Sofia, Bulgaria. Maria Milusheva and Marsel Levi Creative Directors & Partners of Noble Graphics
Tomilli: What’s the Noble Way like?
ML: We try our best in not having a “way”. We try to constantly reinvent our thinking, brands, services. The moment people can easily guess this is your work, it is the end of an agency. That is the beauty and pain of advertising. You are always on the move.
MM: The Noble way is going out of our way to make things better and meaningful, no matter how energy and time-consuming that might be.
Besides festivals, how else is reputation built on advertising?
MM: Festivals could give you recognition, and it’s really nice to see your hard work acknowledged by your peers. Reputation, on other hand, is something that you build on a daily basis and it’s made of less “sexy” ingredients such as patience, responsibility, competence, efficiency. If I may put it that way – reputation is not to be put on the trophy shelf but rather on the workbench.
ML: With so many festivals, with so many categories, every decent agency can win awards every now and then. However, for building a name within the marketing community, awards are necessary but not sufficient. A big successful campaign which changes the marketplace, regardless of awards, will make people talk. A sequence of big successful campaigns year after year will make people call.
When an agency is successful, so are its creatives, so, how do you retain creative talent?
ML: I have seen many creatives come and go, yet their best work was done here, at Noble. When talents know this is the place where they will shine the most, it is less likely they will be tempted by money or titles. Usually, they want to come back and often we take them back.
MM: Actually, I believe it to be the other way around: when people are successful and thriving, so the agency is. You can’t force creativity. Neither hunt it down, control it, crack it, pressure it. On the contrary. You cultivate, plant, nurture creativity. The good leaders plant seeds of success. Our industry desperately needs leadership styles that foster independence, trust, acceptance.
How do you inspire customers to generate value through good creativity?
MM: Is there any other way to generate value? Let’s face it, there is a huge misconception about what creativity is when it comes to marketing. And the sooner people realize it’s not a fancy word for complex art extravaganza, but a powerful business advantage that arms you with resourcefulness, innovation and vision, the better for their bank accounts.
ML: The biggest enemy of creativity is fear. The fear of failure, the fear of the boss, the fear of the headquarters, the fear of making a mistake, the fear of being fired, the fear of being mocked, the fear of fear. If you can calm down the clients, if you can make them feel more confident, then they can focus on being successful, being the best, changing the world.
We have seen quite good advertising about diversity and with high social content over the last decade; but very little about the environment. Is green advertising no longer attractive?
ML: That is because we, admen, as well as adwomen, are the biggest copycats. Just look at all agencies’ websites. Small, big, famous or insignificant, we all have the same website structure -clients, awards, work, philosophy. And if you click on philosophy you gonna find out we all share absolutely the same believes. So using social responsibility as a leverage also follows the trends. One year it is women empowerment, the other diversity and sooner rather than later green advertising would be topmost.
MM: I don’t know about that. The best green advertising I’ve ever seen was released this year (2020) and it’s called “A Life on Our Planet”. Personally, I can’t imagine many things more attractive that a healthy, existing, habitable planet.
How do you get things moving on a subject that many speak of, but few act on?
MM: By getting things done. Going all the way is also part of the “Noble Way”. That’s why we do everything we do for empowering women by growing the See It Be It community in Bulgaria and “holding the door” for young talents. We can’t fix a broken system; we need to replace it with a better one. And education is the key. And when I say “education”, I mean the widest possible definition of it, including learning to think for yourself and getting to know yourself better. Our ability to change the world from inside out into a more kind, generous and safe space for everyone, is just a matter of willingness.
ML: There are two types of people. Those who think a lot and do little and those that do a lot and think little. Make sure you have both types in your agency or you will end up as a new year’s resolution.
What would be an ideal advertising world for Noble?
MM: I’m coming from a post-communist country, and I don’t trust ideals. What I believe in is ideas, knowledge, empathy, togetherness. As the wise man once said, give me a client-agency relationship strong enough and a purpose on which to place it, and I shall move the world.
ML: I can live in a world where good advertising is charged cheaper by media channels. After all it all just makes sense. Ads appearing in any media become, more or less, part of the media’s content. And every media should prefer good content, something that attracts viewer rather than bore them to death.