»Make the brand your friend!«
»We peel and clean, shred, chop, slice, blend and cook for you!« You do remember one of the most endearing Slovenian ads for Frutek brand (baby food), right? Or the one where young Bojan Emeršič is tasting the cured meat on behalf of his king? It doesn’t matter whether it is a melody that is remembered, or the story, we still see the replay in front of our eyes. Dr. Andrej Pompe must have been involved somehow.
Andrej Pompe, one of the pioneers of advertising in Slovenia, has started his career as project director at the Studio Marketing agency, and in 1991 he founded Formitas BBDO with two of his partners; it is now a part of an international group, acting to this day as an advisor for strategic communication questions. His passion is brands; he is currently active in tourism and he passes on his experience and knowledge to the younger generations with great passion; he is a renowned musician and a very dynamic and interesting co-speaker.
At GEA College we know him as a great lecturer, who impresses the students over and over again with this approach, experience and passion to passing down knowledge, earning him a high ranking among the best lecturers of our entrepreneurial faculty.
»There’s must be a good story behind every good brand.« What good story have you heard lately?
Oh, definitely. In my opinion, Štartaj Slovenija, is the strongest story. The secret to its success is an intimate, individual story of start-ups. And mainly, it showed us having a good story is not enough. You need to communicate it. Nowadays, it is not smart to create stories of great heroes, but regular people. This is exactly what happened at the Štartaj Slovenija campaign. Each participant realised their opportunity. Their objective was not a call for buyers to come into a shop and buy this and that because of discounts, no. The objective was this brand; in this case the trader Spar Slovenija causes positive movement in Slovenia.
Other than that, a story is a first principle of any (advertising) communication. What it is like depends on those creating it. The first story, from the foreign ones, and how it is intertwined in communication, I can think about Red Bull. Stories are the strongest when they are connected to the brand and co-create its personality. In such cases the story is really strong.
What attracted you to brands so much? Do you remember the turning point?
The beginning of this passion reaches into the period when we landed the Kraljeve Mesnine project. A whole new world opened up for me. Suddenly I was given an opportunity to express my creative side. There were 200 different meat products coming in from Emona and we had to make a story out of it. And the most important thing was, I realised, what it means to give value to a product, what I need to tell people to react. These were the Kraljeve Mesnine and its legendary court tester. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTWkOn4NxdI
The other such assignment, which was a great challenge and, of course, served as an inspiration, was the Zvezda oil. The thing was we had to change the name from Zvijezda to Zvezda. I mean … how does one do that? In such a way that the users do not even notice, or at least not find it disturbing. Well, then I decided to not disturb the users with a new name, but redirect their attention elsewhere, while we change the name. We did this by conducting a research, where we found that housewives are not familiar with using different types of oil. Well, we created the Novak family, and each member used their own oil and we portrayed it humorously. Somewhere during that we changed the packaging and the name, and nobody really noticed. This is called brand migration. A brand is something we are connected o, what has given us an experience so many times, the one we wanted and we care if this experience is taken away from us. This makes it a very sensitive area.
What characterises a good brand?
Well, I would start with a name. This should not cause any issues to users with pronunciation as well as understanding the meaning in different countries, if there is export involved. After that the name of the brand must be a great canvas for designing or visualisation. Selection of colours, fonts and such. And, of course, memorisation. At the end, you must connect all of these characteristics to the brand personality. Each brand has its style and this must be emphasised and communicated.
It is also very important for the brand not to age. Levis aged. And on the other hand, Mercedes became a young man from an elderly. We have seen a complete twist in communication in the last three years. They decided for the young people.
Jeremy Waite said that today, compared to 20 years ago, the consumers are no longer interested in their relationship with the brand, but the experience. It understands the needs of consumers etc. How do you see it?
Well, the moment when people start co-creating, being involved and considered, we feel part of the story. And Red Bull is a nice example of that. Unless we are not passive observers, we feel well and do not want to be part of stories only to buy this product or service. We are there to have fun and feed our soul. Of course, the brain processes that information into befriending the brand of that story. My friend, Mitja Tuškej, even wrote a book, titled Ni frendov brez brendov (There’s no friend like a brand), and it is so true.
How do you see the I Feel Slovenia brand today? Did the Slovenians internalise it?
I think we did. Definitely in the field of tourism. This brand was created for Slovenia to communicate on an emotional level. Well, we can hardly compare it to the linden leaf, which the older citizens are connected to, but regardless, I Feel Slovenia is already a strong brand.
You lecture creativity and innovativeness in entrepreneurship at the GEA College. Why are they so important?
I always say entrepreneurship would not exist, if there was no good idea about a product. Of course, you can be an entrepreneur and sell something, which is exactly the same as the competition’s product. But this means more pressure. On one side you need to lower the costs, and on the other side you must have better material. Thirdly, you need to invest more into marketing and so on. And if you have a unique product, you automatically have a head start from others. This is why I advocate uniqueness, which results from creativity.
GEA College is celebrating its 30th birthday. Your stay with us has been very long. They say marketing people need to change environments often to stay fresh. This does not apply to you?
My participation is so fragmented and diverse I can hardly feel any routine. Everything I do I do with joy, heart and a lot of energy. I have been connected to the GEA College for so long and I am glad it is this way. Mostly, if we mention the lectures, I try to keep my subject fresh, new, interesting and different, despite having it lecture for years and years. For myself and for the students.
Do you have any special approaches in passing down knowledge?
As I already mentioned, I keep adding new stuff. Sometimes I get a feeling my lectures should be longer, since I am running out of time. Otherwise, the students differ among themselves, and those who come in for knowledge are much better to work with. Well, most of them are like that. I think it is very important to interact with those who listen to you. I keep asking the present students all the time, this is how I actively include them. And I would like to add one more thing, Always, when I use a new expression, perhaps harder to grasp, we debate and discuss it with the students. This means there is no unknown issue in the next lecture. And I let passion lead me in my work. Passion to share something good with people, since you need to know, the feeling, when you tell people something good and their eyes sparkle, is a very rewarding feeling.
If you did not end up in marketing, you would be a …
Musician. I would probably create and write a lot. I would most likely end up as a jazz player, since this is the genre; I can express my sub consciousness best. Well, to be honest, I still have an intimate desire to be more active in that area. I can hardly wait to start my vacation, pack my computer and keyboards and start creating.
Do you still intertwine music with advertising?
Oh, I have created so much more in the past. A while ago I counted the jingles and the number went up between 130 and 140. I am most proud of the music from the Frutek ad, of course. One of the good ones is also the Kakšne so danes novice (What is the news today) for the Slovenske novice magazine. I did a lot of them for Fructal. I remember how in the past they were large productions, the songs were written in several languages and we needed to record them all over Yugoslavia.
Creative people move frontiers, discover the undiscovered and keep our world spinning. And we are convinced a creative person hides in each one of us. Bring them forth! :).