Turkey’s advertising sector may be relatively small, but based in vibrant Istanbul, it attracts talent and ideas from around the globe.
Agencies big and small are increasingly centred on the internet.
The World Federation of Advertisers met in Istanbul this spring, and most of the buzz concerned the only bright spot in the industry: growth in web advertising.
Hürriyet newspaper leads the market in terms of print ad revenue, and reports on its corporate website that while the Turkish market shrank 14 per cent last year, from TL3.4bn ($2.2bn) in 2008 to TL3bn, internet ad spending rose an estimated 23 per cent, to TL317m.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe this month released figures that show Turkey as one of only four markets that experienced double-digit growth in digital advertising last year. With the contraction in TV and print, spending on web-based media now accounts for some 11 per cent of the ad market.
One man riding the new wave is Ali Yorgancioglu, 34, whose studio, Dirty Cheap Creative, produces videos for clients including Coca-Cola and Arçelik, a Turkish white goods maker.
“Most of our work is from agencies. We take over low-budget productions, so have in-house casting, equipment rental and production, all of which cuts overheads. There’s more hands-on involvement and more creativity than with traditional production companies,” says Mr Yorgancioglu.
He might have been reading Deloitte’s 2010 media forecast note to clients, which says: “In response to online, entire advertising and ad-supported ecosystems should consider consolidating, controlling costs more aggressively, and seeking new business models.”
Mr Yorgancioglu made an award-winning online video for fashion retailer T-Box in 2002 and has been on a learning curve ever since. “Back then, online work was an extension of print or broadcast campaigns, but now the global trend is the other way round,” he says.
“It’s the power of the internet. Teenagers don’t even watch TV – in 10 years it will be entirely different. I don’t know what it will be, but I steer my thinking toward the extinction of TV as we know it.”
Whatever the future of television may be, it still commands more than half the Turkish ad spend, which is how Barney Fisher-Turner, 32, justifies owning the Photron Fastcam BC2, which he claims is the best high-speed camera for so-called demo shots – slow-motion moments when you see red, red raspberries flying into a downpour of creamy milk.
Mr Fisher-Turner’s love of cooking and photography led him first to become a food stylist, the one who makes the burger look bigger and better and juicier, and more recently a producer. His company, Shoot Food, brings directors of photography (DoP) and clients together from Kiev to Casablanca, and is employing a French director to make an ad for a Moroccan client – a €20,000 ($24,600) production.
Does he foresee his food and beverage work shifting online or on to cell phones? “The online shift is already happening. I don’t approach web-based video any differently from a TV shoot, but the clients tend to. They want more creativity for less money, so there’s no economic incentive for me to use foreign talent. And Turkey has plenty of talented directors and DoPs.”
One such is Feza Çaldiran, 40, an award-winning cinematographer, noted for his work on Sonbahar (Autumn), a 2008 film directed by Özcan Alper. Mr Çaldiran learned his craft making TV commercials and still works in the industry. “I started as a camera assistant in 1993, learning a lot from working with foreign directors and cinematographers,” he says.
One small agency with an in-your-face creative attitude is Daniska, working from an office whose storefront is disguised as a traditional pickle shop. Mutena Sezgin, its business manager, says: “Big agencies can be creative and also do the usual stuff, which is OK. But for a small company like us, nothing should be ordinary, so we focus on creativity.”
Creative can also combine with smart. Ms Sezgin, 48, has a quarter-century of banking and corporate experience, plus a Harvard MBA, and her role is to make sure the business works. Her younger partners, Pemra Ataç and Burcu Tokatli, both worked in large agencies before founding Daniska in 2008. The agency has worked with Lost Jeans, CNBC-E, Garanti Masters private banking, a trendy restaurant group and others.
And the pickles? “At Christmas time we send jars of pickles to our clients,” says Ms Sezgin. “We’ve found the whole analogy between pickles and advertising to be very apt, for just as one clove of garlic changes the whole complexion of a brine, one small idea can change the flavour of a whole campaign.”
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