Global Headline Makers: MullenLowe Istanbul’s Can Faga Posted on

“Ideas are one thing, but what you really need to create a great ad is time,” says Can Faga, Chief Creative Officer at MullenLowe Istanbul. “In Turkey, when you get a brief, the client wants something the next day. My inbox is full of urgent requests – the word urgent has lost its meaning.”

Can (pronounced “John”) is on a mission to encourage clients to appreciate craft. In other words, to give him more time. The agency won two Grand Prix at the local Kristal Elma (Crystal Apple) festival, for the Turkish Airlines spot “Dreams” (which went on to win the Grand Prix at the Golden Drum awards and a Bronze at Epica) and the Omo print campaign “Fairy Tales” (a silver winner at Epica).

“On the face it of it they have little in common,” says Can. “One is a film for a local client, the other is more international, with a Brazilian illustrator. But what they share is attention to detail. We really care about craft.”

The Turkish Airlines spot, particularly, has had a big impact on the market. “It’s a milestone, and I think it’s going to change attitudes. Friends of mine who work at other agencies ring up annoyed with me because their clients are asking for something similar.”

Can started out as an intern at Ogilvy Istanbul, before moving on to McCann and then DDB. He arrived at MullenLowe when his DDB colleague Ela Gökkan became CEO – and radically changed the agency.

“There was a huge restructuring; about 80% of the agency staff changed. That’s when I got the call – it was like Ocean’s Eleven.”

A raft of successful pitches led to the agency working for the majority of Unilever’s brands in Turkey – including Omo, Domestos and Magnum. It also won SEAT cars six months ago. So apart from its commitment to craft, what are the other secrets of the agency’s success?

“When I look at commercials from agencies here, often I can tell who did them, because they have their own language. I kind of hate that. Our work should express the identity of the brand, not the agency.”

He insists that Istanbul agencies have a highly developed sense of humour and are full of big ideas. “But they can be terrible at executing them. That’s what we’re trying to change here. We took three months to produce the Turkish Airlines spot. That never happens.”

Is this something to do with the pace of life in Istanbul itself, one of the world’s most dramatic and constantly evolving cities? “It could be: I read somewhere that, in terms of news events, more happens in Turkey in a day than Sweden in a year!”

Perhaps MullenLowe Istanbul clients will just have to bite their nails for a few weeks – and then wait for the prizes to roll in.

By Mark Tungate, Editorial Director, Epica

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