Teo Migdalovici spoke about creativity and advertising, presenting at Golden Drum

Advertising, People

Teo Migdalovici is an international public speaker and trainer and has attended, over the past 18 years, major international events related to the marketing and communication industry, with remarkable results. As Cannes Lions Ambassador in Romania, Teo was, over the years, one of the most dedicated supporters of the Eastern European creativity, motivating, training and reshaping the industry. Recently, she was one of the speakers sharing their knowledge at Golden Drum festival

AdHugger: What’s your connection with Golden Drum?


Teo Migdalovici:

I started my career as festival hunter exactly 18 years ago, when I first attended Golden Drum.  Here, people spoke religiously about Cannes, so in a way, this regional event was the inspiration source that helped me discover the festival I was about to represent in Romania, later on. As life long creativity supporter, I was also the one that promoted heavily the Golden Drum in Romania, in the late 90ies.

Few years ago, Slovenian Chamber of Commerce became also a Cannes Lions Representative, so we share the same network of people and companies.


But more than a connection with Golden Drum (an event that I recently discovered after more than a decade), what I have is a strong connection with the Eastern European space. I delivered successful trainings in the region that catalyzed the creative energy for the people to win in Cannes. I developed a pilot for The Alternative School in the Balkans that put some careers on the right track. My connection with the region was always strong. So it was a joy to see so many familiar faces in the audience. While being on stage, they made me feel like celebrating my professional birthday – after 18 years of wanderings, I am officially a grown up when about international events.

Are you a grown up? -) You talked about serious stuff in your presentation: politics, ego, creative democracy…


Well, you know, creative souls are never entirely grown up souls. They have the naivety they can change the world. And sometimes they do. I choose to speak openly about the problems of our industry, the ones I observed becoming a plague, over the years. They are taboo, almost no one has the guts to tackle the issues in public, yet, if we don’t look at them in full honesty and we don’t do our best to make things right, we don’t give ourselves the chance to evolve at the speed of our potential.

I have spent in my entire adult life fiercely advocating for creativity. Looking elsewhere will not make the problems go away, they will only grow bigger. And what we also need is to find solutions to those problems. Some of the industry people think and act like they are still in advertising or in the Mad Men era – doing stuff to impress naïve, less informed clients or some of the younger, less experienced, easier to fool people. Meanwhile, an entire society, a bunch of serious clients & businesses with real issues could find so useful their potential and their skills. It is such a waste of effort, addressed in the wrong direction. Do something worthwhile, remarkable and useful, change paradigms, challenge categories, reinvent them and everyone, absolutely everyone will burst into applause.


So you put a demarcation sign between advertising and creativity?

Pretty much I do. Advertising is a lot about seducing; it is sometimes about lying beautifully, it is very often about wrapping up nicely. It is about that fancy card with the “creative director” title that opens all the doors. Creativity is practical, consistent, measurable and tangible. It is authentic. Advertising is often political; it’s what you do behind closed doors that counts. Creativity is democratic. What you see is what you get. It’s the real deal. Anyone can have a bright idea and very often the people in the streets or in front of the computer have the brightest of them, all.


In advertising the brands talked to people. In creativity the brands are talking with people. Advertising is more on the selfish side. Creativity is more into empathy and generosity. There is something far more genuine here. In advertising it is about calculating everything from the start to the end. In creativity it is important to have a bright, amazing idea that can magnetize different types of individuals and communities, then all the rest is a constant building process, in “a brick and mortar” pace. Advertising is cynical, superior and somehow tyrant. Creativity is human, humble and wise In advertising, agencies used to do stuff to impress other agencies or naïve members of the industry. In creativity, an award is the consequence of the job well done, a job that have helped a client, while have helped people and have impacted society.

Creativity is more like “a beautiful equation”, as my dad, a phd in mathematics, use to say. In my childhood he was not happy just seeing me solving correctly a problem. That was not enough. The solution should have been simpler, faster, and more evident, like a chess game that is over in 3 moves. The solution is not a proper solution, until it’s “elegant”, meaning simple, condensed and surprising. That is the aim of every fine brain of a physicist or mathematician on this planet and I think it sums up pretty well the definition of creativity today. To keep lingering in advertising while most of the civilized world is rewiring its brain (and heart) to creativity it s a luxury we can’t afford. We will soon be so last season.


Why do you think smart people keep walking the path of advertising instead the one of creativity?

 It’s easier. It’s a proven model. It’s what they know best. Doing something else would mean to move out from the comfort zone. Explore the unknown. It would mean to risk, to fall, do mistakes; to accept that creativity is democratic and for everyone. They don’t accept that mistakes are a necessary step in the bigger picture, because it is out of mistakes that we grow.


In my presentation, I also spoke about “customer care, customer cure”, a heart set that should double the mind-set for the contemporary times. I think the entire industry attitude towards people (or consumers, as they used to be called) should change. We should love our consumer more and inject more love into our brains, while giving birth to ideas. In the advertising model, “the consumers” were more like puppets. In creativity they are more like “creative partners in crime”, if the context is bringing out the best of them. There are some amazing agencies that already did the switch to creativity. They found ways to team up, collaborate and grow projects alongside people. And they ended up being awarded in the most challenging categories in the most exigent creativity competitions worldwide. But this is not a generalized model, yet. And it should be.


You saw the audience’s reaction. What do you think it was the most interesting part of your presentation?

I think people appreciated the way I choose to illustrate metaphorically, via vintage, famous films and case studies, all the topics. Many of them are not even public on Vimeo or YouTube. They are from the era when Facebook was not yet invented. And they probably loved the visual content as well. As a matter of fact, I worked with Mario Gazebro, a calligraphy artist, to create a bespoke presentation as a sign of reverence sign for all visual sensitive people out there, that know every comma, point and line counts, when about compressing information, into a sign.



But you see, after the 2008 crisis everything has changed. There is a need for consciousness but with all this technology available and this huge pressure of delivering more with less and delivering now, we are in creativity, we are in the problem solving business.

What’s the link between?

So it is pretty sad to see how the old fashion habits of the advertising are still  post-communist man-men version, I see how people with colossal potential are misusing their resources by switching to politics.

I have spoken about the importance of “customer care / customer cure” and how the communication ecosystem needs to redeem itself for all those years when advertising was often equal with half-truth well told.

We need to bring love and intimacy between brands and people. Using the emotional intelligence frequency is the natural thing to do. In business school, we learn how to read graphics and reports and about the importance of increasing sales, but no one is teaching about the art of loving your consumer, and this is key for any successful business nowadays.

While in advertising, some people still thrive to impress their peers, creativity is focusing on intelligently solving a business problem, while improving people’s lives, serving society and its evolution.

Design thinking with a soft spot for efficient simplicity, intelligent collaborative branding and technology can literally give the power to do so. But to deliver that, we need to rewire our brains and treat the audiences less like our puppets and more like our peers. The awards are not the goal, but the consequence of emotional intelligence and smart approach put to work.

“Humour is fundamental,” Teo thinks. Her presentation was illustrated, as a metaphor, with rare, funny case studies and films not to be found on Vimeo or YouTube, therefore celebrating her 18 years of festival hunting and creative travels around the globe.