Kenan Imirzalioglu was interviewed by Marketing Turkiye about his commercial for Total Energy. The interview was published September 15, 2018.
“We have to embrace each other more than yesterday“
Kenan Imirzalıoğlu, who has conquered hearts with various successful works, is now the face for the commercial of TOTAL`s campaign that was started with the slogan “Turkey`s energy is beautiful”. We came together to speak about the details of this cooperation. Kenan Imirzalıoğlu pointed out that this project is very good for the current period and TOTAL is a brand that can carry such a heavy message that is uniting and embracing all walks of life. He adds that “we need to embrace each other more than yesterday”.
We don`t see you very often in commercials. On which criteria do you evaluate project proposal?
Thinking about this question I notice that there isn’t that much difference in my evaluation of commercial projects from drama and movie projects. I look at a project’s scenario, its world and how this world relates to me. I prefer projects that don’t push sincerity and real feelings into the background in order to put forward their brand.
What qualities do you expect from a brand you would agree to be the face of?
The brand’s credibility and its perception in our community is very important. I would of course not want to work with a brand that is disliked, isn’t sympathized with or distresses people. There is nothing that could economically compensate for that. Because just as a brand has a relationship to its clients, I too have a relationship to my viewers, a special bond. I look into their faces every day and I don’t want to stand in front of them one day with a project I am ashamed of. I wouldn’t know how to answer if people said “We trusted you Kenan Abi, why did you do something like this?” That’s why it is important for me that the brand fulfills its promises, it should carry out what it says in the advertisement, I mean everything shouldn’t be only just a “commercial”. Besides that, the brand’s self-respect is also important for me. A brand that respects itself will certainly project that to its client.
How did the project proposal reach you? What where the reasons for accepting it?
Frankly I was on holiday when the proposal came. The scenario I read seemed very warm and intriguing, but it was important how it would be realized, how it would be filmed. Curious about that, I returned to Istanbul and at a meeting with the advertising agency I was convinced that the people responsible for the creative part of the commercial would prioritize the emotions in the script and that all of the film would reflect those emotions. After meeting with the director who was supposed to bring these emotions to light, we started on this path. At the end of the day we started working on this to show that this country and of course our people are special, so that people seeing this realize the value of this beauty, to tell about the tremendous energy that emerges if we embrace each other with all our differences and colors. The scenario promises this beneath the surface.
Did you expect to have such a harmonious cooperation with TOTAL?
If we regard TOTAL’s vision it wouldn’t be very hard to imagine that it would be an enjoyable and satisfying project. But I didn’t expect that after watching it I would love it so much, feel such happiness about having joined this project. From the beginning I think it was the scenario presented by the advertising agency that made it clear and eased and fastened the whole process. The Turkey that is told in the story, is a Turkey we all love, we all live. The message TOTAL wants to send with this project reflects all our common thoughts. It makes it more meaningful that this valuable message is given by a brand that touches the lives of millions of people from every walk of life. Traveling with the Kenan Imirzalıoğlu car we witness Turkey’s beauty and the natural moments we experience every day. It is a very vivid and beautiful narration. It is a situation we all need to remember especially in this period. It will do all of us good to look after the Turkey which was presented, and each other like that. We will heighten and pass our current energy by far. I am sure about that.
What do you think about the vision TOTAL revealed in the process of this project?
It is really very exciting. I think it is a very suitable project especially for the period we are currently in right now. I am of the opinion that on this point the brand bringing the message is as important as the message itself. TOTAL is a brand that is inspired by the beauty and energy of this region and its people. On its uniting route of Turkey it is a brand that brings more and more drive into our lives through investment and their vision. The stations we stopped at, the recollections of the workers we listened to, the images we encountered could be the subject of new movies. That`s why TOTAL can carry the weight of this all embracing, uniting message.
Behind the camera there is a huge team…How did the shootings go?
I first of all thank the friends who wrote the script. Beside the friends who wrote it, it was of course also very important how the director, who brings the film to life, looks at the story and adds to it. Our director Ozan Yalabık, his team and the head cameraman caught intimate snippets of all four corners of Turkey, from villages to cities, from young to old, from the shepherd to the entrepreneur that touch everyone’s life. Thanks to the harmony between the script, directing and the brand, the result was good. I think the things we imagined at our first meeting are reflected on screen now. That’s why I thank everyone who has put effort into this commercial.
What does the slogan “Turkey’s energy is beautiful!” mean to you?
Turkey’s energy is really beautiful. If we look at it, we see a union of emotions and values in this region that we don’t witness much in western civilization. Yes, unfortunately we also witness the opposite of that. Violence against our women, abuse of animals…And the bad things get more attention and have a stronger hold on our memories. But our country is not made up of that. We create, follow and keep news on the agenda that say let’s fix this, cure this, make it better as fast as possible. We have to keep doing that till is gets better. But we shouldn’t forget that there is another side, too. On the other side of the coin and in the same country there is such helpfulness, hospitality, helping others whatever the circumstances that you won’t see in other parts of the world. These things didn’t disappear, they still exist in our country. It is in our soul. Maybe sometimes in Istanbul we might feel suffocated by city life and feel that we are veering away from those values. But whenever we contribute something positive to each other we notice how fast we can regain that side of us. If we embrace our real values and focus on the feelings of solidarity and unity our energy will heighten much more. If everyone look at his/herslef, if everyone puts his/her best efforts into their work our strength will increase. Because Turkey’s energy is really beautiful and really very special. We just need to concern ourselves with it.
Could we say that this project is translating your feelings this way?
Absolutely…This commercial brought us together because it told what I just mentioned. Everyone made sacrifices and gladly worked to reach more. Maybe the team had difficulties but at the end in order to relay those feelings it was really worth it. Beyond the commercial, an energy, a feeling that we all needed developed. We know how cruel the world can be and that we need to clasp each other closer. That’s why we shouldn’t be cruel to each other among ourselves. We have to preserve our compassion, affection, empathy towards each other and even highlight it more. We have to embrace each other more than yesterday.
On the commercial we see you in the center of cities and in small towns. What did you feel during the filming?
In the process of filming in order to show our viewer the country I went to places I haven’t been to before. We witnessed the beautiful moments we wanted to tell our people about. In the village of Birgi in Ödemiş the nice conversations in the evening, the food, the warmth of the people…the mansion we stayed in transported us to a hundred years back. We felt like walking on the streets of old Turkish Beyliks. And the village of Birge is the center of the Aydınoğulları (the family name of an old Beylik). We went to the highland there. It had fabulous air. We could say we felt dizzy because of the oxygen. After that we went down to the village Bozdağ. It seemed like a village of the black sea region…We were mesmerized after going down from the top of this high mountain to this Black Sea village. All of the team was impressed. We said who knew there was such a place in the center of the Ege region. Of course the sunset we could watch while going down the steep mountain…We really witnessed very valuable and unforgettable moments.
It was a very difficult shooting. What was experienced, how was atmosphere on set while working?
Of course, through the duration of the filming I drove a car. In the end it is a travel story where we witness Turkey and Turkey’s moments. It was a very nice trip. Its shooting was likewise. Sometimes we were hurried. Sometimes we could rest at ease. The atmosphere on the set was really professional. It was a team well prepared and well working. Everyone was very practical, knew what had to be done and was very self-confident. Most importantly our director knew exactly what he wanted. Since he had shot it in his head already we had no uncertain moment on set. When we went they had already filmed a few days. Everyone was satisfied with the work that came together and there was generally a good energy. It was as if it heightened with us. If we look at it from a professional viewpoint we had thought we would film two days. But we passed four days on set in the end. Everyone thought of how to do a better job, not their financial gain. I don’t know if people gave it a name but I think the impact of the script was important. Because everyone tried to transmit this feeling accurately. I saw this on the face all the cast members, the child actors and the friend who was my stunt double included. It was a really nice scenario, a nice emotion pulls everyone along and brings everyone closer in making something good..
Will we be able to see you on television or on cinema in the near future? What is on the horizon?
Fate…a good scenario can really make everyone stand up, we experienced this in TOTAL`s scenario. I hope (god willing) an exciting drama, movie project like this will come. I think everything will happen in time.