The Ministry of Culture gives Bulgarians something to get their heads around
Issue 3, December 2006
by Ida Daniel; photography by Ivo Hadzhimishev
Ten years ago, the root of some of Bulgarian society's biggest problems was the huge emigration of young, gifted intellectuals to the West. This phenomenon was dubbed "Brain Drain". Now, the image of the brain has surfaced again, this time in a campaign initiated by the Ministry of Culture in defence of Intellectual Property Rights.
The Bulgarian office of Euro RSCG global advertising and marketing agency network was invited, along with others, to pitch ideas for the Intellectual Property Rights campaign in February 2006. "About a month later our agency won the contract. Our idea was to depict famous Bulgarian artists figuratively 'robbed' by intellectual piracy.
Our creative director at the time, Maria Todorova, played an important role in the conception of this idea," says Srebrina Bobeva, the agency's client service director. "The TV clip proposed by Euro RSCG Sofia was also chosen for the campaign. It depicts a brain into which a CD is inserted and taken out before a 'download complete' sign appears."
Thirty black and white faces stare out with stern, troubled looks; their naked bodies are a frank illustration of the message: "Piracy Robs". These are the bodies and faces of renowned Bulgarian artists, musicians, actors, directors and writers who have the task of winning public confidence and convincing people to respect intellectual property. A tough task to accomplish in a country where levels of Internet piracy are very high.
To realise their concept, Euro RSCG and the Ministry of Culture invited Bulgarian photographer Ivo Hadzhimishev to take the portraits. Mr Hadzhimishev's work has the quality of being able to convey an insight into his subject's personality and life experiences. "The fact that I was acquainted with most of the people beforehand helped a lot," he says. "Taking nude photos requires mutual trust, especially when it concerns a message as powerful as this. All of the people who took part in the campaign - the agency, the artists, the ministry - were extremely helpful and professional. And that was really important because I was taking from 15 up to 60 shots per person." He is satisfied with the results, and says, "we came to grips with the natural bashfulness nudity stirs up." As a part of the campaign, an exhibition of his own selection from the "Piracy Robs" sessions will tour the country, starting in the Sredets hall at the Ministry of Culture.
The agency makes use of the possibilities that their client offers, placing billboards of imposing proportions on central cultural buildings all over the country, which in other cases would be unthinkable. In this way, the message "Do not let your brains be sucked out" makes a big impact, challenging people to think twice before reaching for a pirated product.
The Ministry of Culture gave unprecedented support to the campaign, even lending the voice of current minister Stefan Danailov, a popular actor, to the TV and radio spots. His involvement is seen as an endorsement of the project.
"The creative concept and the rest of the work done by Euro RSCG Sofia was donated for the purposes of the campaign," says Srebrina Bobeva. "Aside from the social importance of such projects, campaigns like this present a good opportunity for agencies to 'unleash' their creative potential."
The anti-brain drain campaign seems to be the first serious step at a governmental level to promote intellectual property rights in Bulgaria.
It also declares to the general public, for the first time since the fall of Communism, that it cares about the people who work in the creative industry, not abroad, but here in their own country. Perhaps this will be the first step in a new process that will be known in the future as the "Brain Boost".
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers