Pietro Leone, CEO Geometry Global EMEA: Expect surprises from CEE at Cannes 2015

Creativity, Festivals & Awards

In an opinion material released by Geometry Global, Pietro Leone, Chief Executive Officer Geometry Global EMEA, tells the international ad industry to expect surprises from CEE at this year’s edition of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Pietro Leone
Pietro Leone, Chief Executive Officer Geometry Global EMEA

I remember a network meeting a few years ago, during which one of the most awarded creative directors told my boss to stop loosing time with Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as it is a region that won’t bloom from a creative point of view until it won’t “import” a creative chief from Latin America. I knew that very moment that the reality was different and that only the passing of time will confirm that.

Same as for Maslow pyramid, the things are following a well-established order. Considering that now markets are reaching maturity and people understand differences between commercial creativity and art, the results and awards won’t let themselves waited for.

Let’s talk about Romania’s case, who was winning Grand Prix in Cannes in 2011, while Russia won its first one just last year. Czech republic won Grand Prix at Golden Hammer with LGBT Avatars (campaign made by Geometry Global), an initiative that supports the rights of homosexuals and which will have a spot within the NY Pride parade. The campaign benefited of public support from Sir Ian McKellan on Twitter (…) Last year, Russia wrote history by winning the innovation prize in Cannes.

So, why do I think CCEE “will make waves” in Cannes? The main reason is the immense energy that remains unexpressed inside the agencies. People are thirsty for glory but, at least for now, it’s not their time. They are perfectly aware of the fact that, with few exceptions, a new generation of creatives is waiting to receive the international appreciation.

What changed?

We are finding a single factor with crucial importance: since 1990 (after Berlin Wall’s fall and the opening of the entire region), the communication within the area was focused on the promotional area rather than brand marketing.

The reason – brands hired in the region expats who, most of the times, were encouraging short term thinking. As a consequence, CEE agencies (along with the entire creative process) didn’t have any chance in promoting a type of marketing with a vision on long term or the possibility to address “the key questions” within the brands.

Long term investments

25 years later, CEE becomes an integrated part of the European market. The new generation of brand marketing specialists – mainly locals – have a strong interest in promoting brands on long term. They see the local markets with different eyes and, as a consequence, have a different perspective over brand’s interests. This aspect generated a fundamental change of the brand-agency relationship and of the perception related to the work towards this goal.

Only during the last 5-7 years, we witnessed the apparition of a new generation of creatives, in the context of a new generation of brands. This local approach produces the desire to stimulate growth both for brand’s owner and for its business partners, but also for the extended community. This fundamental change brings an “annus mirabilis” for the marketing and communication industry, along with creative ideas we call “Pivotal Ideas”, and that have the potential to win awards both internally and internationally.

It’s not just a happening that the most awarded campaign of all times from Russia – Sanofi Aventis “Get Well Kit”, an app for iPhone making sure people take correct medicine at the proper time – was conceived, drafted and developed entirely by a local team in Russia. The strong insight behind the campaign was anchored with an impactful creative idea of maximum efficiency and now the campaign is present to all creative festivals, local, regional, international, such are Cannes Lions, London International Awards and Clio Awards.

I’ve spent 15 years living and working in CEE and I got to appreciate the different nuances within countries and cultures in the region. I am extremely proud of this creative “rebirth” which represents the heritage of a key value, which differentiates CEE from many other markets: the strong desire to act fast which, together with the “hunger” for success, represents a winning combination.

So, Cannes, watch out! While all eyes are fixed over the creations coming from Latin America, it is very possible for CEE to generate a huge surprise.