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In the Spotlight - 24/7 x Radioaktive

With Darko Skulsky, Managing Partner

26 January 2023

247xRadioaktive offers a complete range of services to the industry in Poland and now in Lithuania and is the result of a partnership between two of the world's biggest Production Companies. Radioaktive was founded in Kyiv in 1998 and has produced award winning commercials in Ukraine and Georgia and further afield and is now expanding with an office in Toronto. The company also has co-production credits in the hugely acclaimed HBO show Chernobyl. Twentyfour Seven has 20 years of experience producing top-of-the-range content in Spain and then later established offices in Portugal and more recently LATAM. 2022 was understandably a very challenging year for Radioaktive, its staff and its clients across the region. But as managing partner Darko Skulsky explains, that has not stopped him from carrying on their work through Putin’s war thanks to the Polish joint venture. Darko moved from the US to Ukraine in the mid-1990s, aged 21, and has gone on to become the leading pioneer of the country’s film and advertising industry, as well as steering Radioaktive’s partnership with Twentyfour Seven in Poland to its ongoing success.

So, Darko, how has the past year been for you?

Well, to say it has been a mixed bag is an understatement. Obviously, at a personal level for our Ukrainian team, it has been a fraught year. Luckily, we were able to produce in Warsaw projects which had originally bid for Kyiv, and since then have been getting as many of our Kyiv people on jobs. The industry has been super-supportive for which we are grateful. We have also been able to grow our independent and collaborative business both together as a unit and as two individual companies.

Given the year’s circumstances it feels like a real achievement to have got our markets like Poland stable and working smoothly, whilst getting our office in Lithuania up and running. Twentyfour Seven is growing in its territories in Spain, Portugal and South America thanks to their merger with SMILE, while looking for opportunities in other territories. At the same time Radioaktive has set its eyes on North America with a new office in Toronto. Between the companies we are doing all we can to make sure we can cover bases and make life easier for most of our clients.

So, though it’s been a tough year, we can’t stop, won’t stop.

What’s the big takeaway you’d carry over to 2023?

You never know what´s around the corner...and that companies are families. Leaning on one other in times of need helps keep each all of our markets protected.

What’s the best idea you had in 2022 and how did it work out?

2022 was always ear marked for expansion. And it was not set up just for growth’s sake, but to offer our clients more territories with a strong common denominator. We have been lucky to develop relationships with top-tier creative clients over the years. They are always hungry for more and, to be honest, they are the driving factor in making us want to do more, to expand, to grow with them.

What were the change-making developments in craft and tech?

In terms of tech, deep fake and 3D generation of celebrities made itself felt in a few prominent campaigns, most notably in Megaforce´s Nike World Cup film, Footballverse.

How has ideation and creativity evolved and responded to the real-world challenges of a very challenging 2022?

Our industry in general is very adaptive and able to evolve. Advertising in general is the first to suffer in any recession, conflict or stress situation, but also the first to bounce back.

Advertising has always been a reflection of what is happening in our world, perhaps a slightly burred reflection in many cases. Creativity also follows suit to stay relevant.

We’ve seen some of the darker elements of current affairs and the world's general turmoil reflected in some very poignant work also this year.

Will remote and hybrid ways of working continue to be the industry norm, and how may that impact the work, how it’s done and who’s doing it?

There is a remote aspect to almost all jobs that we do even if it is at a senior agency and client level. Happily, we have seen the return of a real human presence in the video village this year, which is great. But, in general, it does feel like there will continue to be a remote aspect to our productions.

What would you choose as the year’s best campaigns or pieces of work, and why?

On a personal and professional level Fredrik Bond’s Schweppes spot I Like It Like This with Stink Paris is not only a beautiful piece of work but crossed boundaries – literally – as we pivoted the job from Kyiv to Warsaw on the hop as the Russians invaded. Stink stood by us and we appreciate that a lot.

Fredrik Bond’s Schweppes spot 'I Like It Like This'
Fredrik Bond’s Schweppes spot 'I Like It Like This'
Fredrik Bond’s Schweppes spot 'I Like It Like This'

And Sam Pilling’s Election spot for Apple, on which we partnered with Pulse in Lisbon, is just such a great piece of playful and cinematic fun.

Outside of our own work The Mayor of London’s Have a Word campaign shot by Spindle was a hard and relevant hitter. And who didn’t love Nicolai Fuglsig’s reboot of Rocky II for Ladbrokes and Biscuit´s John Lewis Christmas ad, The Beginner, which was just so relatable whilst still raising awareness.

Sam Pilling’s Election spot for Apple
Sam Pilling’s Election spot for Apple

Which Christmas campaign in 2022 won you over?

Heartstrings are easily tugged over Christmas but Brave Face, Academy´s Christmas ad for Shelter directed by Si&Ad did so on a very simple, humane level and, of course, with a strong message

What was the biggest surprise of 2022?

As a 50-per-cent Ukranian-owned company it’s sadly obvious what our biggest surprise was – watching Ukraine go through what it went through. Surprise might not be a strong enough word. On a more positive note, the support we have felt from the industry and from clients and producer friends has been, well not surprising, but overwhelming.

What trends do you see emerging as we focus on the coming year?

We feel there needs to be a shake-up in the brand content that is produced lately. We were personally disappointed with concepts that keep being recycled. We see one good idea and then the campaign will follow up with a second and a third delivery of essentially the same idea in a trend which starts to feel like Blockbuster movies. We are eagerly awaiting the next big thing in creativity.

What do the British Arrows mean to you, what’s their role in the industry and what’s the impetus behind becoming a sponsor?

For us, The Arrows as an event has always been an opportunity to be under the same roof with friends and clients and clients who are friends. Recently we have used our sponsorship also to get together a group of dearly loved freelance producers who perhaps do not usually attend due to not being attached to a particular company. We love that community aspect of The Arrows, we enjoy showing support for craft and quality work and if our work is awarded, then even better!

What do you think will win commercial of the year?

We all had an amazing time shooting the This is How We Work Now, the Upwork commercial for Ivan Zacharias out of our Lisbon office with Alto NYC.

We really hope it collects some craft awards this season.

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