The team of Iliyana Ilieva, a student majoring in Advertising at the New Bulgarian University, managed to win against 37 students from 29 countries from all over the world, in building a creative concept for the United Nations and solving the problem of the extinction of the human race. The brief is part of the Roger Hatchuel Academy 2023 – one of the academies of the Cannes Lions School, part of the Cannes Lions 2023 festival, which took place from June 19 to 23 in Cannes, France.
The initiative also incorporates a training program aimed at exploring different aspects of the advertising industry, fostering relationship building and gaining a global perspective.
The program helps students explore the different and creative spaces they could work in after graduation.
Throughout the week of Cannes Lions, students had the opportunity to unlock a greater understanding of creativity, the world and the nature of the industry, through lecture panels, teamwork workshops and industry-proven mentors.
The Bulgarian Association of Communication Agencies turned to Iliana Ilieva to share her personal impressions of her participation during the Roger Hatchuel Academy 2023.
Here’s what she replied:
Bearing in mind that you were part of an international team, how would you rate your participation and that of your team in the training and competition process at the Roger Hatchuel Student Academy?
“My team consisted of 6 people – me, a Bulgarian woman, two people from Spain, a boy from Ireland, our neighbor from Romania and a Georgian woman representing Germany.
Each of us had a significantly different approach to work, influenced by what we studied at our universities or what we applied in our work. This significantly affects the process, even more so with the short working time we had. Besides these factors, in every team people have different temperaments and you need to get to know each of them well to know what are the right approaches.
However, we were very close not only as a team, but also as a class, and from our first conversations and meetings we already felt like we were part of a family. This closeness has helped us to be more understanding of each other and to constantly remind ourselves that we are in this together.
I dare say that being human, empathetic, humble and always looking for a solution to the problem instead of creating one is a winning strategy not only for me or us in the given situation, but for every single person.”
What role did the guidance and expertise of Academy Dean Serfi Altun, Academy Head Leyla Kamil Baliyeva, and expert speakers play in your participation in the Academy?
“Serfi is an extremely kind and generous person! On a personal level, she was a mother to each of us. He knew us even before we met, knew very well who wanted to achieve what and tried to find the right contact for each of us. Professionally, Serfi is a person with exceptional networking. A lot of our speakers, people like Madonna Badger, Jonathan Mildenhall, Juan and Ricky from Gut, were there precisely because of their love for her. This, in turn, opened many doors and opportunities for us.
Leila was a wonderful tutor who made sure we had all the information we needed at all times, before and during the festival.
Alumni of the academy like Samuil Petkov of Noble Graphics and Amani (the creator of Muslim girl) were with us throughout the process, not only as judges of the competition, but also as people who guided us and gave advice for our passage and successful completion of the academy .
Our speakers were great! And I don’t think there’s any other way to describe everything that we took and went through with them.”
Can we tell you a bit more about the assignment and the client you had to work for?
“Our brief was set by the United Nations and was grappling with the problem of the destruction of life on the planet due to global warming.
According to the scientists cited in the brief, we have no more than 7-8 years to start taking measures to solve this problem, because then it will be too late.
Our target audience was Generation Z because they (or rather we) are the “young adults” or the last generation that can make the change.
The aim of the campaign was to create a movement of young people to engage with this issue, take action and influence other young people to take initiative.”
Given the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of participants on your team, what advice would you give prospective participants on how to stand out and succeed at the Roger Hatchuel Student Academy?
“To be very sociable and open to new acquaintances! And to your lecturers – to ask a lot of questions!
These people are there to share and give a lot of experience, knowledge, understanding and experiences of themselves, but also to take. To take from our still unencumbered by industry energy and passion. So it’s important to engage with them and create real and lasting connections because it’s absolutely achievable.”
What do you think set you apart from the other contestants and ultimately helped you win the Roger Hatchuel Student Academy?
“During the festival there is a great exhibition where you can see the campaigns that received a gold, silver, bronze Lion or Grand Prix award. One of the days in our program we had the opportunity to look at the OOH part, which was shown to us by a member of the jury – Yuriy Gerasimov from Marcel, France. What really struck us at this point was how simple and uncomplicated the campaigns that won the top positions were, but behind each one were very strong insights and ideas.
That evening, the tension in our team had risen due to the advancing weather. Then we made the decision – better to fail to develop our creative concept and materials well enough than to continue with an insight and an idea that we don’t think is that strong and true.
A few hours later and repeated re-reading and “realization” of the brief, the idea came to us.
Very simple, no budget, no complicated logistics for its implementation, but with a strong message.
In summary, what I think helped us was:
A very thorough reading with an understanding of the brief.
We have researched each of our claims in detail.
We constantly reminded each other that this is a team and we will do it together.
We thought big, but simple.
Did the academy provide any post-win opportunities, such as internships, follow-up project work, or additional networking events to help you transition into industry?
“A large part of my classmates at the Academy were purposefully looking for a job and already during the festival they received their offers. In our common group, we continue to write every day and others share how, upon returning home, they receive calls from leading agencies in their countries with invitations to interview.
I dare say that our speakers, as well as a large part of the representatives of the agencies that attended the festival, were extremely sociable and open to us. There hasn’t been a person that either of us has asked on a date that he has turned down. It broke down student/professional as well as big agency/small agency barriers, and there was never a moment where we had to worry about talking someone down.
This ease and freedom allows even the most shy person to “fire his shot” and try out for an agency. And there are many open doors, and they are waiting for us.”
Lastly, how do you plan to use your Roger Hatchuel Student Academy win to further your creative career and make an impact in the advertising industry?
“Since the beginning of this year, I have made the decision to use all my knowledge and skills in the field of advertising and marketing to help important causes.
Our task, with which we won, was in the name of something just as big and important to all of us. We are currently continuing to liaise with the United Nations team and working on its potential implementation fingers crossed.
I will strive to unite and concentrate the energy that I bring, the knowledge that I have received, the experience that I have acquired and the contacts that I have made in one direction and invest in projects that change human destinies and contribute to society.”
The Bulgarian Association of Communication Agencies congratulates Iliana once again on her success and wishes a bright future filled with much development and inspiration.
The Bulgarian Association of Communication Agencies, as the official representative of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for Bulgaria, has the right to offer one participant for training in the advertising academy for students within the event, which takes place every year in Cannes in June. In case you are a student, you can follow our site and apply for the next edition.