I am sitting in Montreal, Quebec working with a colleague in Toronto, Ontario serving a client in Edmonton Alberta whose head office is in London, England. I work in marketing communications formerly known as advertising. But with so much of my work now being online, I am hesitant to say I work in advertising because I fear people will think I don’t do online creative which I do. I build and design websites for clients and have much of the backend refining done in Estonia and India.
I could say I work in multi-media creative communications but that sounds both pompous and confusing.
Although I hold a degree in film and photography, my career has been as a writer. Historically, writers pair up with art directors and/or designers and who collectively come up with creative ideas that must express the creative strategy (what we are saying?) with hopefully an engaging way to express the strategy (how are we saying it?).
Right now I am working for a mattress manufacturer which may sound boring (and most mattress advertising is both boring and cliched) but this particular brand has an interesting niche. It holds the Royal Warrant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and has for forty years. If you’re ever in the market for a $36,000 mattress, I can tell you where to find one. More importantly, I can tell you why you should buy one should you be someone who has $36,000 to spend on a mattress.
While my strategic partner is in Toronto, the client in Edmonton and the head office in London, the art directors I chose to work with are in Budapest. The company is STEG. And I have been fortunate to work with them for going on seven years.
Coming from North America, one of the first things I realized once I was settled in Budapest was the difference between societies in North America and Hungary when it came to ‘creative’ expression and creative people.
I lived in Budapest for three years and one of the first things that struck me was not just the level of creativity but its pervasive presence throughout its society.
I have spend my career in “creative departments” and my mantra that creative is not a department, has been met with a yawn, albeit a polite yawn.
So the integrated ‘creative’ spirit in Hungarian culture did not go un-noticed. In fact, at one point, I had the grandiose idea of uniting Budapest’s creative departments into one to market in North America. So I had the pleasure to meet many creative people here who work in my field and could not believe the calibre of talent available.
In the course of doing business and day-to-day living business here, I discovered so many people who, while holding a job in one thing, were exceptionally creative in other aspects.
While renovating an apartment, my renovator was resourceful, creative, honest (yes, you heard me) but he did his renovating work with us early in the morning, assigning his teams their daily tasks and in the evening, reviewing the days work. The reason he was a morning and evening person is because he is an economist by day with the Ministry of Finance, a job I would not wish on anyone in Hungary. Yet he was always cheerful and extremely polite and had a quality I cherish: a sense of humour.
Creativity in North American can be somewhat compartmentalized. We have a museum here, a concert there, a street festival springing up in the spring and Canada (Montreal, to be precise) is the home of Cirque de Soleil. In Budapest, creativity seems more ingrained in the daily fabric of life. It feels like the creative spirit in engrained in almost everyone you meet.
In a country where it is difficult to earn a living solely on creative talents, it is not uncommon to find what might appear to be very common people with uncommon skills and talents. I used to stand under the window of what I think was our apartment building superintendent listening to him play the piano. Often I would clap when he was finished.
The creative spirit is inherent in the Hungarian culture. Creatively, nothing here should surprise you. Your plumber may be a plumber by day and a virtuoso by night. That art and creativity is everywhere in Hungary speaks volumes about the country and the people we know as The Hungarians.