Forget the glitter. Let’s get real.

I have to admit that before I started working in advertising, I had been dreaming about becoming a gay version of Don Draper from Mad Men. I have worked myself up to becoming a creative director in one of the biggest advertising agencies in Slovakia. However, my job is not as fancy as one would imagine.

The 90’s are still considered to be the golden age of Slovak advertising, mainly because of the opulent clients’ budgets. Those, who got the taste of the 90’s, are still reminiscing about epic filming locations in South America. Well, I started working after the financial crisis emerged, so I missed this ride and I’m thankful when I get the chance to grab a cup of coffee on the set.

Older creatives miss the glamour of advertising, but since I didn’t get the chance to be part of it, it’s not my place to whine about it. Budgets are getting smaller, timelines are getting shorter and most of the time it isn’t the unique creativity that pays my bills. But I have to suck it up and get my work done.

However, when I get creative, I’m thinking in terms of my generation. We, the kids of Generation Y, can’t get proper housing like our parents, but we have endless possibilities thanks to new technologies. Basically, all you need is one iPhone to shoot an impressive video. I try to apply this minimalistic approach also in advertising. While the old times were glamorous, we have to forget about the glitter and get real. The ideas have to be bold, but also shining clear in order to work out within limited budgets. Genius advertising is like love at first sight. It just takes one short look to recognise it.

The financial constraints forced advertising to get humble. Thus, closer to people. The glamour got replaced by authenticity. While in the past the advertising was creating desire, now we have to get to the core of what people really need. The challenge for today’s generation is to find meaning of things. That is why advertising nowadays deals with social issues, ecology and human rights. That is a great shift from accelerating the consumption to social responsibility and I would say it was about time. We have reached the point when we have to become responsible for the future. Otherwise there’s no turning back.

Don Draper era is over and it might be a good thing. The nostalgia might inspire us, but it is dangerous to get stuck in the past. Every advertising era has its own charm and I think this should be about a big shift from the big advertising ego to the more considerate one.


Michal Belej, Associate Creative Director, Istropolitana Ogilvy, Slovakia