally, however, in his casual style, Yordan rises above the gloom and shines with a confident, truthful and humane view on the present and the future, which makes us feel a little bit better.
How are you these days? What are you up to, apart from staying at home?
I'm "hipsterring" - I'm baking bread and growing yeast. Otherwise, far more interesting: I play with sound. I've recently become part of the podcast empire Govori Internet (even though I've been a podcast aficionado long before there were iPods - since 2003, when I started listening to This American Life). I'm about to reach this spectacular level where I can tell a personal story without it grunting or stinking from afar of "Me-Me-Me". Now I can make it whole, humble and looking through the story at a higher level.
Do you find it hard to work from home?
It's terrible and it's great. I'm used to running from place to place, talking to saleswomen all the time, laughing and arguing with taxi drivers, choosing parquet floors.
Life is much more concentrated right now - I only talk to people I've known for years. Paradoxically, in this whole unfamiliar situation, there is almost no unpredictability in the contacts.
That's the terrible part. On the other hand, now I can pay more attention to people I'm close to. Even with Angelos, our "biggest boss" - lately, we just turn on our cameras in the morning, drink coffee, and say, "How are you?" And that's the great part, that I'm deepening some of my relationships.
Many people say they go crazy with so many virtual meetings all the time? How do you handle the non-stop Zoom calls? By keeping good hygiene and muting myself, while I'm not speaking. The other day I was listening to a conversation and I was making moussaka. Such little stupidity can charge me for weeks to come.
Do you think that when we return to the "normal", the advertising industry will be more open to remote work? Or vice versa - everyone would had suffered so much, that we would only wish to be in the office? Well, I do not know. I want, no, I demand to go back to the office as soon as possible. Three children under ten years are constantly running around at home, and I wouldn't say it improves my work. Otherwise, I think there will be a lot of people who as soon as the quarantine is lifted, will say "Fuck this, I'm immortal" and will overcrowd even places they haven't thought of stepping in lately, for example, a cinema. After this rush, I deeply believe, everything will settle down - they will not go to the movies again, and we will spit in our mouths again.
What is the role of the advertising agency in the current situation? Honestly - I'm looking for it. I don't know, it depends on the client, on the business. It's one thing to do something with a bank, it's another with a telecom, it's a third with a gas station or ... uh ... a canceled film festival. Our role is not to be the same for everyone and, if possible, to quell any panic in its infancy.
And the role of advertising creativity?
Not to push too hard with creativity for its own sake.
What do you advise your clients?
Don't be silent right now.
The more we encapsulate ourselves, the harder it will be after.
What worries you and what gives you hope in the near future for the people in the advertising sector?
I am worried that there will be people who will loose their jobs. Alas, it is inevitable. It gives me hope though, that once people are released, there will be more agencies that will have to work with more often with freelancers, and that will enrich us all.
As a person from the "dawn" of advertising in Bulgaria :) - have we ever experienced such strong shakes in the industry or is this the first bigger obstacle that our young advertising industry has to face since the 90s? Forget about that I'm almost from the dawn of advertising (thank you, but I'm actually not, I'm the second generation - Toby, Rado Bimbalov, Irina Toncheva, Chavdar Kenarov - they are the dawn, I'm their obedient servant), but more importantly, I'm from the generation who has always lived precariously. You've just started school, and bam - communism is gone. You've just... something else - Chicago on the streets and mafia wars. Personally, I've just I went to university, my dad died and we had to cope as we can. Then again for everyone - we've just got stronger in advertising, they give you a big international recession. Well, we're great, nothing can scare us. Everything begins, everything ends, everything continues. Advertising, too. For the inspired, the diligent and the well-intentioned - there will always be a way.
We talk a lot about togetherness right now. Do you think that the budgets cuts and the overall uncertainty will intensify competition between the agencies? Is there a place for togetherness in our industry? Can we be united in any way?
There is, of course. And there will be more and more.
In my opinion, only such a cataclysm as the current one can make us look at others as equals and part of the industry, and not as competitors. Seems to me, a purposeful effort is being made towards "togetherness", and now it finally feels hearty.
What is the best thing that has happened since we were quarantined?
"Ж". You will hear more soon, but it will be small and warm - exactly the opposite of what is required of everyone.
What's the coolest "advertising thing" that you've stumbled upon these days?
The one, in which all American ads (still not only American ones, I would say) are the same at the moment. Here:
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