Victor Sokolov and Denis Lapshinov gone from BBDO Moscow on the same day, their first advertising campaign from their own agency SLAVA was launched, in which they are now working as creative directors. They talk about why and how they decided to leave the well-fed and peaceful world network agency to start their own. 

Paul Ryabikov: Tell us a little about yourself. In recent years you have worked in BBDO Moscow, and at some point decided to leave the agency and establish your own. Where did it all begin? 
Victor Sokolov: I worked at BBDO Moscow seven and a half years. So almost all of my advertising life was there. The decision to pull out was painful enough for me, because BBDO for me was like home. It was so comfortable that I thought I might soon be walking around in my underwear. On the one hand, this has huge advantages, but at the same time it is a big disadvantage. I was squarely in my comfort zone. For me to leave BBDO - meant to be in an area of pure discomfort. Now I'm in that area. And I feel the buzz. 
And, of course, the main business motivation is to create a successful independent agency.  
Denis Lapshinov: Now, the big brands are no longer afraid to work with smaller network agencies. All brand managers have gained experience with the top networks and begin to think not only in terms of big agency brands, but also the people who work for them, the quality of the product and its price. 

Did you come to an agreement with a client? 
VS: It was more like we came to an agreement with one another, among the founders. 

You are gone, however, and it is great. 
DL: I really did not expect that the first advertising campaign SLAVA launches would be on the day when we leave BBDO. But, on the other hand, I can say that in my career it was the second time I did not understand - whether it will be very cool, or ... Well, we could not be sure, whether the campaign would work as we planned or not. It was scary. 

It is still too early to sum up, the film appeared on the net rather recently (at the time of the interview exactly 7 days ago), but if you look at all accounts, the film has already got more than 100,000 hits. But this is not the main thing. We managed to get coverage on all the "intellectual" media resources. Among the media to mention the campaign were 'Mayak', 'Echo Moscow' and the TV channel 'Rain'. The Forbes site wrote about the Paratroopers that read Pasternak, Tatiana Tolstoy and Pavel Lungin also discussed the film. 'Rain' will put the film on air for free under their own initiative under the headline 'Rain recommends'. In the end we got attention from the very people we aimed to get it from. 

VS: So we fulfilled our aims by 120 %. In other words, we launched a campaign that worked without bought media for the required audience.  

Will you be making Viral ads specifically from now on? 
DL: I hope not. It all depends on the task. In this particular case the objective reality was that Bookmarket was being put on for the second time and had not managed to become a hugely commercial festival. From the very beginning we understood that there would be no media budget. 

VS: There was not even money to seed the film. So there was absolutely no money to push the film into the media arena. All we did was just put it on Social Networks and ask our friends to hit the 'share' button. And then everything happened without our participation. 

You have created your agency and had a great start. But do you recognise that this film is great but money is paid for something completely different. 
DL: We recognise this but we just don't want to get into a discussion about how we will differ from a network agency. That's the subject of another conversation... we want to attract a few more clients, those who understand the added value of creativity. Apart from the many benefits of BBDO, the creative side of the work at that agency, the creativity that is produced there does not give massive added value. There were situations and
it has happened with us as well, when you get a huge effect with only the help of creativity rather than what was planned where there is a fairly predictable process and result.

Predictability has its benefits
VS: Of course there are a huge number of clients that will never leave their agencies. But there are big clients that are ready to look at the world from a wider perspective and leave the spider web of the network agencies in search of new quality. There’s medium sized business that needs advertising. Sometimes they are not so into their KPI”s and GRPs and brand awareness. They are more intuitive but they understand the value of creativity in communication.

We are now actively searching for clients, we have some contracts already signed. There are pitches that we are taking part in. For me personally it is not a question of whether we can achieve good financial results. I am sure we can. The most important thing is to keep a high level of strategic and creative product.

You worked with brands that would never leave you and now you are going to search for new clients on the open market from those representatives of medium sized businesses.

VS: First of all, as I mentioned, it is not only medium sized business...and second of all, it depends on how you service the said mid sized client. Because if you service them like Wieden+Kennedy serviced Nike for example.... the mid sized company will get big very quickly.

To what extent was your decision calculated and how far was it an emotional one? VS: We did not count anything mathematically.
DL: Yes we could not make such a calculation. You can get into theory as much as you want but there are practicalities. We could have written a business plan for 6 months, but we felt that it was more worthwhile working for that half a year, making our own mistakes and learning something based on our own experience.

VS: But the fact that we have people in our agency who each have excellent expertise in their area gives us a great deal of hope. We are confident that with such a team we can really do something big. And in that sense there was a solid calculation.

What emotions did you experience? You left your comfort zone. Was that scary?

VS: No there wasn’t any fear. If I’m being honest, I am still riding the emotional wave of the surprise over the success of the paratroopers.

DL: The only thing that scares us a bit is that we have set the bar so high with our first campaign in the eyes of our future clients and the earned media we achieved. On the other hand it’s a great motivator.

What would you like to wish those who have stayed to work at BBDO Moscow, your former colleagues?

DL: It is important that each person finds himself, so that he understands why and where he has go or why he is staying and working. If we go back to bright examples, Andrey Amlinsky I think has achieved his goal 100% - a beautiful life, a big family. I could be wrong but I don’t think Andrey had ambitions to change the market and some how reshape it. We have this ambition. Whether we bring it to life or not – depends only on us.