Advertising Expert Yonathan Dominitz: We Are Entering New Creativity Renaissance Thanks to Digital Technology

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Bulgaria: Advertising Expert Yonathan Dominitz: We Are Entering New Creativity Renaissance Thanks to Digital Technology

Interview with world renowned advertising expert and consultant Yonathan Dominitz, who arrives for his first Creative Workshop in Bulgaria. Interview by Boris Loukanov.

Yonathan Dominitz is among the most respected experts in the field of advertising creative. He has been invited as special guest speaker or member of the juries of the major advertising festivals worldwide, including the one in Cannes. He is a founder of the consulting agency Mindscapes , which has organized workshops and training on creative thinking of advertising, marketing and PR agencies on the 5 continents. More than 20  Cannes Lions and dozens of awards of other advertising festivals have gained in recent years, agencies that worked with Jonathan (including one of this year's winners of the Golden Cannes Lion - McCann Erickson Romania).

On October 1-2, 2011, Dominitz is scheduled to lead a Creative Thinking Workshop, which will be held in the luxury complex "Ismena" in the Bulgarian town of Devin, organized by Kiwi Design.


Yonathan, you attend all major advertising festivals around the world - including Cannes Lions ... as a lecturer or member of the jury ... Did you find something characteristic to distinguish like a trend in advertising creative over the last 2-3 years? Advertising agencies, creative persons who impressed you?

There are many new trends in advertising and we can discuss this lengthily. The world of advertising is changing rapidly and one of the characteristics of this change is that we are moving away from the model of imposing messages at consumers (not to say brainwashing) to creating meaningful experiences with people. Communication becomes much more “democratic” in the sense that if people do not like they don’t share it, interact with it, add /change / co-create it. This is a very important change and there are many different and new creative patterns / tools which are used to create effective brand experiences. Another new trend is that advertising is moving from words to deeds, from “just talking” to doing or creating real actions in real life. Brands, companies and agencies realizes the power and potential of deeds and there is no more the old separation between talking and doing, the doing becomes the new way of communication. Recent examples of this are Tesco’s “Home plus” subway virtual store ( ); the Levi’s “ready to work” project from the US ( ), were the brand actually took the initiative to renovate a whole public city hall, while the workers wearing the Levi’s Work collection,  Bundaberg’s “watermark” from Australia ( ), “Save as WWF” Germany ( ) and many more.

Another trend, which is strongly connected to the above mentioned ones, is the merging of all disciplines (such as ATL, digital, PR, media, BTL, etc) previously separated, into one, for creating branded projects. These projects are integrated by nature, interactive in essence and flexible in content, duration and their potential evolution.

This year one of the most discussed and awarded ad campaigns of Cannes Lions came from Romania - McCann Erickson Bucharest. As far as I knew you had creative training with them? In general, what is your opinion about advertising agencies and about advertising creative, created in Eastern Europe?

Yes, the ROM project of MCE Bucharest ( ), is a great example of the creative potential of this region. I am extremely happy for being able to provide the teams there with some tools and insights which helped them later on, as they say, to develop the ROM project. I find several similarities between the Argentinean creativity (which I like very much) and the southern eastern European creative potential. In both markets the creative boom was a result of a major political/ economical change/crisis. Both regions have a new generation of creatives which are natural, childish like, curiosity and humor, and little respect for old traditions/rules/taboos.

Probably the most frequently asked question during your creative trainings is "How to convince Client to adopt more unconventional, creative ideas?" Is there a recipe for achieving a balance between creative approach and “cold” business marketing model ?

There is no recipe that I know of, but there are several, sometimes many, misconceptions and fears that marketers (clients) hold to which prevents them from embracing creative ideas and new approaches. The major task is to be able to demonstrate that creativity and new approaches can be very effective in bottom line results. Many case studies show this in a very clear way. Moreover, in my own experience, once these misconceptions are revealed and discussed in an open and non blaming manner, marketers become more open and even eager to expand and adopt new approaches and ideas.

In your opinion, how does the financial crisis, economic recession, which is experiencing the world affect to creativity - give it a stronger impulse to boost or suppress its development?

It was clearly demonstrated, in late 2009, 2010 and 2011, that the economic crisis has given a big boost for a new burst of creativity. It is the old human instinct of “fight or flight” , if you suspend the “shrinking in” instinct, you can find new opportunities and new insights which didn’t exist before, and express it creatively.

Many advertisers are often tempted to "recycle" somebody’s else creative ideas ... not to say "to steal". Where is the line between creative interpretation of existing creative “artifacts “ and direct "copy-paste" approach?

This line is difficult to draw. Ideas are often inspired by other ideas and associate with other ideas. However, we are looking for original and creative ideas, which mean that we are looking for a new perspective, a new combination, a new twist or a new meaning or a new relevance in these ideas. For example, the “chalkbot” project, ( ) one of the most awarded creative ideas, was based on a new invention of a robot that was created for another purpose. Nike and Wieden & Kennedy took this existing robot and gave it a new task a new usage, allowing many fans to send personal messages which were then painted on the road in front of the Tour de France bike riders, thus creating an entirely new medium and way to interact with sportsman and create a new experience for all involved parties. 

Another controversial issue - usually major brands impose advertising agencies to adapt the same advertising creative  for all campaigns around the world (exceptions are made ??sometimes,  for example, Spanish speaking market or Japan with more “specific” creative). But people around the world are so different by nature –psychologically, as a temper, spirit, worldview, etc… As a result of that campaigns can be successful in one country and in another - to fail. What is your position on this issue?

It is up to the team behind each brand (i.e. advertiser and advertising agency) to determine the relevance and the adoptability of a global idea to the specific market.

Did digital platforms, Social media and Web 2.0 communication boost last 3-4 years change the main principles of Creative process build in the Golden years of advertising? Can we talk about Marketing Creative 2.0? ( “Old Spice” example …and many others?)

Certainly. The field of creativity is much broader today than it was 3-4 years ago, and we are actually the middle of a renaissance of creativity. There are much more possibilities than ever before to engage with people and to communicate ideas, much more toys to play with. For creative minds it is really a great era to be in, and a very exciting one. Creativity is fueled by innovation and possibilities to create new ideas are much larger, because there can be innovation-led ideas, content-led ideas and any combination of both. The digital evolution is still on and we can expect many more inventions and possibilities to come. 

A bit of a philosophical question –  some people said Creativity is a “gift from Above". Is it really possible to teach creativity, to "awake” with a purely rational approach irrational “spark” in our minds…or souls?

It is not a philosophical matter, rather a spiritual one. yet the origins of creative ideas are still, to a large extent, a mystery for humans. Maybe you cannot teach creativity per ce, but you certainly can open the mind and spirit to be more attentive and receptive to sparks of intuition or ideas/ thoughts. The rational mind is just one part of the creative process. You can improve the ability to use it, and you can also train the rational mind to know it’s place and to loosen up and let go.

What is the biggest obstacle to development of creativity? Maybe arrogance, egocentrism, which suffer a lot of advertisers worldwide and in Bulgaria too ....?

I cannot speak about specific Bulgarian obstacles, as I am not familiar enough with it. However, lack of curiosity, lack of ability to suspend a reaction while we are in a phase of not knowing, lack of ability to sustain ambiguity, over self criticism as well as loops of egocentrism are of some the common barriers to creativity.

You had trainings not only for advertisers, but with marketing specialists , PR experts, business managers  as well... How different is your approach when you work with people "on the other side of the advertising barricade?"

The basic approach is the same, but the focus and the emphasis may vary according to the people I work with. I am always curious to know what are the barriers, fears and obstacles that a person or a group of people has, and to start from there. Once you can respond to these needs, than you can expand anyone’s ability to create and broaden the scope of perception, understanding and vision.

What are to expect the participants in the two-day Creative Workshop, which you will lead at the end of the month in Bulgaria? And for those who are hesitant to register .... why they should do it?

Nobody should come, but anyone can come. It is about the love we have to create, to expand the horizons of our minds and to be able to get more of ourselves. People are often surprised of the new abilities they discover within themselves and the new creative potential that they didn’t suspect having. Besides, we will have fun and see very inspiring ideas.

For those who need more rational reasons: you may expect solving communication problems quicker, and expand your own ability to create original and effective ideas. 

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