Leavingstone’s Levan Lepsveridze strikes again

Leavingstone’s Levan Lepsveridze strikes again

“Leavingstone” is a newfound Georgian word, and it means creativity. The company was the first to bring the world’s most prestigious prizes, such as Cannes Lions, Eurobest, Webby Awards, and London International Awards, to the small Caucasian country. With a track record of more than 200 awards, it has become one of the leading creative agencies in the region. Boasting the status of the region’s most decorated creative director, Leavingstone’s cofounder Levan Lepsveridze is a precious jewel in the crown of Georgia’s creative sphere. Recently he has acquired yet another award for his distinguished contribution to the industry. Forbes Georgia sat down with him to discuss where he, his company, and his industry are headed.

How do you feel about receiving the most prestigious award of the Georgian creative industry?

Well, awards are not that important for me because I believe the work we do and its impact speaks for itself. However, receiving the Nika Gujejiani Honor award, which is given for the exceptional contribution to the prospering Georgian creative industry, is a genuinely honorable recognition for me. I am touched. I would be thrilled if my actions contribute to the growth of our small industry. I sincerely believe Georgia has vast creative potential in the global market, and I’d love to be part of the movement. My dream is to see Tbilisi becoming the regional center for creative talent and creative companies.

Tell us about your current role or area of interest.

As one of the founders and Creative Chairman, I am currently leading a creative development of Leavingstone, which is one of the largest and the most awarded agencies in the region. My passion has always been to build and support a team culture that can produce outstanding work that sets new market trends and helps businesses transform for the better. Currently, my peers and I are focusing on growing the agency in international market. Around 20% of our portfolio includes international clients from countries like the USA, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany – Siemens Germany among them. We are proud to be partners with a brand like Siemens. But our goal is to increase the number of partner clients even more and ensure to deliver the work produced by local talent. I keep saying that we’re building bridges between international opportunities and young Georgian creative masterminds who are motivated to learn and grow professionally together with us.

How did you start? When did you realize that you’re going to build a career as a creative leader?

I think I chose this career in my childhood. I was always keen on coming up with new ideas and concepts. I cannot remember exactly when it started, but It’s a funny story. Recently I came across my writings from my early childhood. It seems I have drawn my own alphabet while playing some strange game that I probably invented. Interestingly, there is a signature under that piece of work. The signature of a 9–10-year-old me says: “Levan Lepsveridze, the great inventor”. Obviously, my obsession with new inventions was always beside me throughout my life.

What do you like about your career now?

The same: Coming up with new ideas and solutions that bring progress. I still enjoy losing myself in the process of creating something new that is helpful and useful, something that changes the way people live for the better and inspires others to invent more unimaginable things. I think innovations are the backbone of businesses.

How do you see the creative agency’s role in business today?

Today, business industries are changing dramatically. Obviously, the role of the creative agencies also needs to be changed. It got more visible, especially after the pandemic. While agencies were involved mainly in marketing activities in the old days, I believe more is needed. The creative agency’s role must be at the intersection of three disciplines: Brand-centered human creativity, Digital Transformation, and Business growth. It means a paradigm shift. Before, agencies were working for Chief Marketing Officers, but now more than ever, agency involvement is needed on a higher level. Agencies have to bring creative solutions for CEOs and Boards. The trend of combining Creative, Digital, and business consultancy services is observable globally. Recently, the world’s number one creative agency Droga5 was acquired by Digital solutions giant Accenture in order to strengthen positions. Top consultancy companies are also acquiring advertising agencies across different markets nowadays. They are looking for ways to diversify revenue models and capture more market share of services. It means it’s time for advertising agencies to think about new services.

How about Georgian business needs?

From what I see, most CEOs of large Georgian companies also need new solutions to adapt to the changes. It’s tough times, the pandemic and the war in the region… All these require solutions that need to be invented. There are no readymade answers or previous examples on how to handle the challenges. For example, the vast majority of Georgian companies have the challenge of combining and integrating Digital User Experience with the actual business processes and existing service design. This is beyond advertising and marketing, this is beyond brand communication, this is beyond tech platforms. At this point, I see these CEOs need creative partners, who can come up with fresh solutions side by side with them. Let’s call it a consultancy for designing innovative businesses. It is one of the new services we at Leavingstone are providing. And, I am sure in the near future, all agencies will consider adding top-level consultancy capabilities to their services.

Why are so many business leaders resistant to creativity and innovation?

We are all human beings. Our minds tend to repeat known experiences and avoid unknown territories, because it could be risky. Shortly: we have a fear of the unknown. However, the data shows a positive correlation between creativity and business growth in the long run – 20-30 years. The brands who take risky decisions and invest in fresh creative solutions end up generating 7 to 11 times higher results in the long run than those who take already well-established solutions. Regardless of the fear and discomfort, we should keep reminding ourselves and our partner leaders that creativity matters; Creative solutions are the driving force of progress.

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