Dana Bulat (United Media Services): “The quality has always prevailed in front of the quantity”

Advertising, Cannes Lions, Festivals, Media

During the 65th edition of the international festival of creativity Cannes Lions this year, 4 Romanian advertising people were part of the juries choosing the shortlists in 4 contest categories. Dana Bulat (GM & Owner, United Media Services) chose for the first time in her career the finalists in the Media category. Following that experience, Dana decided to share with us her opinions and learnings she gathered.

The judging was online and it offered me the possibility to feel the real pulse of the global media market, with its high and lows, to discover the trends, to see what type of campaigns win budgets in different countries rating from countries in Europe and up to the United States, Australia, China, Japan or India. A different interesting aspect was to discover to what extent my opinions and preferences are the same or not with the ones of renowned jurors, global chief from multinational agencies.

I started this path with curiosity, but also with a sense of honor in the fact that I was chosen to be part of this jury and to represent Romania. I was looking forward to seeing the study cases and figuring out where we are as an agency, but also Romania, as a country. The reality surpassed any expectations, the judging rhythm imposed being a very fast one and keeping me always on my toes. It was as if I read seven advanced creativity books, but fast ahead, because the work volume was enormous. I received almost 30-40 cases a day. I did all possible to analyse them as correctly and as fast as possible as I also had a planned business trip that I had to be ready for and I wanted to finish the judging a week earlier. Because I finished the scoring before the deadline, I kept on receiving cases on a fast pace, a fact that at a certain time became a true challenge.

For me, the quality has always prevailed in front of the quantity, therefore I impose myself that each case study would be analyzed accordingly. And here I believe that my experience spoke and everything turned into an extremely interesting experience.

Even I didn’t succeed in writing down all the cases that I liked, after the showing of the awards, I realized how I positioned myself: a part of the campaign had impressed me a lot, but there were also situations in which it seemed to me that some campaigns were a little forced, made only to receive an award. Something that I don’t believe is something necessarily bad given the fact that this festival is one that awards the creativity per se.

What I’ve learned:

I had to look at things from a much larger perspective in which, even the category I judged was media, the creativity and the emotions became more important in the decision making. When the judging process started we had an induction session in which we were guided to look at the idea’s potential of generating emotion and scalability, without necessarily taking in account the coverage generated or the campaign’s efficiency. The perspective turned out to be extremely interesting. Suddenly, our focus went towards the contextualization, to the relevance of the implementation or the insight’s value that was later on articulated into the campaign. This way, many campaigns developed only on Snapchat or 2-3 atypical OOH locations found their way towards the shortlist. And here we refer to famous clients such as  Netflix, Google or Amazon.

The manner in which you create the presentation movie and how you structure the case are sometimes more important than the idea and the implementation themselves. A juror has in average 10 minutes to analyze the case. The visual impact is extremely powerful. As I was writing earlier, the manner in which the campaign beings emotion can make the difference. It’s the same situation with the presentation movie. It can grow ten times the impact of a good,but unspectacular idea, while a very good idea can not be put in value at all. Obviously that other relevant criteria were taken in account for each sub-category, each participant offering as many creative materials and information as possible, being as well the possibility of contacting and asking for more details if some aspects turned out to be unclear. There has never existed the tendency of disqualification due to information or their incomplete form. The judging was relaxed, friendly and open to dialogue.

The sense of humor and the relaxation can help you get out of any situation. A good presence of mind can get you out of many less pleasant situations. I took part in a main seminar,with a very big audience, given by a Samsung representative that was presenting the latest trends in communication and technology. She got really unlucky as her laptop and pointer shut down and she had to give her speech a good period of time all by herself and at the same time keep up the rhythm and the credibility. But she did an amazing time, having a very natural attitude and knowing how and when to use humor in order to surpass that awkward moment.


Many case studies where in the area of social responsibility, on very diverse areas and for multiple causes. Especially in digital.

Some trends and digital channels aren’t explored in Romania at the level in which it happens in other countries. For example, many campaigns that ended up on the shortlist were only on Snapchat and Augmented Reality. And they weren’t targeting only a very young public, as they do in Romania. For me it was pretty difficult to analyse these cases lacking the experience of this media, from a consumer point of view, but from here it came the learning experience. I had to get myself informed in order to be able to take the right decisions even in the cases of some campaigns that cannot be implemented as such in our country.

China, Japan, South Korea are from a completely different culture. Everything is more digital, more efficient. The emotion is not the campaigns’ from this area best feature. The level of integrating technology in the everyday consumers’ lives is the most advanced in the world.

Creativity begins to stop being only on the advertising agencies’ agenda. In the lists of workshops I saw one with the title “What is creativity”, held by Deloitte. At the same time, Accenture was on the winners’list and had an impressive presence at the festivities’ location.

The seminars and workshops’ offer at Cannes became extremely diverse. There are so many workshops at the same time that one is constantly living with the feeling that is loosing something and that makes the choice even harder. One can never know if he /she made the best choice. Especially when there are so many options, you realize that they cannot be all super top quality.

When I was for the first time at the festival, at the 2007 edition, the situation was completely different. One had 2,maximum 3 possibilities to choose from. Now the variety is much bigger and there are 3 different locations where you could go and take part in a seminar or workshop. It is clear that they want to reach a larger public and,at the same time, satisfy all the participants.

What captivated me

The fact that I was involved in the See It, Be It mentorship program that had turned out to be a very interesting experience for me. At the beginning I was a little nervous thinking about how will I teach about media and advertising girls that come from much better developed areas than Romania, from an industry stand point. But, during the program, I realized that we are much more alike than we might think and I saw how important was the experience I accumulated all those years while working in advertising. The life experience differentiates yourself, not necessarily the geographic area, even we have a complex regarding the place where we are activating from. I was a mentor for a girl from India, one from New York and one from Uganda. “See It, Be It” represents a mentorship program in which there are chosen 20 girls from allover the world and they receive a 360 coaching package, including a one to one session with the mentors. It was interesting to see the manner in which they received what we were transmitting them, but it was also a good way for me to realize that I have so much to give away and teach.

When it comes to the agencies that I saw, I liked a lot the presentation and the energy of RGA, the people’s authenticity, the manner in which they were relating to technology and the efficiency in business of the campaigns they developed.

Which takes me to the next point…

Campaigns that impressed me 

A TVC developed around one person – Marcos Menendez, from Los Angeles, in which the star is David Schwimmer, famous for his role of Ross in Friends, but also Menendez’s favorite actor. During the Super Bowl, it wasn’t screened the TVC, as it happens usually with the rest of the TVCs, but only the Menendez’s live reaction to watching the TVC. The campaign surprised by its different approach and it had an incredible success.

Another campaign at the Super Bowl, an event where is extremely hard to get noticed, because all the brands are trying to push the boundaries and come up with really creative ideas, Tide brought a totally unexpected and fresh approach. From my point of view, it should have won the Grand Prix in Media. The agency started from the idea that every TVC presented at the Super Bowl in which there was something white, is a potential spot for Tide. Therefore, after each ad in which somebody came up dressed in something white or some clothing white item was presented, it showed up the hasgtag ItsATideAd. Without an impressive budget, the campaign generated a fantastic online exposure, the strategy based on the hashtag working perfectly.