"Golden Cannes Lion is equivalent to Olympic gold medal"

"Our success will be reflected in the success of the entire industry. I recognized this understanding in many of the congratulations we received."

Ekrem DupanovicSource: media-marketing.com

In January 2013, in the Media Marketing magazine I published an interview with Saša Pešev, director of the New Moment New Ideas Company Skopje. I recall that a good part of that conversation Sašo directed towards Dragan Sakan and his great desire to win a Cannes Lion, the only big award they lacked. “For years we sat on the stairs in front of Palais, and imagined that one day we will leave the hall with a lion in our hands,” Saša said. And that year it happened – the Titanium Lion for the Ten Meters Apart campaign. I also recall that on that occasion I did one of my strangest interviews ever. Dušan Drakalski, creative director of the Titanium Lion-winning campaign, was returning from Cannes on his motorcycle. I sent him questions, and he stopped at gas stations to get online and send answers. And so it went from one stop to the next, until we finished the whole story. When I eventually asked him to send me a picture of the Lion, he answered: “The lion is in the motorcycle compartment. I’ll take it out at the next gas station and I’ll make a selfie and send it to you.”

That first lion four years ago started a harvest which was this year crowned with five lions for The One Book for Peace project. Excellent idea, excellent execution, and an excellent client. It all came together. Even the fate had its hand in it, and sprinkled everything with some golden dust (Saki used to say that the task of agencies is to sprinkle their clients’ brands with golden dust). The project devoted to interreligious tolerance has won five lions in the holy month of Ramadan, a month of tolerance and coexistence. Nothing is accidental. Dragan Sakan left a rich heritage behind him. The most valuable part of it is the name of the company: New Moment New Ideas Company. When we published the breaking news about the first three Lions this year for the New Moment in Cannes, Milena Garfield sent a message from Washington: “New Moment New Ideas Company – The Name Is Destiny.”

Now that the excitement has subsided at least a little bit, we talked about this year’s triumph in Cannes with Žarko and Lazar Sakan, who after Saki’s death continued where he left, and developed the company into a relevant player in the global creative market. New Moment today has clients throughout the region, as well as in the US, Israel and India.

Media Marketing: Were you surprised by the number of Lions that “jumped” at you in Cannes?

Žarko: Well, it was a great surprise since Cannes is the biggest lottery there is. This year, 46,000 entries have been reported, and it is very difficult to win a prize in that crowd. We believed in the project, we believed in the idea, we thought it was something that must attract the attention of the professional public and the jury. It started very fiercely, with three Lions on the very first day, it continued with Gold in one of the most prestigious categories, and ended with a Bronze Lion in Radio, as the fifth in a row.

Lazar: Cannes is a big lottery, but we really believed, because this idea united the entire region, and there is a chance for it to succeed globally. The campaign included people from the entire region, as well as from Dubai. Later it turned out that even people from Paris took part, so we really had a strong team working on the idea. You never know what will happen in Cannes, but we believed in this work, same as we believed in everything we sent before, and for which we also won lions in the previous years. Dream big!

Creative ideas can change the world

MM: Over the last years there has been much talk about how our industry can change the world, not only through efficient brand campaigns that bring bigger profits to advertisers, but also through changing the social reality – the ambiance in which we live. With the campaigns Ten Meters Apart, Nike and The One, as the most successful campaign so far, you have done a lot in this sense. Is it because socially responsible companies are trendy now, or is this an evolution of New Moment, where the culture of the company that Saki built for years is coming to the fore?

Žarko: I really believe that creative ideas can change the world and I think that our industry is very powerful and has the influence to do it. This should be used not only to increase the sales of brands of our advertisers, but also to influence the change of people’s mindsets in the world, and above all the collective consciousness of people in our region. We are a small region and a small market, but we have a great potential in talented individuals and teams who can create great miracles same as teams from London, New York, Brazil or any other part of the world. This potential needs to be brought to the global market. We need to export our creative wits! From that, the entire community could live well.

Lazar: It is the responsibility of agencies to do campaigns that change the world. Everything is now in our hands. That ideas should change the world is one of the main topics in Cannes in recent years. And that will never stop – the communications industry will always try to prove its value and its significance on such projects. David Droga said that when anyone tells him they would like to change things, and asks him where they should find a job to do that, his answer is either in advertising, or in some big socially responsible multinational corporation, such as Google. Better there than in the Red Cross or some other classic humanitarian organization, because they simply don’t have the strength, they need the help of creative and communication industry.

MM: Idea behind The One book is phenomenal, same as was the idea behind the Ten Meters Apart campaign. This year you showed your superiority in production sense as well. A Gold Cannes Lion in Design is the pinnacle.

Lazar: That Lion came as a bit of a surprise to be completely honest. We believed that we could win an award there as well, otherwise we would not have entered a book in the category of design where the competition is perhaps the fiercest. But to win Gold – we were not that optimistic. I follow the festival since I was little, and I know that Design and Film categories have always commanded the greatest awe.

Žarko: It is the most prestigious award, and anyone involved in this business wants to win gold in design. This is something that is incredibly difficult and extremely prestigious. The power of the idea and the magic of the superb execution fell in place on this project. It was an incredible feeling when we climbed the stage in front of 12,000 people to take gold for design. I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.

MM: Let’s talk a bit about what it means to win a Gold Cannes Lion, and climb the global stage of creativity, accompanied by an applause by everyone who are someone in our industry across the world, although at that very moment they envy you thinking why didn’t they come up with that idea?

Žarko: It simply means that you have become part of the global scene, that we, from this region, have climbed to the very top, that the whole world applauds us and rejoices our success. It’s like taking a gold medal at the Olympics. The Gold Lion in Cannes is equivalent to Olympic gold medal. This year we brought five Olympic medals from Cannes.

Double applause for the Balkans champs

MM: OK, the award ceremony ends (for the Gold awards, because Bronze and Silver are not handed on the stage), what happens next?

Žarko: At the exit from the Palais, journalists wait only for those who hold the Gold Lions in their hands. We were first interviewed by a Mexican journalist, then a reporter who writes for the Cannes Festival … It’s a nice feeling. For years you pass by similar situations and imagine how nice it would be if you could once be at the center of attention, standing in front of journalists from around the world. And when that happens to you, you feel elated.

Lazar: That whole ceremony generally raises the adrenaline and excitement. You know that you won a Gold Lion, they informed you the day before and invited you to come to the ceremony, and then you wait, you want to burst from impatience. And when they call your name to come out to the stage, the whole ceremony takes about two, two and a half minutes, and in that time you feel that you are on top of the world. As we climbed the stage, we were greeted with applause. And then, the film was played – a complete case study on the basis of which everyone in the hall understood what it was all about, and then again a roaring applause ensued. It was magnificent. The rule is that every gold-winning work gets a one-minute video presentation. Our video lasts two minutes, and they played it full, which is really a rarity.

MM: At music festivals there’s often an award of the expert jury, and the audience award, and the audience award has always been the more important one. In Cannes, you received both awards. The expert jury awarded you with a Gold Lion, and the audience awarded you with a double applause.

Žarko: The award ceremony in Cannes is show business, and it’s supposed to be interesting. The organizers estimated that audience might enjoy our work, so they devoted it two minutes. The applause we received afterwards is actually what they also wanted to happen. It’s also nice to go out on the red carpet. People from all over the world approach you to congratulate, to meet, exchange business cards … A wonderful experience. You go all night with that lion from one bar to another, drinking, celebrating… Everyone is approach you, wanting to take a selfie with you …

MM: The One Book for Peace was truly a regional project. The client is from Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), part of the team is from Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina), agency is from Belgrade (Serbia), not to even mention Dubai, Paris… Was it difficult to approach the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina and persuade them to agree that there is only one God?

Žarko: There were no problems either in cooperation with Al-Jazeera, or in cooperation with the Inter-Religious Council. All of them accepted the project as if it was theirs. Everyone immediately liked the idea and they all supported it. Of course, everything had to go through certain procedure, so everyone would agree on the idea, but there were no problems.

MM: Was some of them with you in Cannes?

Žarko: Unfortunately no, but we were in contact all the time.

MM: How did they react when they heard about the Lions?

Žarko: Everyone was happy. They were happy that the project was seen by the whole world in such a short time. The world has recognized the efforts of the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina to promote inter-religious tolerance in the Balkans, and this is an example of how inter-religious tolerance could spread throughout the world.

One team, one dream

MM: In your first statements from Cannes for Media Marketing you said this was only the beginning of this project, and that these are but initial successes. What did you mean by that?

Lazar: Allow me to refer to the previous question. The idea was immediately clear to everyone, because it is very simple and easy to understand. So we had no problems with the client. This is what made us happy the most. As much as we partied in the Cannes, so did our crew in Belgrade, and Dragan’s team in Banja Luka. We were receiving photos of what was happening here. It was really very exciting.

Yes, I think that Cannes is a great start to the realization of this project. As far as competitions in creativity are concerned, we will send the work to all relevant festivals that will be held in the world by the end of the year – Golden Drum, Eurobest, Epica … The Inter-Religious Council of BiH will promote its idea and disseminate it all over the world. Great excitements await us, and we are all looking forward to it. The One Book for Peace is an eternal, timeless message. Many are inclined to say that it came at the right moment, but I don’t know what that means. It could have come at any time.

MM: You should go to Jerusalem with this book.

Žarko: Absolutely. Jerusalem is a great place to send a message of inter-religious tolerance.

MM: It’s an incredible fact that this exact project, which deals with inter-religious tolerance, won five Lions in the month of Ramadan, when tolerance among people is promoted and celebrated. You received the Gold Lion on the 27th night of Ramadan, which is called Laylat al-Qadr and is considered more important than thousand other nights. It is the Night of Decree, the night of great decisions. That also fell in place.

Žarko: I believe that nothing in life is accidental. The Lions are the result of the common energy of all those who took part in the project and who believed this was a good thing. When one thinks positive, with an open heart and a wide soul, good always returns to them. It’s just a sign that we’re doing something that’s above everything, more important than anything else.

MM: How did the industry in the region react to such a magnificent success of New Moment in Cannes?

Žarko: We are thrilled with the reaction of our colleagues. They all congratulated us. They were very open and amicable toward us. We received sincere congratulations from Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo, entire Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, all the agencies congratulated us.

Lazar: We were really thrilled. Thank you all.

MM: Industry in the region also gained a lot with these five Lions. It’s a bit groggy from the situation caused by Agrokor, and this was the best thing that could have happened for it at this moment. Such huge success brings renewed confidence to agencies (and clients).

Žarko: Creativity is more important today than ever before. Products must stand out in order for the increasingly demanding consumers to accept them. They have to identify with all their advantages in order for the consumer to say: ‘yes, that’s what I am looking for’.

So we, as a communications industry from the Balkans, are also a brand looking for a place in the world. We are still not taken seriously enough in the creative sense. Now they will have to think twice. And not just about the New Moment, but about the whole creative industry of the Balkans, and that’s what agencies need to recognize. Our success will be reflected in the success of the entire industry. I recognized this understanding in many of the congratulations we received.

MM: Seven days before the Cannes, Campaign magazine included The One Book for Peace among its favorites. It means that they actually recognized the work even though it came from the Balkans.

Žarko: Little by little we are changing their awareness as well.

MM: What else remains to be said?

Žarko: To thank all our associates and the entire team in Belgrade and Banja Luka, to thank the Y&R Dubai and to thank the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a client, and Al-Jazeera.

Lazar: What Žarko just said only confirms our motto – One Team, One Dream.


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