Gabor Havasi has a long professional history, both in advertising and at McCann Budapest. He started way back in 1993, as a junior designer in the above-mentioned agency. Almost 16 years later, in 2009, he succeeded in becoming its Creative Director. He's worked for important clients such as HBO, Durex, Coca-Cola or Walmark. He's been the recipient of more than a handful of local and international awards, being a known presence at Golden Drum, FAB, New York Festivals, ADCH festivals or Golden Blade.
Also good to know, he's on the Single Channel jury this year for Golden Drum. Read on to find out how he began his career, how he perceives the Hungarian advertising industry and what he tells his mom that he does for a living.
I grew up on the streets of a small town called Zirc dreaming that one day I would be one of the Santas or a Policeman.
Adolescence is the period when I figured out that Policemen are not that cool and there is zero chance to be a Santa because there is only one and, obviously, I’m not the One.
In high school I used to be the guy who had pretty good grades and the craziest thing I have ever done was riding from Zirc to Krakow by bicycle. 1200 km, there and back across the mountains - I was only 17.
In college I used to study Maths and Drawing, which is quite a rare combination.
I feel young when I’m with my four sons and old whenever I’m with my four sons.
To this day I remember that I was wearing a suit and tie on my first interview with McCann. Looking back, for a junior designer position it seems pretty weird.
Here’s an old picture of me:
I got my first paycheck at McCann where I had to work as a junior designer and I used the money to pay my apartment and food.
The first campaign I ever thought up was not really a campaign but a flyer for Nestle. Now I think that it is really cool - or at least hipster :)
The best campaigns I’ve worked on so far are the Sexperience launch campaign for Durex for the CEE region, a successful image campaign for a relatively small food producer local company called Hungerit, and an engagement campaign for teenagers on Fanta also for the region.
The project I really wanted to work out but didn’t was 3 years ago an app for Powerade (Coca-Cola). The idea was a kind of ebay for runners where you would have been able to buy running related stuff not with money, but with the kilometres you ran. We were very close to make it happen.
In order to better understand what the client wants, I went so far as to test all the new product range of Durex when we were about to pitch for the campaign where they introduced the "Durex Sexperience."
The best piece of advice I have ever received from someone in the advertising industry was that I should never forget where I came from.
A lesson I learned the hard way was to deal with ideas made for the "creative drawer".
Everything would run smoothly in this industry if only there was less ego.
I look at advertising juniors nowadays and I think to myself that there is a very long journey behind me with a lot of great memories. I wish them to experience it one day.
I hope to get to work as often as possible with clients who challenge us, who think that we are aiming for a common goal, who take risks, and as seldom as possible with clients who want to be on the safe side.
The explanation I give to my mother about what I do for a living is: I’m the guy who ruins your favourite TV movie with commercial breaks.
The brands that have the best communication strategies are MasterCard, Nike, Coke.
This year at Golden Drum I hope to see how successful the region is with coming out fresh and innovative ideas. I also hope to see solutions based on true local insights.
What I don’t want to see at the festival are campaigns for small clients without real business problems.
My favourite campaigns are: It was really hard to name only ONE for these categories. So I'll just give you examples of what kind of campaigns describes the best of my standards.
TV: Guinness - "Sapeurs". Besides the fact that it continues the Guinness’ high quality standard in producing commercial icons, I especially love this one because of the art direction. Every single frame could be a great photo.
Print: Energizer - "Never let their toys die". It’s based on a true insight, every piece tells a new story and it’s campaignable.
Outdoor: Black Sabbath - "The legends return". Brilliant outdoor solution, smart, using a well-known media peculiarity by McCann Copenhagen.
And I have another for this category: British Airways - "Magic of Flying". It's a very innovative idea connecting the physical world with the medium and delivering a clear message.
Digital: Nivea Sun Kids - "The Protection Ad". It answers a real parental concern by giving you a new "service" in protecting your children. Very smart mobile solution.
Ambient: Emart - "Sunny Sale". Smart usage of the environment only for a limited time which was the marketing problem itself. I’ve never seen any great QR code idea other than this.
Integrated: Vodafone - "Ghita the Social Shepperd". McCann Bucharest built a celebrity out of an unknown citizen by simply using the product, in a quite short amount of time.
Unrelated to my job, I also take photographs on film and develop them myself. I shoot human stories.
Weekends are the period during which I’m having fun with my four sons.
The book I’ve read countless times is A Son of the Circus by John Irving.
I turn up the volume whenever I hear a song by Sergei Rachmaninov and Gustave Mahler.
I will never grow tired of watching any of Wes Anderson’s films.
I try not to miss any Louis C.K. episodes.
The 2014 edition of Golden Drum will take place on October 7th-10th, in Portoroz, Slovenia.