Interview with Ashot Hovakimyan, Executive Creative Director & Co-Founder of Zuck&Berg Creative Agency, Armenia

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Ashot Hovakimyan

Ashot is the Co-Founder of Zuck&Berg, where his involvement in both the management and creative processes allow him to curate amazing integrated campaigns for his clients.

Interview with the 2020 MUSE Creative Awards Winner - Ashot Hovakimyan

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your background.

My academic background has nothing to do with what I’m doing now, although I guess you can find similarities between a teacher and a Creative Director. Somehow, at some point in my life, I ended up working as a scriptwriter for one of the local TV channels and what came after was a pretty standard path: copywriter - head of creative - starting my own agency.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?

Because it is never boring. One day you’re knee deep in banking and finance, the next day it’s natural juices, the day after it’s plastic surgery and the rest of the week it’s environmental awareness. Can’t think of another job where you get to explore this many different spheres and topics.

Also, once you realize you can make a living by just coming up with ideas, it’s impossible to go back.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

I’m the Creative Director at Zuck&Berg, Zuck for short. We’re a creative agency based in downtown Yerevan. I started it three years ago, with my friend Arman, who is now the Art Director. At first, most of our work was focused on digital channels, but now we are mostly known for our integrated campaigns.

As for what I do, I’m heavily involved in both management and the creative processes going on in the Agency. One of those is more fun than the other – I won’t say which one.

4What does “creativity” mean to you?

Honestly, not much. Just because something is creative, doesn’t mean it’s valuable, effective or even useful. Creativeness is one of the many, many factors that distinguishes good work from one that is bad or mediocre.

5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?

Newness. Not sure if that’s even an actual word, but most of the time, when I find myself calling something “creative”, what I really mean is that I haven’t seen it before. So, if the question is, “How to make something creative?”, I’ll say - do something new.

6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.

My creative process is a constant, never-ending loop of gathering knowledge, experiences, information, inspiration and courage from the world around me, then using it all up for my work, then gathering more. And so on.

7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?

When a project is truly challenging (and we do our best to choose projects that are), there always comes this moment when you feel like the problem is just impossible to solve. It’s this really unsettling feeling that I’m sure every creative has experienced – the feeling that you don’t really know what you’re doing and every success up to now has just been a lucky accident.

I love moments like these, because they make sure that we never get too confident and push us to keep growing.

8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.

The one word I’d use to describe my (and Zuck’s) creative style is - bold. A lot of our work breaks conventions, pushes boundaries, divides the public and enrages the narrow-minded.

It’s not like we’re aiming to make something controversial. It’s just that the best solution to the problem often happens to also be the bravest one.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?

Definitely. For instance, playing with the Armenian language is a big part of our creative process, especially the everyday, non-formal spoken Armenian that’s constantly changing and evolving.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2020 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

As an agency working in a small country with a newly formed advertising industry, it’s important for us to make sure that our work is outstanding not only by the local standards, but also internationally.

Receiving this award is validation that we’re on the right path.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2020 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The CalenDare Against Plastic is an environmental campaign for one of Armenia’s biggest brands: ACBA-CREDIT AGRICOLE BANK. It started with an unconventional calendar composed of 4 paper bags and grew into an integrated awareness campaign spanning digital and OOH channels. Armenians are using plastic bags at an alarmingly high rate, so much so that this small country of less than 3 million people goes through 3000 tons of plastic bags every year. As a result of the campaign, we not only raised awareness about the issue, but actually got hundreds of people to accept the dare and make a pledge to switch to better alternatives.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

Despite the technical difficulties with designing and printing 4 paper bags built into a wall calendar (from finding the right paper to making the bags come off without tearing the whole thing apart), the biggest challenge was getting the people to care about the issue we were raising. Plastic pollution isn’t the most discussed topic in Armenia, so we had to make sure to get the right message to the right people at the right time.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

It has reinforced our commitment to creating social responsibility campaigns.

The Industry isn’t just there to solve problems for brands – it can be a part of the solution for many of the world’s most difficult problems. We want to make sure that we do our part.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

The creative process.

The raised eyebrows on clients’ faces when they first hear the idea. My team.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?

The weird sense of humor, and the fact that as a country, we’re in the middle of a massive transition, from a deeply traditional, old-fashioned society to, well, something entirely different.

16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?

I have no idea. That’s the beauty of this industry. If you asked creatives this question 10 years ago, I’m pretty sure none of them would predict that in 10 years, the whole industry would be revolving around a worldwide pandemic.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

The only way to thrive in this industry is to be totally, passionately, shamelessly, unapologetically yourself. That’s how you come with truly original ideas. And, no less important, that’s how you have the most fun.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?

1. A piece of (preferably recycled) paper.

2. A pencil.

3. An indefinitely open and curious mind.

4. Maybe some coffee.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

You’re not creative (talented, educated, etc.) enough to make it in advertising.

Never have and never will say that to anyone – anyone can be great at advertising if they work hard enough. I might say “You’re too lazy to make it”, but luckily, haven’t had the chance.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Every person I have ever met. Everyone is fascinating in their own way. If I ever meet someone not fascinating at all, they’ll inspire me to be as different from them as possible.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Fear. I call it the right kind of fear – the fear of staying in one place, the fear of not realizing my full potential, the fear of not expressing myself fully, the fear of not having enough adventures, the fear of living a normal, unremarkable life.

Winning Entries

CalenDARE Against Plastic | 2020

Interview with Ashot Hovakimyan, Executive Creative Director & Co-Founder of Zuck&Berg Creative Agency, Armenia

Our brief from ACBA-CREDIT AGRICOLE BANK, one of the country’s leading banks, was no exception. But while paper calendars used to be rather...
(read more at MUSE Creative Awards)


Zuck&Berg is one of the leading creative agencies in Armenia, working with world-class brands like Coca-Cola HBCA, Philip Morris International and many more.