INTERNATIONAL: Me and my market

Micky Denehy, chief executive of Guzel Sanatlar/Bates, Istanbul

Micky Denehy, chief executive of Guzel Sanatlar/Bates, Istanbul

Turkey, as a modern secular republic, is barely 70 years old, yet it

occupies a land, and inherits a legacy, the history of which spans two

of the world’s greatest empires: the Byzantine and Ottoman. The Turkish

language as it is today was created in a few weeks in 1923 by Ataturk

(the father of Turkey). It was he who forced the Latin alphabet and

phonetic western spelling onto an Arabic language that is still

traceable to its roots in Mongolia. It is definitely not a language to

lend itself to concise, modern copywriting.

Lying at the western end of the Silk Road, Turkey has a glorious trading

tradition based around its bazaars where western merchants sought exotic

eastern products. Turkey has always acted as a natural bridge between

Asia and Europe. Since joining the European Customs Union in 1996, a

move which effectively removes trade tariffs between Turkey and Europe,

Istanbul is witnessing the almost daily arrival of western companies

targeting Turkey’s 60 million inhabitants. These, plus an already

dynamic local economy, make Turkey one of the fastest growing consumer

markets in Europe.

Advertising in Turkey is a true mix of the Byzantine, Ottoman and

western European. Agency appointments are based on either intangible and

intricate Byzantine understandings, driven by Ottoman-type subterfuge or

even - for some - the result of a fair and professional pitch process.

And the creative product? Ten years ago, a fair description would have

been mad, noisy, and incomprehensible. Today the words brave,

unexpected, and sometimes incomprehensible would be accurate enough.

One of the most memorable and creatively awarded campaigns in 1996/7 was

for the recently launched Fanatik daily sports newspaper. The title does

as much justice to the mentality of Turkey’s football fans as it does to

the advertising campaign that supports it.

Using spot colour to highlight the colours of famous Turkish football

teams, the campaign portrays a wide variety of ‘fanatiks’. A baby with a

painted penis is a ‘born fanatik’, the painted fingernails of a girl

scratching her lover’s back illustrates ‘family fanatiks’, and the

painted teeth of a secretly smiling policeman represent a ‘secret

fanatik’. Such fanaticism helps sell a remarkable 300,000 copies a day.

An obvious symbol of Turkey’s advertising acceleration is the

extraordinary explosion of media. Ten years ago there were two state-

owned TV stations; today there are hundreds of channels. New newspapers

are launched weekly and the battle for readership has led to an

aggressive daily promotional battle.

Straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey is an irresistible mix of east and

west, where an innate sense of hospitality makes business selling and

negotiation just that little bit more friendly and rewarding.

Micky Denehy was a Campaign Face to Watch in 1990


Key facts


30 seconds prime-time TV: dollars 13,000

Full-page ad in national daily newspaper: dollars 107,000

Total adspend 1995: dollars 648 million (up 158 per cent on 1994)

TV penetration: 92 per cent

Colour: 85 per cent

Video: 8 per cent



Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content