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The Work That Made Me: Ioana Filip

Warcraft, the Spice Girls, and an AI chocolate ambassador… the Energy BBDO’s ECD shares the creative stuff that made her who she is

The Work That Made Me: Ioana Filip

The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry….
The story of what made me get into the industry is probably different from most of the people you interviewed. I decided I wanted to do advertising when I was probably ten years old, before I even had any idea what advertising was. Part of it was MTV, but most of it was the cable TV revolution that started in Romania after communism fell in ’89. 

In the 90’s, Romania started to get international cable TV, a completely new window into the modern world. And as kids, my brother and I would only watch international channels—that’s probably why by the time I was nine I would speak Italian and English fluently. I needed to learn them to understand cartoons and Spice Girls lyrics… 

But while shuffling channels, even in the days of my early childhood, I remember I was fascinated with ads. Obsessed maybe. I remember wanting to watch the entire advertising break. And, mind you, these were bad ads, some of the worst you can imagine. But because everything was so new to us, I was drawn in. It was something else; it was changing the world I was seeing around me and it made me want to be a part of that change.

So, if you ask me what was the ad that made me get into advertising, it wasn’t some masterpiece, it wasn’t a Nike ad or an Apple ad. It was a shitty Italian-dubbed Ace Gentile ad from Italia 1. I don’t know exactly which one, but it could’ve easily been this one.
 
The creative stuff from my childhood that stays with me…
Aside from Ace Gentile and the Spice Girls, I was also in love with video games. As a result, a lot of my childhood was influenced by them. So if I think of a form of entertainment that stayed with me from childhood, it must be either Warcraft Orcs & Humans (always orcs, always!) or Heroes of Might & Magic.


The creative work that I keep revisiting…
“What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School” by Mark H. McCormack

I’m a geek, so this book reminds me I need to be street smart. 

My first professional project…
It was a collateral, for an international business line for Vodafone. They were promoting cheap international calls with several countries around the world, such as India or China. To raise awareness, we created an entirely fictional newspaper called “Bangalore Financial,” where we wrote articles about crazy or traditional Romanian businesses disrupting the market in Bangalore. We sent the paper to many businesses. As they would read through the pages of wild stories, the last one would reveal it’s all an ad and that Vodafone’s subscription could help them share even their craziest business ideas across the world.


The piece of work that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…
Ads that have a good idea but are poorly executed make me angry. It either shows a lazy agency or a sloppy client. But if you want a specific example, I can point to one that didn’t make me angry but made me laugh out loud with how stupid it was. It was for a luxury tailor boutique who did a series of outdoors that read: “Don’t give up eating burgers, get a custom suit!”

The piece of work that still makes me jealous…
Pedigree’s “The Child Replacement Program.” Great insight, great program, great execution, great craft across channels, and a great client. 

The creative project that changed my career…
I don’t believe one project should change your career. While one project can change your trajectory, it’s a body of work that helps you build a career. My career started and was built in Central Europe with a series of projects for Vodafone and Coca-Cola. We had a bunch of amazing clients that believed in good work and had the courage to go out and do it. I also had an amazing mentor in Adrian Botan who supported and pushed talent over anything else. Finally, I worked with restless, resilient, dreamer teams who wanted to show the world what they were made of and we went on a journey together. It’s always a mix. It’s never a one-man show. All of the above changed my career.

The work that I’m proudest of…
There’s a particular body of work that I’m proud of because of how we managed to pull it off. It was called Rombot—the first virtual ambassador of a country. It was an A.I. trained by Romanians to represent us abroad on behalf of ROM, a Romanian chocolate bar. We had to put together a small, scrappy start-up crew to build it in less than three month from the first line of code to the very last one. The work had to launch on the National Day of Romania. I remember I was a cheerleader telling everyone we would be ready but would lie awake at night trying to figure out how we were going to pull it off. We pulled it off. 
 
I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…
All my “guest star” appearances in past case studies I have worked on. 

The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…
Ziploc’s “Clutter Couture Bag!” Ziploc recently wanted to raise awareness for their new product Ziploc Accessory Bags, which are reusable bags for organizing the inside of a purse.

But how do you make people care about the mess that’s inside their purse (I mean, seriously, name the woman who can find her keys in 30 seconds), when most of us only care about what the world sees—the outside? 



Ziploc partnered with Christian Siriano to design the “Clutter Couture Bag”—a bag made from the inside of real junk from purses. On the arm of Rachel Bilson, the bag infiltrated the front row of New York Fashion Week. Different pieces of film edited in real time then revealed the story to the public. In less than two weeks the bag did a press tour around the globe. From fashion, to gossip, to forums, to trade, it was one of the most talked about campaigns for Ziploc and now everybody wants a Ziploc Accessory Bag.

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