Category Archives: English

English, Visual

Lockdown Blues


We had moved to Belgium two weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown that started on 17 March. One could say for us the shock was double – adaptation to a new country followed by coping with the Coronavirus crisis, but it wasn’t so. Some of the components of change are the same. So, with lots of time on my hands and little perception of the outside World, I could indulge in my photo hobby, documenting the various aspects of everyday life, which became news in their own right. Continue reading

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Shantel about party music as a political phenomenon, South East Europe’s contribution to the EU and his roots in Cernăuți

Stefan Shantel, a German musician with Bukovina Jewish and Greek roots, became famous in Romania due to the two very successful sets he performed at Balkanik 2014 and 2015. He is something close to a global underground celebrity – whatever that may mean – due to ‘Disko Partizani’, a hit he launched in 2007, combining electro with Balkan music. In September this year, he released ‘Viva Diaspora’, an album more related to his Greek roots, conceived as a road movie, ‘cinema for the ears’, in Athens, with contributions from renowned local musicians such as Areth Ketime or Imam Baildi.

I’ve interviewed Shantel by telephone, prior to his September 13 performance at Balkanik, for ‘Șapte seri’ – the Romanian version was already published. Here’s the first part of the conversation as it took place originally, in English.

You are probably the most seminal artist for the Balkan music trend which originated in Frankfurt several years ago and is a mix of Balkan, DJ-electro stuff and other influences. Can you tell us a little bit about how it all started?

Listen, first of all I would like to clarify a little bit this misunderstanding. I never considered myself a spokesman or representative of Balkan music. That was never the idea. Totally not. Second, I started somehow my work because I’m an artist from continental Europe and I am born and raised in Germany, but I come from a very cosmopolitical family. Continue reading


The talented monsieur Carpentier goes digital

Stéphane Carpentier by Stéphane Carpentier

Stéphane Carpentier by Stéphane Carpentier

The gentleman in the picture is Ringier’s superstar art-director and a person with whom I’ve had the privilege to work on several projects, ranging from the “Unica” magazine relaunch, to a “Libertatea” face lift. Swiss-belgian Stéphane Carpentier has virtually touched every title at Ringier Romania – and a lot of the magazines and newspapers the company has around the world. He hasn’t come to Romania during the last several years, but his trademark still can be seen at publications such as “Unica”, “TV mania” or “Evenimentul zilei”.

During his stay in Romania, most of the people working with him became aware of his reluctancy to get involved in digital. I was happily surprised to find him at the forefront of the digital offensive of the Swiss company, as a creative director of the Vietnam-based Ringier Studios. I’ve had the opportunity to ask him some questions for The Industry, the magazine I do for Intact Media Group, and you can see the English version here (the Romanian version is here). Among the answers you can find the reason why Stéphane got very involved in tablet applications design, after his innitial reluctancy related to digital.

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The end of print media? More like the end of the print crisis…

The Romanian print advertising market has decreased, since the beginning of the crisis, from roughly 80 million to a value estimated between 24 and 27 million in 2011 (Mediaedge:cia and Initiative Media for The Industry). 2011 is the first year when print spendings will go below the Internet budgets. Titles such as “Gândul” have closed their paper edition (April 2011), while “Adevărul” lost more than two thirds of its sold circulation, since the first months of 2010. The crisis stroke badly the print segment of the media market, because economic fragility became an open door for the politicians’ and political parties’ influence and tabloid content got mixed in every publication’s formula.

In other words, things appear as they could not look any worse. Both newspapers journalists and their managers are depressive, quality titles have very little prestige left and even tabloids can complain about sold circulation.

Logo of the Romanian newspaper Adevărul, as us...

An old logoplate of the "Adevărul" newspaper

Is it the extinction then? Not really. More like the bottom point. Or, in other words, more like the end of the crisis than the end of the print media. Obviously, print will cease to exist in its traditional form. Or it already ceased. But it’s more about a change of a business model. The decrease of the advertising spendings in the segment is only roughly 10%, 2011 versus 2010. So hopefully the market has settled down to 25-30 million euros/year. Sold circulation decrease, which also brings a decrease of the revenues, is more manifest for titles deprived of aggressive marketing (books and DVD’s inserts) such as “Adevărul” than for the rest of the market. It is organic, dealing with the consumers’ interest, to a smaller extent. So these days the issue is more the discovery of a new business model/sustainability recipe than about losing even more speed.  Continue reading

9 mistakes companies often make on the internet

I think it was 2001 or 2002 when I first got involved in an online communication project related to a company (it was Coca-Cola). Back then it was called e-marketing or e-presence. Now it is called interactive, direct marketing, special projects, social networking, PR 2.0 and so on. Based both on my own experience and also on others projects, which I’ve studied in order to be able to come up with good solutions for my customers, I’ve assembled a list of DON’Ts or common mistakes companies usually make online.

  1. Too much control, perfectionism. Successful companies search for perfection with their their products and services, launched in a competitive climate and carefully tailored to consumers’ needs. Blogging and social platforms have a very different philosophy, consisting of spontaneity, reaction speed, lightness, tolerance for error. Unlike printed texts, blog posts can be corrected after publication and if mistakes are not brutal, there will be very little frustration and criticism because of them.  Continue reading

Week 43: The Realitatea phone conversation transcripts controversy

A scandal related to some phone conversation records of Sorin Ovidiu Vîntu, Realitatea-Cațavencu’s owner, and his managers spread throughout most of the 18-26 October week in the Romanian media. Romania has slipped to no. 52 from 50 in the Freedom Press Index, and the public television is planning some savings by cancelling transmissions from some sports events and sublicensing the Olympic Games in 2012. Continue reading

Week 42: Dire straits continue at Realitatea-Cațavencu

The resignations from the Realitatea-Cațavencu group continue with one of the key managers, while a Romanian entrepreneur sold an epayment platform to Naspers. A Romanian cable company started an italian operation, and two advertising adgencies have merged. iPhone 4 is to be available for Vodafone customers too, and Kanal D might be subject of a transaction between Dogan and an international group. Continue reading