Hrvoje Škurla, a marketing creative director, but also a hands-on businessman when needed, currently rules the Pink Moon Agency, located in Ratkajev prolaz in Zagreb, with a firm hand. During the 18 years he has been in the profession, he has seen it all: he began working at the 101 Radio Station, did freelance work, worked in the Digitel Agency, and the successful agencies he has helmed include Buka and Fahrenheit (later merged with McCann).
We talked to him at a ping pong/conference table, which he compares to the table from the film “24 hour party people”, since all he does with the table, as he does not actually play ping pong, is get his hand gets stuck in the net, but hey, you are paying for the design. As we were sitting in 1960’s hair salon chairs, assuming there’s got to be a crystal serving tray with whiskey somewhere around, Hrvoje talked to us about his agency and the story behind its inception.
Rebbeca Mikulandra: You set up the Pink Moon Agency last year and chose the Design District for your office, what has led you to this decision?
Hrvoje Škurla: Pink Moon is still a young agency, and only has three employees — me, Kamelija, the art director, and Iva, the account manager, along with a couple of associates. I haven’t changed the management concept compared to the agencies I managed before, but there has been one change of direction, we are focused more on strategy and digital marketing. Pink Moon is a distillate of all my experience in the field over the last 18 years, it represents what I feel a marketing agency should be today – a flexible small-scale system, easily adaptable to market needs. I feel an agency should be a platform gathering not only creative professionals, but also professionals from all other complementary fields that are needed for a certain concept.
Choosing the Design District as the location for our office is the result of a combination of circumstances. I planned on doing interviews like this all the time, that’s why I came (laughing). The reason is actually very pedestrian and pragmatic, I live 5 minutes away and wanted to find something nearby. Interestingly, the very first agency I opened was located in Martićeva, on the top floor of the Ibler building.
RM: What was the inspiration behind the name Pink Moon?
HŠ: Although usually I’m not the emotional type, this choice was somewhat sentimental. It’s the name of a great album by a one of the best singer-songwriters, Nick Drake. The song was quite often used in advertising. The expression has several meanings, it means bloody moon among other things, which is often associated with fertility. Last year, when I was opening the agency, the “pink moon” fell on my birthday.
RM: At the very beginning of your career, you dropped out of law school and chose a career in advertising instead. What had led you to such a turning-point?
HŠ: After enrolling, I simply realized I wasn’t interested. I passed five exams, and then began working at the 101 radio station. Studying law taught me two things. The first one was patience, which I learned not only through studying for the exams, but also because studying at the Zagreb law school involves a lot of waiting in line. The second thing I learned is a lot like that joke about pilots. When reviewing application for pilots, the committee realizes it received far too many of them. One of the committee members takes a caliper and takes a random stab into the pile of papers, saying about the applications stuck to the caliper: we won’t consider these. His colleague says that perhaps there are some good applications among them, to which he responds: they weren’t lucky, and a pilot without luck isn’t a great choice. That’s what I realized in law school, when you get all the materials you need to study for an exam in civil law or criminal law, first you panic, and then you realize you can do without half of it. Now, when I receive a pile of papers for a project, I’m not emotional about discarding a lot of them, I realize I can do without them and move on. In short, you come to realise what is important.
RM: What advice would you give to young people who want to pursue a career in advertising?
HŠ: The type of work I do now, which is the type of work I started off with, is copywriting, and there is no formal education and training for it. For instance, I know a lot of people who graduated from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences who are copywriters now, but also a lot of people with a degree in business and from various other professions. In this line of work, you have to mature through something. I recently held a lecture in Pula on how to write a TV advert, and one of the items I pointed out was: absorb things around you, do it every day. You can’t do this job if you’re a one-track expert, you have to constantly keep your eyes and ears open. People often tell me disparagingly, ‘you studied for seven, eight years”, but that’s not all I was doing during that period. Apparently, I’ve profiled as a person. I’ve recently had a daughter and, when she gets older, I would never force her to go into a particular field or resent her for deciding that she wants to change fields and pursue something else she is interested in.
RM: How do you perceive advertising, to what extent is it an art-form, and to what extent a business?
HŠ: Art is what we aspire to, but the business aspect of it comes to the forefront in the day-to-day handling of things. Our field is always a combination of the two. It’s not like all we do is sit around on bean bags (you don’t see any around here, do you?) and throw around creative ideas all day. As I always like to point out, what we do is communication, and communication always has to be adaptable. Each project must be adjusted, I can’t talk to and cooperate with a big company the way I would with a small client with whom I have an intimate relationship and work with on a daily basis. When people who work in our field don’t understand that communication is also what they do, and not just art, they actually work for themselves. I feel each agency should have its own intellectual handwriting, but that it should never be obvious what agency is behind a particular campaign. This happens quite frequently, which is absolutely wrong in my opinion as it shows that the agency did not listen to what the client had to say. It’s all about a combination of communication and adaptation, although all of us try to mistify this a little. What each client should sense is that we are adaptable to other clients. We have to differentiate between what listening to a client’s needs and being docile. Listening is desirable, being docile is not.