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A Polish Agency With A Knack for Viral Campaigns

Warsaw, March 31, 2016

Robert-Digital-Founder-PolandViral marketing: Most want it, few can truly achieve it. One agency has made viral marketing a specialty in Warsaw, Poland. What started as a small agency focused on developing alternative, often times viral, campaigns for clients, Biuro Podróży Reklamy has grown to offer a 360 degrees digital service enriched with solutions like technological ambient activations, guerilla marketing, and non-standard OOH (out-of-house advertising).

The agency prides itself in having core competencies in strategy, concepts, creation, mixing classic digital media with non-standard media, and social media. Viral marketing is a strong pillar in all that Biuro Podróży Reklamy does, as this non-standard DNA appears in many of the Warsaw agency’s campaigns. But when talking to the agency, it’s apparent that the team’s skill set extends much further than successfully mastering viral marketing. With a team of 23 full-time staff and more freelancers that contribute to campaigns, Biuro Podróży Reklamy ha worked for well-known brands including Toshiba, Samsung, ING Bank, and HBO.

To learn more about the agency’s success and unique approach to digital marketing, we chatted with Managing Director and Founder, Robert Sosnowski. With a background in economics and the film industry, Robert began Biuro Podróży Reklamy with rich and diverse experiences. While his career path didn’t initially start in digital marketing, he’s been working in the industry since 1999 and has since then worked with a wide variety of clients. We picked his brain on all things viral, Biuro Podróży Reklamy, and where digital is heading in the future.

At its beginning, Biuro Podróży Reklamy focused a lot on “viral marketing”. How has the agency changed over time to integrate into a full-service creative boutique?

The idea was to focus on viral marketing because in 2003 when we set up the company. In this time we could already feel that banners and mailings were not delivering effective results. We were looking for better results, smart communication, and native forms of advertising. However, from the beginning we had an ambition to do not only a piece of a project but also to have more influence on brands we worked for. So while viral was core for the first few years, we tried to engage different tools and had a wide range impact on brands we worked for. We also designed websites, created competitions, developed advertising forms, and very often purchased media – mostly in the area of entertainment sector websites where we used native advertising forms as stills instead of CPM. This allowed us to generate excellent media results with even relatively limited budgets.

In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful viral marketing campaign?

It is very hard to design successful viral strategy with a brand that cannot risk too much. Working in the viral marketing area, I have learned that many brands dream about viral advertising but when they have to decide they always choose safe viral way which is a mid viral solution. These viral objects are sometimes much closer to classic ads based on an original idea in the field of creation, but tools and media accompanying often are designed in a sophisticated way (bloggers, PR, social media advertising, etc.). Thus virals of this kind should be supported with media budgets, otherwise they can hardly compete with non-standard content in social media – sometimes controversial, drastic or based on very brave humor which often breaks the norms. I find making optimal media strategy and a mix of activities as very important elements besides fresh, brave or real time marketing ideas.

If you could describe your agency in 3 words (descriptive adjectives) what would those be?

It is not easy because because I might sound aloft, but I would say: #different #smart #experienced.

What project presented the hardest challenge for you?

The hardest challenge is always related to time. A lot of things can be done, but when time is limited often times there are big challenges. Unfortunately the marketing decision process usually takes a pretty long and the time left for execution is usually shorter than it should be. So we have fought with time-consuming projects for Samsung, Allegro, PPG and many more. But we always met the deadline.

What is a viral campaign you worked on at Biuro Podróży Reklamy that was especially successful and why?

There were some very good cases:

Case 1: To help launch the film “Superbad” in Poland we made a website about drawing penises (one of the movie heroes used to draw penises). Several thousand of drawings were made and all of them were screened as a non ending sea of penises you could look through as Google maps.
Case 2: viral ads for a network of schools – a joke related to sex.
Case 3: CSR campaign for a crayon producer – entering museum and hanging a terminally ill girl’s drawing as Banksy did in the Tate Gallery.

There were more. We also created many actions with sophisticated strategy, having viral potential and they had viral features or elements and they generated a lot of PR publications like a detective competition for Samsung or for another film distribution company or for PPG in several campaigns and also a campaign for a channel belonging to Canal+ and many more.

How did you become interested in digital media and marketing? At a young age or at the university level?

I started to study economics not having a clear idea about what I want to do. During these studies I realized that I wanted to work in the film industry. I graduated the economics university and started to work in a film production studio. At the same time I started post graduate studies in film production. After a while I moved to a film distribution company where I started work in a marketing department and became responsible for digital media. At that time I started to refocus from film to digital media. It all started in 1999. In 2003 we set up the company.

Describe your daily activities as Managing Director?

I share my attention between strategy of development of the agency and its marketing. I work on key strategies for clients or consulting. Sometimes within strategy, I deliver creative concepts or even copywriting to support the strategy-concept team. I control project managers and performance on key projects. Furthermore, I manage the team and I am in some HR processes for key positions in the company, as well as key contracts (some legal work) and control finances and key financial indicators (I design financial strategy of the agency and I am responsible for it). Also, I am often involved in PR activations as the face of the agency, giving comments to press, writing articles, etc.. Obviously I have colleagues who support me in all the mentioned areas, but still it requires a 12-14 hour workday.

What does the word creativity mean to you?

It means that you deliver solutions quickly without effort. That you enjoy delivering concepts, solutions, ideas and that you are able to do it constantly without preparation. It also means that you can judge even your own ideas properly.

What do you do for inspiration?

There is not much time for reading and learning or following people’s ideas in an organized way. I paint. I take inspiration from everything. Mostly from people, internet, art, from everything. My observation mode is always on.

Please list a few of your favourite digital brands:

Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon, Instagram, Spotify, Skype, Linkedin, Twitter, Uber, Allegro – this is perhaps not original in such an interview, but this is the truth – this is my first screen on my smartphone.

What do you like doing in your free time ( when you have free time)?

I paint. Last year, together with my daughters and my wife, we had a professional exhibition of our works. All of them also paint and dar. I do some traveling, always with my family, and some sports, mostly soccer and squash.

Where do you see digital marketing going in 5 or 10 years?

We can expect that a new facebook (a new, better social media network with a wider global range) will appear. Many users will use several media channels (not only the young ones and digital geeks). We can expect even more video. Vlogging and blogging will be even more popular and top bloggers and vloggers will become media. Tracking users will be more advanced. So digital marketing will reflect this digital environment.

What is a digital trend that is here to stay, at least for the relative time being?

Algorithms of different kinds and AI will grow and will support many activities. This is already happening but it will grow rapidly. However this is not so much visual so many users and journalists can not see this. Also robots are developing fast, but progress with algorithms will be faster.

What advice do you often give to people who are starting to work in 
your same field?

It will require a lot of your work, but you should not be disappointed. For me, a great element of this profession is that it allows you to learn, develop, and understand the world better and constantly. And there is no bullshit here. You just learn a lot and react to this and constantly find ways to use this knowledge. The bad thing in this profession is that it takes a lot of your time. Digital business is new Hollywood, but more smart. Good luck Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies of digital business 😉


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