Czech advertising has been on fast-forward since the Velvet Revolution of 1989. In the ensuing 20 years Czech advertising proved to mirror the rush to embrace western ideals while holding fast to Czech heritage. With skepticism abound that was no easy task.
To learn just how challenging a task it was we spent Friday morning with two giants from those early years: Ladislav Kopecky and Jiri Mikes. Both were at the forefront of bringing western style branding into the Czech marketplace. In those early years Kopecky created a documentary tracking the evolution of the Czech Republic to a free market. From 1994-98, he served at Director of Lintas, Prague. Mikes founded the Prague office of McCann-Erickson in 1989 and later work as a global consultant to the Czech government. Together, while working at McCann, they won an Effie for their work on Hami.
They shared their passion for advertising through historical case studies that illustrated the importance of cultural branding — branding that respects the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances of culture. Kopecky enlightened us with the back-story of a highly skeptical Czech consumer thrust into a free market economy. Mikes inspired us with a presentation on sustainability and the absolutely essential role that corporate social responsibility must play in the future.
Today they share their wisdom with a new generation of Czech advertising and marketing students — and a few very lucky students who visit from aboard. Kopecky is affiliated with with Charles University, while Mikes is with the University of Economics.
Our wonderful hosts Vice-Dean Vaclav Kaspar and Premysl Prusa from the University of Economics made us feel most welcome. Prusa presented his research on wine retailing in the Czech Republic, as we sampled the topic at hand. And after a meeting with Vice–Dean Kaspar it’s clear that richer opportunities lie ahead for our two institutions.
And so, to my Czech colleagues in this lovely Prague spring I say, “děkuji”