After my adventures at World Merit in Liverpool I flew to Sofia. At the airport I got picked up by Stoyan; an employee from Saatchi & Saatchi Bulgaria. Milin Djalaliev – the Managing Director – already informed me that Stoyan doesn’t speak English. I did manage to learn some Bulgarian words though and taught him to say ‘Nazdrave’ in Dutch: ‘Proost’!
I arrived at lunchtime so before entering the office I met up with Milin and Victoria (HR-Manager). They welcomed me to Saatchi, Sofia and Bulgaria. I didn’t know a lot about Bulgaria so they gave me some interesting history lessons about the Ottoman Empire, Communism and the typical Bulgarian culture.
With a satisfied stomach and food for thoughts we took the elevator upstairs. Here I met up with the rest of the colleagues. There are about 35 people working at Saatchi & Saatchi. After introducing myself I got introduced by the system that Saatchi Worldwide uses for briefs and strategies. Interesting stuff! It’s very cool to see and experience the ways of working from different companies from all over the world.
The place to stay was Vicky’s apartment. There was a big sleeping couch in the living room and that became my little nest. It was only 5 minutes walking from the office so that was perfect and Vicky was a great host. She even brought traditional food that her mom made especially for me. Sweet!
During my days at Saatchi I worked on different projects. I started with working on ideas for Serdika Center, a big shopping mall in Sofia. Although the English of most Bulgarians is pretty good, we still had a language barrier if you are talking about crafting concepts and ideas. I mean, if you are making ideas for the Bulgarian market, like we did. If I had a good idea in English it was difficult to translate it with the same message in Bulgarian. When they had a good idea in Bulgarian it was very difficult to explain the meaning in English haha. It was somehow similar with my experience at DDB Vietnam, where some ‘Western’ ideas didn’t work for the Vietnamese market. The world is a melting pot of different cultures and by working with creatives and ideas you get a fresh perspective on that.
So some times it was quite a struggle but as always, great ideas universal and we managed to come up with some cool stuff.
For the weekend the Saatchi crew had a plan to do some teambuilding. They took me to the Gela Festival in the beautiful Rhodope Mountains. This annual event was a music festival with traditional Bulgarian bagpipes; an instrument made out of a sheep’s stomach.
On the way to the festival we drove over a very dark and dangerous road in the mountains. The right side of the road was completely filled with fallen down rocks. I said: ‘This is fucking crazy’. And then Erkan said the legendary words: “Bulgaria is no joke man”. We laughed our asses off. In some way the sentence travelled with us and I told the guys we should use that as a campaign for Bulgaria. It works for everything.
On the first day we arrived at night and it was the first teambuilding challenge. We had to put up our tent in the dark and pouring rain. Luckily we bought some Rakia along the way, a local drink that definitely kept us warm. Bulgaria is no joke man.
This picture below is another example that Bulgaria is no joke.
The next day it was time for the official festival. Friends, families, artists, dogs, young and old, everybody was dancing to the bagpipe music. They all go hand in hand for a traditional dance called ‘horo’. The biggest one I saw was with more than 400 people in total. No joke.
Monday. Team = build. This week I got briefed on another cool project, for one of the biggest beer brands in Bulgaria; Zagorka. We had to come up with a new campaign for next year. Together with the guys we managed to crack the problem and the client loved our approach. If things work out well the campaign will be live in the beginning of next year (it’s campaign!).
The last task I worked on was a new program that Saatchi is starting; “Advertising, innovative marketing and brand management”. It’s an official Master Program that they create together with the University of finance, business and entrepreneurship VUZF. I was asked to come up with ideas to find qualified applicants. I’m not allowed to share more but at my last hours at Saatchi I received a big smile and a strong drink from Milin so I guess he liked them.
At the Gela Festival, Rado (Copywriter) and I cured our hangover with a typical Bulgarian snack; ‘Patatnik’. It was so good that I was talking about patatniks all the time. Maybe that why they gave me a new cardboard sign with ‘The Patatnik Intern’ on it.
This is the Saatchi team.
This is the rest of the team that I forgot to put on the picture.
Milin, Vicky, Rado and the rest of the Saatchi crew, blagodaryá for this great experience. It was no joke! See you next year at the Gela Festival.