Izzet Pinto and Global Agency celebrate 15 years in the business
BY Maria Chiara Duranti
This MIPCOM one of the most-prolific independent distributors is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Founder and CEO Izzet Pinto played a key role in the Turkish drama revolution which swept the world in the past decade. His company also brought numerous international hit formats to audiences across the globe. Now, Izzet is ready to realize his next big dream as he tells old friend Maria Chiara Duranti.
Izzet Pinto
Izzet, Global Agency is celebrating its 15th anniversary and I remember that everything started with one format. What do you recall from those days?
Frankly speaking there was some stress because my background was not in this industry, I was not experienced at all and I did not know the dynamics of the industry, but I was very curious and excited. It was an unforgettable experience for me, I never dreamed that I would achieve all that we have reached.

At that time, all I thought was that I had a good project which had been aired and had proved its success, and I had to represent it in the best possible way. That’s how it all started, and it went really well, beyond my expectations.

How did you convince the producers at the beginning with your small table at the Palais in Cannes?
I think when you can convey your excitement to the other side, it is easier to be successful. I had a very important project in my hands. I believed in the project and I was able to communicate this belief to the other side. When a person believes, he can convince the other side. If you don’t believe it yourself, you can’t make someone else believe it.

And then everything changed with 1001 Nights. How did you decide to start selling the series?
At that time, I thought that Turkish TV series were very local. I did not think that there would be demand for them abroad and that there would be a market for Turkish series. However, my Lebanese client encouraged me to try it. At first Bulgaria took the series, and it had great success there. After this great success, my belief in the project increased and I sold it to many countries with that belief. As 1001 Nights achieved great success in every country where it was broadcast, its success spread like a domino effect.

Of course, now it seems natural to everyone that Turkish series sell all over the world. But in those days I guess it was very difficult to convince both the producers and the buyers to try this?
At the beginning it was quite difficult because there was no market for Turkish series. However, as they achieved success in the countries where they were aired, it was easier to sell to new countries. The success in Bulgaria led in turn to us entering the Greek market. In the same way, success in Serbia opened up the market in Croatia. Each country opened the door to another country. Our journey, which we started with one country, reached more than 100 countries.

You create a marketing model for the distribution of formats that is an example for the whole TV industry. Which are your favorite campaigns?
Marketing is very important to us. We would like to present and promote our projects in the best way they deserve. That’s why we try to make creative campaigns.

For Mother, we took 100 of our customers by car to the helipad and flew them to Nikki Beach, Monaco by helicopters. At the event there, our customers both had a good time and had the opportunity to be together with the leading cast of the series. This VIP event made our clients feel special and created a great buzz.

We also gave away money to thousands of people to promote our format during the MIP Market in Cannes, and this campaign had a great impact. They made headlines in local newspapers, “Is there a crisis in the world? What crisis? The Turks are handing out money”.

And the launch we made for Magnificent Century Kosem was unforgettable for us. With the participation of 800 people in a historical mansion, it was the most resounding red-carpet event ever. It was a special night that turned into a very effective launch with the dancers, the DJ, singers, the food and venue.

How important is the personal connection to your clients and the stars that you represent?
The value of our brand is very important to us. While creating this brand, a creative, reliable, flexible and strong brand perception was important for us. Particularly important is our flexibility, and we support our customers a lot. This allows us to communicate comfortably and well. One of the most important factors is our strong catalog. Thanks to this, our customers preferred us. The fact that we have good relations with the actors and that we have a supportive attitude towards each other reflects on the quality of our work.

Are you still busy creating new formats or do you rely more on acquisitions now?
Acquisitions are the main reason for our company’s growth. Creating a new format is always very satisfying, enjoyable work for me. I create a new format almost every year. For example, Good Singers and Keep Your Lights Shining are formats that have achieved great success.

How happy are you to be back in Cannes again?
We are very happy to be back in Cannes. The number of participants will be less, but we think it will be efficient. We don’t have big expectations, but we think it will go well.

How did the corona crisis affect your business?
The pandemic has not adversely affected our business. Archive sales accelerated as production stopped all over the world. The lockdown in Turkey did not last long. I can say that Turkey has managed to turn the crisis into an opportunity.

During the lockdown you also released your first book titled In the Honor of My Father, tell us more about it.
Nowadays the book makes me very excited. It includes both the establishment phase of my company and important turning points in my life. Those who read the book witness a special father-son relationship.

It has been described by many as a motivational book. The book managed to be in the bestseller list in the first week of its release. This achievement made me very proud.

What is your next big dream?
Özer Feyzioğlu, one of Turkey’s most important directors, acquired the TV series rights for my book and wants to make a 10-episode series. This is very exciting. My biggest dream right now is to watch that series on the screens. I hope it will be a hit.
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