Lauris Spillers: Excited brand restorer
Lauris Spillers (Lauris Špillers) for twenty years has tried to give a new breath for many brands, known in Latvia and larger scale market. By going against usual practice of global agencies, he created the largest advertising agency in Latvia. Currently, Lauris actively continues to develop his business and to reach the new heights, as well as he organizes marathons.
Leaders in Latvia, more than a hundred employees, three states, hundreds of customers, service export, their own professional cycling team – so, superficially in a few words the advertising agency Alpha Baltic can be characterised. It is true that twenty years ago when the twenty year old Lauris Spillers along with two assistants commenced his business in small premise of Latvian Television, he even did not think that he will deal with it also after a half a year. He only knew that it is possible to earn more with his business than by selling advertisements in Latvian Television.
Now, Alpha Baltic is the only full-service advertising agency in Latvia what means they are doing everything – from creation of logo and ending with brand integration in sporting events. It also allows attracting the customers because the process instead of several agencies is performed in the premises of a single company, by saving customer’s time and also reducing costs by almost three times. Without sorting among customers, Alpha Baltic has outpaced all other advertising agencies in Latvia and has even gone a big step ahead of them – closest competitors in terms of turnover are smaller by the half.
It seems that work in creative environment has encapsulated Lauris in the image of his thirties; nothing evidences that he will celebrate his forty-first birthday very soon. Remembering how he started his business, he does not deny that advertisement at those times was ridiculous – either foreign advertisement was translated or the whole advertising video, where store manager tells what you can buy at them, was filmed all at once. The first years were hard – advertising market as such in Latvia did not exist at all, company IP Rīga had entered into contracts with all TV channels on exclusive rights for placement of advertisements, and also specialists were missing because in Latvia they were trained nowhere. Everything had to be learned by themselves. Only when due to participation in competitions Lauris finally obtained his first big customers LG Electronics and L’Oreal, he realized that it is possible to create serious business with adds.
Fifteen years ago, when advertising agencies, which were the part of global leader networks, began to appear in Latvia, also Spillers joined with his agency to one of the world’s leading agencies TBWA. It was a good way how to get immediately a portfolio with international customers. So five years passed and he saw also the other side of the coin. Work in such a network tied up the Latvian businessman – he was not allowed to offer for customers services outside of strategy of the whole global company, and also it was not possible to go further in the international markets because the other agencies from the network worked there. This is why Spillers decided further to develop the business independently.
Decision to take a risk and not to flow along the stream was correct – from the five leading advertising agencies in Latvia Alpha Baltic is not only the real leader, but also the only one what is not related to any international network. Because giving account to anybody was not required anymore, Alpha Baltic has introduced several products what allows ensuring full advertising and marketing service for their customers. It was useful during the crisis when lots of advertisers reviewed their budgets and wanted to become more efficient ones, preferring Alpha Baltic. «At those times the market fell by about 50%, but we were able to maintain the previous level» Lauris explains.
Then they also commenced to export their services. After winning the competition, now already for the last four years Alpha Baltic develops creative solutions for L’Oreal in the Scandinavian countries – Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
Successful operation in Latvia allowed also commencing the business in neighbour countries. «Some 15 years ago we started to work with partners in Lithuania and Estonia, but we realized that management in both countries is so different and coordination of it is so complicated that five years ago we established our own companies in both countries» Spillers tells. Last year in Lithuania and Estonia in total were turned over two additional millions, and in Lithuania the turnover within a year was even doubled.
Besides traditional marketing/communication methods the agency Alpha Baltic added also sports marketing to the range of their products. It is an idea what was adapted by Lauris from German market. They organize sporting events six to eight times a year and offer their customers to sponsor them. Last year, the turnover of this part of business was more than half a million euro. However, sport is not only business for Lauris – he could talk about this subject for hours. Lauris is a passionate cyclist and has created one of two Latvian professional cycling teams Alpha Baltic/Unitymarathons.com; he is a member of it himself. In addition, it has UCI continental team status already for five years.
Of course, besides all side products the main business of Alpha Baltic is development of brands and creation of advertising campaigns. Recently the most successful projects were rebranding of brands Ekselence, Pols, Baltcom and Norvik Banka. In addition, their offered solutions are not only beautiful advertisements, but it also helps to the business. According to what was told by Lauris, when Alpha Baltic commenced their work with Pols and Ekselence, both ice-creams in the terms of sales amount were not even in top ten, but after rebranding they are in top three.
It seems that Lauris Spillers manages to find the right recipe for conquering the market not only for his customers – within these twenty years he was able to find it also for his own business.
Interview published by Forbes December 2014.