The super-recognisable duo, designers Davor Bruketa and Nikola Žinić, founded their small design studio way back in 1995. As they have been building creatively distinguishable brands for their clients, they’ve become a brand of their own.
Davor and Nikola still have fun while working and do not take themselves too seriously, even though they operate in a very exquisite global creative network. Their team is a rare breed of creative marketers focused on business objectives and outcomes their engagement needs to deliver.
The incredible number of awards
Davor and Nikola started working together while attending the School of Design in Zagreb, and it is safe to say that their work was always bravely different. That approach brought them hundreds of awards and numerous clients who needed the best solution for their problems.
From 2011 – 2017, they had an office in Baku, the capital and commercial hub of Azerbaijan.
The agency, with the duo at the forefront, gained global recognition and was even named International Small Agency of the Year by Ad Age in 2013.
The addition of &Grey
In 2017 Bruketa & Žinić joined Grey Group, a part of WPP, a British multinational communications, advertising, PR and technology holding company. WPP has a revenue of 12 billion GBP and famous subsidiaries such as Ogilvy, Mindshare, Wunderman Thompson, and others.
This exclusive positioning adequately describes the impact of the creativity they were able to deliver, and this time, to the global market.
If you are reading, or just learning and researching about Croatia, think of them as a household and iconic name. Actually, think of them as two unsuited, funnier, approachable versions of Don Draper trying to outwit one another through cheeky humour.
How did you know it was time for the next big step?
Even though our business strategy changed, our core has always remained the same – creativity. We started as a design studio in 1995 and soon realised that we don’t only love design, but our real passion is creative communication in a broader sense.
So, over the years, we have been working with some of Croatia’s and international brands through many aspects of their development, from branding, design, advertising to digital, PR or brand experience.
After joining the WPP, came the opportunity to become a global design hub for the Grey Group, which gave us more opportunities to challenge ourselves through the global market and exciting projects. We also gained access to the know-how and resources of this biggest global creative comms community.
The Tunnel, an image campaign created by Bruketa&Žinić&Grey and Brigada for Croatia Osiguranje Insurance got 100.000 people involved Photo: Petar Glebov/PIXSELL
You work with small local businesses and global brands. It seems that over the decades, you have worked within every imaginable industry. Is there an industry or a brand you haven’t worked for and wish to see in your portfolio?
We can’t think of an industry or an area we haven’t worked for, from condoms to construction. We like a good challenge, and it can come from even the smallest local project as much as from any huge international brand. It would be cool to work on something related to space, we haven’t done that yet.
Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, a visual identity for a hotel encouraging guests to physically express their impressions of the destination, photographer: Domagoj Kunić.
You’re the most awarded Croatian advertising company, what is your secret?
We are striving to do things in an unexpected way.
How do you approach the client when proposing something innovative that can’t be measured by past success?
The most important question is the real problem we need to solve or why we are doing something.
Sometimes our clients come to us with one request, but we end up doing something completely different because, together with them, we redefine the problem.
Innovation is one of those overused words. Innovation for innovation’s sake is not what we need to do. We need to solve real business or communication problems, and creativity is the most efficient path to achieving those goals.
Stina – wine for inspiration | Photographer: Domagoj Kunić
What do you think is ‘the next big thing’ in the advertising industry? What is your stance on using and following trends?
We are not so interested in trends as we are in the best solutions for our clients depending on the situation.
There’s always a new trend, and yes, it’s essential to keep up with them in terms of new possibilities we have at our disposal, but often the best solution is not what you can call trendy.
Good ideas glow in the dark, annual report for Adris Grupa, photographer: Domagoj Kunić
What’s in your focus these days?
It’s always our clients and how we can help them and their brand. We perceive the work we do with our clients as our own, as much as it is theirs.
This is true today more than before because the way we do things now is quite different than it used to be. Today, clients are more involved in the process, and we use different kinds of collaborative tools to achieve this.
Also, today we create not only communication but completely new products as well.
An example is Untouched by Light, created with Winery Radgonske Gorice, which won a Cannes Lion this year. The wine is the first sparkling wine in the world made, sold and tasted in complete darkness.
Untouched by Light: the first sparkling wine made, sold and tasted in complete darkness
How would you explain the impact design has on one’s business success?
Design is essentially solving problems. It helps to make things better. For example, the mentioned winery came to us wanting a new wine label for their sparkling wine.
Together, we identified that their problem is not going to be solved by redesigning the label alone. To be noticed internationally, the client needed to do something unique.
Sparkling wines are susceptible to light, so we redesigned their entire production process and created the first sparkling wine in the world produced, sold and tasted in complete darkness.
We called it Untouched by Light. Thanks to this idea, Radgonske Gorice earned hundreds of mentions in the media all over the globe, sold the entire first batch of the wine and gained new distributors.
How do you gain new clients? Are you still approaching them and pitching, or are those days long gone?
We still use all three common ways. Clients either come to us directly or participate in a pitch process with a maximum of 2-3 other agencies or proactively propose ideas to clients.
‘Well Done’, annual report for Podravka food company with a cookbook you have to bake before use; photographer: Domagoj Kunić
What would you advise foreign investors looking to start a business in Croatia?
Local partners are essential because they are better at understanding the local culture, especially important for communication. One communication platform can work great in one country or continent, but it can be irrelevant in another because of different consumer habits, language or social traumas.
Stay in your crate, one of the first ads to react to COVID in Croatia
You are working with many excellent designers and artists in Croatia and abroad. What is your approach when deciding who to hire?
In a way, we are looking for rebels, people who like to say NO to the expected.
Innovative ideas are like a bum; everyone has one. But not everyone can make ideas a reality.
Davor Bruketa, Co-Founder and chief creative officer, photo: Domagoj Kunić
How did the local Croatian market change over the past 26 years? What do you think is still missing in our advertising?
We have everything we need to deliver great work: talented people, education programs, technology and good regulation. Sometimes we need a push to be a bit braver.
The innovative idea comes in a moment of inspiration, but there are many hours of research and even trials and mistakes behind every successful idea.
Nikola Žinić, co-founder and chief creative officer, photo: Berislava Picek/Cropix