We caught up with Renato Tata, Head Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather Albania who initiated Design Overview In Tirana (aka DOIT), a conference that instills and celebrates creativity in Albania.
What sets Albania apart in terms of creativity?
The creative industry in Albania is in the infant stage. It’s easy to understand that there is no advertising history. Role models and pop culture were missing and young people didn’t have any reference from the past. Advertising-wise, Ogilvy & Mather Albania was established only in 2006.
Also, I believe that there is a lack of education; schools and educational institutions that would teach advertising and design. Of course the Academy of Arts is trying hard and is doing its best, but they talk fine arts, not advertising, communication design, or marketing. There are some private universities that promise to teach advertising in “one lesson”, but this is not something you can take seriously. These institutions should invest in creating a complete programme of studies with experienced teachers that have worked and lived abroad. In the same way that ad agencies are doing right now, they need to import talented people who can teach and lead the next generation.
On the other hand, and this may sound a bit harsh, in Albania sometimes we fight even for our basic needs. Supporting the family is a major priority. Creativity comes second. I don’t blame anyone. I wouldn’t do that. It’s like expecting a little kid that has not yet learned to walk, to be a sprinter and run like Usain Bolt. He might be a great sprinter in the future, but he needs time to learn, practice and grow. And for sure he needs someone to lead the way. The fact that experienced people have entered the local market helps to make this process faster, but it still needs time. I believe our time is now.
What are the current challenges?
During communism we were forced to work together. Then, suddenly we had so much freedom and in a way, we didn’t know how to deal with it. We went from one extreme to the other: individualism. I think this is the first challenge, bringing people together to collaborate for one common goal.
Opening a creative conversation is essential. People should believe in a brighter future for Albania and it’s creative scene. We have to raise the standards and to put Albania on the map, as an active part of the European creative industry, with a visible presence in festivals and awards.
How is your vision for DOIT helping drive creativity in Albania?
They say, “If you don’t look where you want to go you will go where you are looking at”. But at this point we have to be honest. Until recently we didn’t have anything to look at. And it’s crucial to open your eyes first and your mind, to look around and to understand where you stand. Then you see the possibilities.
I have no illusions. I know it’s not easy but I have a clear vision; to change the Advertising & Design Industry in the country and to enhance it’s development. We cannot change this in one day, absolutely not. But inspiration is the first step and “one step starts the journey of a thousand miles”. Then, bringing the experience of the best professionals in Europe to the local market will help the people in the local creative industry to raise the bar on their professional and personal goals. After only four-and-a-half years of great work, I’ve seen things starting to pick up. The Albanian creative community is growing and I feel very proud of my part in driving the change.