Cheil Ukraine recently hit the trade press headlines with their emotional campaign for Samsung’s smart fridge. And they’re also part of a rising wave of Ukrainian advertising generally – despite the odd geopolitical issue with their neighbour to the northeast, there’s a lot of positivity around a flourishing creative and tech scene. More and more productions are looking to Ukraine as a great place to shoot and the nation’s reputation as storytellers is starting to catch up with their reputation as digital innovators.
We caught up with Vladyslava Denys, Creative Director at Cheil Ukraine, to get the lowdown on Ukrainian advertising.
LBB> When did your agency open its doors?
Vladyslava> Cheil Worldwide Ukraine started operating in 2003 as an agency who mainly worked with adaptations of global materials for Samsung. I joined Cheil WW Ukraine in 2013 and we started developing local campaigns for Samsung with ideas based on local insights.
LBB> What makes your agency unique within the Ukrainian industry?
Vladyslava > Samsung is our main client and we strive to be the best “techo agency” communication agency in the electronics category. Most Ukrainians love their gadgets which propels us to have a very contemporary look!
LBB> The recent spot, Samsung Polar Story, is beautiful – what was the brief that led to such an idea?
Vladyslava >The brief was very simple: to deliver the message that the Space Max refridgerator has more space than you can imagine. Our clients have a great imagination and we were asked to create a memorable story that people would enjoy watching again and again. We love storytelling and are always trying to create stories, not just spot drawings.
LBB> And it’s pretty unusual for a fridge ad to be so emotional and delicate – why did you follow that direction?
Vladyslava> Ukrainians are very emotional and our Italian art director believes that Ukrainians are even more emotional than Italians! Ukraine is a country of contrasts. People love material things but mainly live a traditional and very family orientated way of life, respecting one another and raising their children with love and kindness. We decided to capture all of these qualities in one emotional story about a son’s love for his mother and father. We wanted to capture our audience and take them on an emotional journey.
LBB> What other recent work have you done that we should check out?
Vladyslava> We were privileged to create another nice film story for Samsung washing machines this year called ‘Miracle’. It has a similar emotional tonality, focusing on family values and describing the amazing world of a child’s fantasy. I believe we have found a very interesting communication angle for electronic products which is proving very successful in our market.
LBB> How can you characterise the advertising work in Ukraine?
Vladyslava> When I was growing up, advertising in Ukraine didn’t exist. We were part of The Soviet Union where almost all women owned similar clothes and shoes and people couldn’t afford to buy new things. It was only in the ‘90s that we saw the first goods from abroad appear on the market. This was the beginning of advertising.
Now the industry is growing every year. Over the last 15 years inspiration came from foreign advertising campaigns and local brands were trying to imitate global approaches. However, some good advertisers managed to develop a unique way of communication. The best examples are based around humour. Tech communication continues to become more popular which enables people to relate to the growth of electronics brands such as Samsung.
LBB> What about the start up situation in Ukraine? Does that feed into the advertising industry?
Vladyslava> There are some really cool small businesses created by smart young people in Ukraine. Tech, restaurants, fashion, music, digital companies are all influencing the advertising industry. We have a great project called ‘Pet Cube
’, a new technology that helps you care for your pet online. The digital business is growing and Ukraine is famous within Eastern Europe for providing good IT education to young people who are interested in technologies and programming. However, there is still a challenge with many economic and political obstacles stopping Ukraine from receiving solid investments and real start up success.
LBB> The tech sector is booming in Ukraine – why do you think that is? And does it mean that local agencies are pretty sophisticated when it comes to tech/digital/innovation?
Vladyslava> We have some very innovative digital boutiques who collaborate with foreign agencies. As an example, digital agency ISD Group
collaborates with Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam. They created “The space rover destined for Earth” for S7 Airlines which was shortlisted at Cannes this year.
LBB> What is the creative scene like in Ukraine outside of advertising?
Vladyslava> The creative scene has developed rapidly over the years. Theatre, ballet, music, fashion, literature and cinematography are all very popular. There are many young people who choose to leave Ukraine, but many people who choose to stay to help develop our country. There are some really interesting, authentic and unique activites to take part in. Ukraine is a very exciting place to live right now.
LBB> I have seen numbers saying that advertising spend is on the up, especially online and TV – does it feel like the industry is growing? Is there a sense of optimism in the local industry? Or is that not being felt?
Vladyslava> I am optimistic about my country and the industry. The economy is growing, albeit slowly. This is a positive time for intelligent and hardworking people to succeed and patriotism plays a very strong role in this process. We have a visa free access to the European Union which means people will travel, study and see new things outside Ukraine more and more. Our film and advertising production industry is improving and some great foreign music clips and advertising films are shot in Ukraine. Part of the last Diesel commercial 'Go with the Flaw
' was shot in Kiev!
LBB> In terms of the day-to-day, how much does the situation with Russia affect your life and work? And on an industry-wide level, does it cause any difficulties (for example, does it affect client confidence?)?
Vladyslava> Our relationship with Russia is complicated. There is ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine which influences many people’s lives. Millions of people from the East of Ukraine left their homes and moved to different regions within Ukraine or abroad. Kiev accepted almost a million refugees during the last two years and it is now a beautiful and happy city. Many Ukranians are thankful for their new situation however the ongoing conflict with Russia is affecting the economy and therefore can have a negative impact on business.
I hope that one day a solution can be found.