Milan Semelak: Interview with a Chief Disruption Officer | OLIVER

“Chief Disruption Officer” – trendy bullshit job title, or critically important role for a modern agency?

I think all job titles are bullshit ?

I really wanted to be Chief Mutation Officer but was told that clients will get scared. I don’t fit under any title. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked as a writer, and then in creative, strategy, innovation, marketing and brand director capacities and so on. In these speedy-crazy times you have to be able to understand all industry disciplines if you want to create something that stands out.

I use this skill set to disrupt the thinking of people who work with me and clients we work for. I want to derail creatives with business insights and push businessmen forward through creative ideas. Back and forth. That’s what I do.

“Disruptive” is probably high on the list of words that mums and dads dread hearing at a school parents’ evening. What were you like at school?

I was running around trying everything like a mental person, unable to shut up during classes, dated my teachers’ daughters and so on. Good times.

What differences will OLIVER’s appointment of a CDO make to its clients? Will they notice? Why should they care? How will it affect their marketing?

The way I work for clients is that I try to design complex idea platforms for them.

What that means is that every idea should of course work for a campaign across all necessary touchpoints (a classic big comms idea) – but crucially, this idea should also be able to evolve into a brand tool or proposition. It can then lead to the transformation of a product/service, creating new opportunities for growth. This is what I want to bring to the table at OLIVER.

The word “disruption” is everywhere. Is it just a sensationalised way of describing innovation?

For me the talk about disruption is overrated.

Disruption is uber-simple. It means that you offer new perspective, interfere and change the way things are. People like to stay in their comfort zone, businesses even more so.

One of my favourite quotes is, ‘if you want to really succeed you have to be able at any moment sacrifice what you are, for what you will become.’ That, for me, is disruption: new perspective and action, leaving the old behind and evolving.

What’s the most disruptive thing you’ve ever done professionally?

I created a ‘first central European theme park’ that was in reality a virtual sales tool for media agencies. We built a huge campaign around it and had a grand opening online. People and kids were calling for tickets and everybody was super pissed. But as a B2B tool it was a great success and it stayed ‘open’ for 3 years.

…and non-professionally?

Probably my three small daughters, who possess the true power of disruption.


About Milan

Milan started writing ads for local radio in Slovakia when he was 18. At 20, he dropped out of university to set up small agency. Since then, he’s consulted for many local and global brands, including Allianz, Mini, Absolut and Daylong, and also undertook a two-year stint at VCCP.

He recently struck a deal with O2 in Czech Republic and Slovakia, pioneering the in-house agency model in Central & Eastern Europe. This led to his opening of OLIVER Prague and OLIVER Bratislava in early 2016, with O2 as the founding client.

As Chief Disruption Officer for OLIVER, Milan’s own extensive in-house experience is now helping the company’s mission to produce better, faster work for clients through a uniquely disruptive model and approach.

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