Andreea Gavrila in Women’s Month Comments: you can do anything you want, as long as it lights a passion within

Business, Creativity, People, Profiler, Women in Business

As March is a month when women are celebrated, AdHugger asked a few professionals with a remarkable career to tell us their views on developing their career as women working in the communication industry.

Andreea Gavrila is digital creative director and creative strategist at Kaleidoscope Proximity Romania and  happily roams through creative meadows since the age of 6. After testing her skills while playing violin and writing short stories, she began her advertising career at 19. Initially she worked with advertising blogs and small clients in need of online communications. 10 years ago, she took a leap of faith and joined an advertising creative department. She became a digital advertising enthusiast ever since. Her portfolio includes various brands, from FMCG, FMCG, telecom, automotive, e-commerce to banking, corporate communications, CSR and fundraising projects. In her spare time, she militates for digital media literacy, co-founding the first automated news aggregator from reliable sources in Romania,

  1. How hard was to develop your career?

When I was 12, I came to know the Internet a little better – a friend who said you can do anything you want, as long as it lights a passion within. A perfect Millennial trap, wouldn’t you say?

We sort of grew together: Mister Internet got rid of its late pimples when I bid mIRC farewell, and also introduced me to social communities when I was old enough to keep my manners. It also helped me learn to express myself and arrange my thoughts in carefully-chosen words – back in the early days of blogging-, when the only understanding a restless teenager could find of this world would lie in music sheets and pages of questionable magazines.

Being a firm believer in people, there’s no wonder this virtual realm was very intriguing for me. My emotional development years coincided with the struggles of a very immature, yet steady-growing digital landscape. Looking back, it seemed as the internet was my BFF in shaping who I am today. Its perks made me learn more about the world out there and understand what a career in advertising really took.

Frankly, it took courage.

And a spinal cord.

I was somehow really enthusiastic that this process relied solely on my shoulders: since I was 19, I had to work while trying to take my degree in Communications and Public Relations and having a part-time job that paid my rent.

The whole journey wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, to be honest, although it was definitely not boring – there were some ecstatic times, as well as moments when I had to pick myself from the ground, put all the pieces back together, smile, and keep on moving. Back then, I would have really appreciated if someone told me how advertising is both a land of creative nurturing and a scene for rejection, where the biggest battle is the one with yourself. The only solace for me was – you got it – even more work.

It felt just like being in a continuous roller-coaster or having a love-hate relationship with my work: I went through burnout a couple of times, had some existential crises, read a lot of Dalai Lama, and cursed the sky for all the Cannes ideas that could have been mine. But I always turned back, wanting more. As Rabbi Twerski says, “The stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable.”.   

2. What were the main obstacles to surpass?

I wouldn’t say I was ever a shy person, but sometimes advertising made me want to be more of a introvert. Becoming a great copywriter also means being OK with moments of boredom or solitude, or to feel comfortable to just shut up, let go of all fears, maybe even procrastinate. My hardest lesson was to just let things be, as my perfectionist self would interfere whenever I took a break and not get things done.

And this overachiever attitude, as attractive it may seem on a productivity level, was not exactly the sort preached by the cool guys in advertising. Yet over time, self-discipline helped me develop a more strategic approach in ideation.

Another aspect I came across was the paradox of the industry. On one hand, advertisers preached an ideal world of creative attics, a glorious land where all the fun and the big budgets played together with happy marketers that loved every idea! In real life, however, there were little money (at least in the early years of digital), in-your-face feedbacks, lots of politics and a general lack of emotional intelligence in people.

At that time it made sense, as the industry was still developing. But advertising is not just a business anymore – it’s a powerful tool that can put social problems on the public agenda. So I hope these past lessons shaped my generation into being better and more compassionate.

3. How did you managed to achieve success?

By always doubting myself and wanting to know more.

And, frankly, it feels I am not quite there yet.

Creativity in the digital era shouldn’t be a matter of pride, but of human impact. On others, on yourself. It equals with both intuition and science, a territory with barriers so blurry, where what you know today may be irrelevant tomorrow.

I think success in advertising may not be all about the ended projects, but the attitude: how many times you failed and came back. Success reflects in counting your blessings: the people working with you, for whom you carry respect and who reach up to you. The vision of the workplace you go each day. The life intersections where the energy of others spark your creative juices and make you go on.

Personally, I will always push towards something, even if this means reinterpreting advertising in yet another context. Perhaps I got an idea of what success mainly is through the little things: a won pitch, a meeting that went well, a clever presentation, an eye-opening research, a colleague that appreciated my help, a client that remembered me even after years went by and so on.

I always believed that each “bad client” is actually a teacher that prepares you for what comes next. Having said that, I will consider myself truly successful after having all of possible human-to-human professional experiences, yet this may never happen. But yet again, not having enough is my motivation.

4. What do you think today’s industry would need more?

More women in positions of power in all marketing fields. I have a profound respect for UK and its regulations on gender stereotypes and sexism in advertising, and I really hope other nations will follow. I look forward to seeing how this issue is further addressed in local creativity endeavors.

Also, I dream of a more responsible advertising landscape in which big ad / third party platforms (be it digital or traditional media) are held accountable for any social or political derailment in which they take an active part. Ethics and deonthology should be the main values big brands follow, aside from graphics, sales and numbers.

This also applies to corporate social responsibility campaigns. Brands nowadays have a moral responsibility and the means of really changing something (starting from governmental lobby to actively getting involved in the society’s problems). And they should step up their game.

5. Top 3 things to follow during the current year?

Globally, digital marketing agencies are transforming into consultancy agencies. In need of more authentic experiences, brands will keep adding value by building hyper-personalization, via data analysis, AI and machine learning.

In my opinion local brands should focus more on data gathering and interpretation, in order to be able to develop real customer experiences in the upcoming future.

Besides creativity and strategy, technology is now a cultural-changing trigger, be it for an entire nation or small organizations. Digital creativity is actually applied in our day-to-day lives, in a sense that audiences’ expectations are shifting from the brands’ functionality to what they stand for.

Another global trend is to micro-target audiences and involve them more in everything, from creating content to pieces of journalism. If your brand has a big mouth and talks all by itself about nothing relevant to audiences, you better be prepared. It’s not about how much, but how good or how relevant in a bigger picture. In other words, the need for content hygiene, minimalism and authenticity is fundamental in building a digital brand’s equity.

In an emotional economy, all communication efforts start from a consumer centric approach, but nowadays this should be based on data. Ultimately this will be the only one that drives consumer loyalty and ROI.