INTERNATIONAL: ME AND MY MARKET; Leo Wielaard, ceo, Bates/Saatchi and Saatchi, Moscow

This is Russia and even the best laid plans need a healthy dose of improvisation for them to work. A good example, for instance, was a shoot we did recently for Trebor involving a one-metre hole in the ice of Siberia’s Lake Baikal.

This is Russia and even the best laid plans need a healthy dose of

improvisation for them to work. A good example, for instance, was a

shoot we did recently for Trebor involving a one-metre hole in the ice

of Siberia’s Lake Baikal.



The ice hole was essential for the ad, but it transpired that the axes

we had purchased to make the hole wouldn’t be up to the job.



Instead, we decided to blast the hole with Semtex which, of course, we

thought of only at the last moment, so the explosive flew out to Siberia

with us in our hand luggage.



The Semtex worked well - we ended up with a hole so big we fished

through it for dinner and burned the useless axes to cook our catch.



Readers may laugh, but improvisation is a sport that the Russians revel

in - and they’re pretty good at it. But despite this, or perhaps because

of it, Russian ads for Western companies and brands are reaching

international standards. Some are still adaptations of international

commercials, but 80 per cent are now locally developed and executed.



This is just as well, because Russian consumers are some of the most

experienced and sophisticated in the world. More than 70 years of

sifting through propaganda has taught them to read between the lines

with the best of them. As a result, rehashed Western ads do not work

over here.



Clients are similarly tough and clued up. The big international brands

know they need to spend money to break into the Russian market, and so

they send out their best people. The cowardly, the procrastinators, the

‘don’t knows’ and the has-beens of elsewhere, do not end up in Moscow.



Media, too, are more sophisticated than they are given credit for

outside. This isn’t the Wild West. Everything we need is available to us

and we use the same hard- and software as anywhere else.



What is different is that we can only buy from brokers, and programming

also has to be negotiated directly with stations and producers. Not only

once either. A signed contract only usually signals the start of what

will be a constant round of negotiation and counter negotiation.



But this is all part of the excitement of working in Russia, as, of

course, is the agency’s ‘happy hour’ on Fridays at 6pm. It’s a regular

time for agency people to meet clients and have a drink or two... or

three. It’s about the only time and date that the Russians stick to like

clockwork. Funny that.



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Getting results

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30 seconds prime-time TV dollars 12,000

Full page ad in national daily dollars 25,000

Total adspend 1995 dollars 900 million

TV penetration 98%

Colour 85%

Video 26%

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