ARGO INTERCONTINENTAL

There is no right time. There is no left time either.
There are only time zones, but those we tame, one by one.


I was the first one to leave the owl's nest, 4 years ago, for what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime sabbatical but eventually turned out to be only the first of a series of working remote annual sessions. Well what is all the fuss about this remote working trend you might (but shouldn't actually) ask? After over 500 days of doing it, I feel entitled to provide you with an accurate answer. Working remote is all about discovery.

Before leaving the obvious aside, yes, I discovered new air and brilliant lifestyles in exotic locations. Be it the Thai islands, the Balinese lush villages, the Cambodian ruins, the crazy Vietnamese cities or the dramatic Mexican coasts, they all left deep marks that time cannot erase and no one can ever take away. For longer or shorter periods of time my office has moved back and forth in between 3 continents, 8 islands, over a dozen of cities, a myriad of beaches and a few volcanos. And counting.
Quite worth it, to start with.
The current mexican office
But there were other, less expected discoveries to be made.

First one is about innovation and communication. These are all about cultures and civilisation. Constantly adapting your eyes and mind to a new environment works wonders like nothing else. Being forced to live for a few weeks or months in the middle of a totally different culture, stimulates all of your interaction skills and challenges your communication know-how in the most natural and effective manner.

Then, its about good design. And this means both freedom and inspiration. And I can tell you now, that the mindset differences between the visionary Bangkok designers and the conservatives ones from nearby Saigon are somehow bigger than the ones in between the Khmer temples of Angkor and the Aztec ones of Theotihuacan.

Then its about great teamwork. Adapting to different time zones, embracing real qualities in new colleagues and accepting real flaws the old ones turned our team into what any team should be. A group of close friends that support each other despite time and space. We got our own personal feelings, ambitions and dreams as a common playground. And our clients and projects as a main goal and challenge.
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We did it, Mr.President!

One flew behind the scenes of a political campaign
that changed the rules of the game or how to design a president in less than 4 months


As Barack Obama once said "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek". Of course, there are many different kinds of change, good or bad, big or small, there are pesonal changes and huge social U-turns.

Changing a president means changing history. Changing a president that challenges history means more than words can say. However, we are going to try and find the right ones and give you a glimpse behind the scenes of the most epical Romanian presidential campaign to date.

It always starts with a challenge. Or we just don't do it. Only this time, it was a very big one. Argo was asked to develop the brand identity and visual communication system for Klaus Iohannis presidential electoral campaign. The first round of the elections was due to happen on the 2nd of November and we started with our research phase in the middle of August. The main competitor, prime minister Victor Ponta was way ahead of us, at least as far as notoriety was concerned and it was obvious that time was not on our side. But the rest of the campaign staff, a superb enthusiastic team of specialists was, and so was Mr.K and this gave us loads of courage and the shared belief that it can be done.

The targeted audience were, obviously, all the Romanian citizens, no matter where in the world they might be, but the specific groups were at first those in the 17-35 years old segment. So we started by asking them a simple question: "what would the portrait of an ideal Romanian president look like? ". Much to our surprise (or maybe not) a vast majority of the answers we got were pointing towards the same place we had in mind ourselves: 25 years after the Romanian revolution of December 1989, the people were longing for change again. A totally new way of thinking,
a brand new approach on politics, a different leadership for a new generation.

The good news were that Mr. Iohannis is exactly that kind of person. All the changes that the city of Sibiu has gone through during his 14 years activity as a mayor speak about a very organised person
with an extraordinary practical sense and an iron will. A doer.

Upon talking to him about past and future, during our starting phase we understood that he was definitely the kind of person that Romanians were waiting for. The bad news? They seemed not to know it. 80% of them had no idea who Mr. Iohannis was! Unlike almost all Romanian political figures, Mr. K has never been about showing off and notoriety has never been one of his goals. So there we were, with less than two months left for introducing our candidate to the people.
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Always glad to help the ones helping others

We sometimes do a little bit of charity ourselves, trying to help those in need and also give something back to the world. Well, upon meeting the people at AFA we were quite impressed, because they do it on daily bassis. And they do it well.

“Aramis Family Association” (AFA) is a non-profit humanitarian organization, which directs its efforts towards the employees
of the Aramis Group of companies from Baia Mare. The provided services concern the distressed persons and their families,
mainly children and old people.

Following the research period, Argo had reached the conclusion that the institution acts as a social programs facilitator
for those in need, the words which describe the best AFA ideology being human, support, protection,
counselling, reciprocity, care and education.
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During the stage of the graphical development of the identity, we aimed to cover all these elements through the bivalence of the generated symbol, consisting in the silhouette of a flying dove and the side face of a kerchief wearing woman. The image suggests the semantic substratum AFA needs to convey to the viewer.
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From verbal point of view, the slogan “We lean on each other” comes to further define the idea of reciprocity on which the whole concept is based, through which the employer understands to support his employees by mean of this NOG.
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The identity manual developed in the fourth stage of the project, settles the two sides of the identity, which has an internal component, meant to convey to the employees the idea of support, as well as an external one, which place the NOG in relation with other similar institutions operating in parallel. Thus we have created solutions providing both visibility (through the oversized symbol on a monochrome background) and intuitive and defined perspective on the goals of the institution
and the area where it carries out its activity.


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The Epic Cambodian Adventure

Our seventh Asian project was epic. Many of them eventually turn out to be, but this one sounded really challenging from the very start. For we have been comissioned to take care of the visual identity of a very ambitious project, of epic proportions. The biggest VIP venue in Phnom Penh, the most luxurious club in Cambodia and one of the major players of the South Asian dance and music scene. A place for the chosen few, where they can feel treated the very way they deserve. La creme de la creme, with a myriad of cherries on top. Epic architecture, epic sound system, epic services, epic guest list...needless to say the name is, obviously, Epic.
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And so it was that we started our journey with an epic research phase on the Asian premium service sector and it`s exclusive clients, an emerging market that everybody dreams of, but very few actually tame. With East and West colliding, Occident and Orient fusioning, traditions taking young shapes, habbits yet to be formed and everlasting trends that seem to
be here and there to last.

We opened our eyes, took advantage of all our knowledge about both continents and it seems that our strong European background and the experience we have gained in Horeca communication over all those years paid off
and blossomed into something...Epic!
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We traveled back to the bassics of Asian ancient (and, yes, epic) imagery, stayed within the glorious grounds of European good taste and looked forward into the future of Cambodian rising entertainment culture. The result is an elegant fusion of all these elements that states that Epic is going to be really something to talk about, dream of and be part of a legend.

We would very much like to thank Narcisa, Madalina, Nivit, Faz and everybody in the enthusiastic and visionary Cambodian team, wonderful people with great karma who actually made all of this possible.
And then, of course, we all lived epically ever after!


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Argo Creates The Most Comprehensive Visual Identity Manual of a Romanian Political Formation

PNL is the oldest Romanian political party, with a history stretching from the XIXth century 'till nowadays. Despite intense political activity, at the time the party called for our services in May 2013, the institution was presenting a long series of inconsistencies in the visual communication, both internally and externally.

Following the research phase, we concluded that entire party's communication philosophy must be brought a consensus and that is absolutely necessary to implement a modern, unified and coherent system of visual communication, no matter on what level. An organized system generates order, which in its turn facilitates control on the ways of expression and results eventually in a distinct positioning and a strong attitude. These are vital aspects in the existence and activity of a political organization.
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The result was the design of the most comprehensive visual identity manual of a Romanian political formation on
over 300 pages, a work in which we have defined, in turns, notions of verbal identity, the main and secondary elements of the
new visual identity, the logo systems, the color scheme, the official fonts of the institution, the recommended visual
and photographic style and many more.

We further developed the design of the full range of documents required by the activity of the institution, both for internal communication (be it between branches or directly inside them) and the external one, from stationery materials to examples of visual style during election campaigns.
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A Celestial Revery - The Jack MMXIII Calendar

Every journey begins with a first step, Confucius once said.
Well then, every tradition begins with a second one! The Owl proudly replies.
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Looks like ending the year with the print of a conceptual calendar is becoming one of our good habits.
The 2013 one was a story about celestial seasons and alchemy symbols for The Jack, one of our dearest clients. Fire, Water, Air and Earth, the 12 zodiacal signs and over 30 delivery pizzas were summoned for the 3 shooting days. And coffee kept flowing together with tears as ashtrays and mice got abused for the next 7 short days and endless post-production nights.
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Making beautiful things take shape and color is great but far from being simple.
Fortunatelly, there is an easy way to it: working with beautiful and creative people does the trick!
For our story would have been quite different without the charismatic looks of international model Irina Magda,
the decadent touch of Anca & Silvia Negulescu`s stunning collection, the electronic eye of Sebatian Tiplea and Vlad Carp,
the always magical touch and brushes arsenal of and Luciana Sasu or the inspired curls and combs of Razvan Miron.



An extra huge Thank you goes to Dragos Manzateanu for his incredible support and,
of course, to our client, for trusting us dream in colors once again.
Shine on!


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Ten Years Latter

We have been designing menus, prints, brand and event identities for ten years now.
Ten years of creation, hard work, freedom and fun.
Over one hundred happy clients in 4 different countries and two continents.
Thousands of printed ideas and messages delivered to the world.
And, above all, one beautiful team.
What better cherry on top of it all than being recognised by the prestigious Art of the Menu,
the online bible of menu designers allover the world?
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On the 6th of March 2013 Art of the Menu, a division of UnderConsideration USA, published our Play Again menu, one of our dearest pieces of work from 2012. The first Romanian agency among the international creme de la creme.
Quite a big honour for a small enterprise that`s all about pride!
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We would like to thank them and also all the people that trusted us over the 10 years
of shape and color for making all of this possible!


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Everybody Else Is Doing It…

…so, yes, why shouldn`t we?
Doamne Fereste is one of our own projects, a fun way of manifesting our thirst for the spiced side of life and the passion for international fine cuisine. This is how the hottest sauce ever made in Romania was born, the first of a fusion food collection with attitude that we hope to keep growing in time.
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Although it started eventually manifesting itself, Romania`s gourmet food offer is still young and weak. We saw it as an agency and felt it as end users…so we decided to join its pioneers and test the tastes, see what happens. We figured we either heat the jackpot or get ourselves a lifetime stash of hot sauce. This second scenario seems history already, since first batch turned out to be a success so it seems we will go on this spice trail for a while.

And so, we created a travel and cuisine blog and a website containing a massive collection of funny pictures, to back our product up and ensure fast spreading of the news. Social media was not forgotten, and soon a community started to grow. In naming, branding, promoting and designing the package and promotional materials, we proved to be the ideal clients. We were quite patient, kind and knew exactly what we wanted.
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But all that was the fun side. Choosing the right hot peppers from three different countries was the actual challenge. Fortunately we did and we proudly dare you to taste the results!


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Argo meets Asia...Love at First Glance

Our first client in Thailand, Phuket Home & Gallery is a concept guest house located on Soi Rommani, a bohemian alley in the beating heart of the Old Town. An ancient street, where the beautiful Sino-Portuguese houses dating from the 19th century are still home of traditional family business, chinese shops and gorgeous places where jazz and blues is played live. Phuket Home & Gallery is an 100 years old building that has been brought back to life and former glory by careful renovation and preservation of every detail of the original facade, a trade mark of old Phuket architecture.
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A short stay (eventually turned long) in one of its beautiful, unique and serene rooms was more than enough inspiration for the concept and design of the presentation booklet we were commissioned. The result was glorious, golden and efficient, as we just found out. The actual result was meeting and working for very special people that soon turned into very special friends. And also a little thought about actually opening a second Argo office in The Land of Smiles.


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Play A Game. Won't You?

We love playing. Otherwise we would be doing something else, now wouldn`t we?
Becoming in charge of the way the newest and largest billiards and bowling venue in our city was going to communicate was quite a thrill. Much more than in some other of our projects, we were not only allowed, but actually supposed to play as hard as possible! And so we did. Free as birds, we took our favorite games one by one. Naming, believing, shaping, coloring, designing, planning and eventually showing off. We had balls, squares and triangles at our disposal, straight lines, curved ones...
and did i mention the sky was the upper limit? Guess i did...
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And although our crew was working from two different continents at the time, teamwork and freedom paid off in wonderful results. For freedom got a name, and it was called Play Again. And we put those words into one of the best logos we designed so far. In triangular menus and supersized indoor signing. On radio spots and in motion graphics. Not to mention the internet.
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A bold “thank you” goes to our gifted playmates, Raluca, Sebastian and Ciprian for joining us
in this ball frenzy where everybody actually won the game. Again.


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We Are Brand Identity – Aren`t We?

One of the most challenging projects of 2012 was the process of creating
the visual identity of We Are, as Raluca simply and brilliantly put it in two words.

But simple things – let alone brilliant ones - are usually deep, just as most truths are puzzeling. And although it appeals to a state of mind, We Are is about a state of being. It`s about control and balance. It`s about knowledge and power. It`s about finding those things that are never hidden. Realities that have and always will be here within all of us. Those simple matters that hold all the answers to the complicated questions of life. Got the picture? Good! Now put it into a logo, please!

We so entered the fascinating world of psychology, human interaction and coaching with a fascinating client
that quickly turned into a guide, then a mentor and eventually a cherished friend.
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Thank you Gabriela for being who you are and for always revealing that obvious yet unseen part of who we are!


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Felicia Shopping Center - Snow Must Go On

Felicia Shopping Center is one of the oldest and most popular places in Iaşi. Everyday Felicia welcomes
thousands of customers that enjoy its unique selling points and offers not to be found anywhere else.

In the early days of the warm season they asked us to come up with an original and powerful concept
for the summer sales campaign. Three weeks later we managed to bring winter in their parking lot...
and on bilboards all over the city. It proved to be a story both tenants and customers loved.
Not to mention the kids that enjoyed igloos, polar bears and snow fights in the middle of august!
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On how you can do such visual tricks out of the blue and hot in 5 easy steps you can watch the short tutorial below.
Nobody caught a cold during the process.



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1st of June - Celebrating Children

Unicef is the best at it, for obvious reasons. So we gladly accepted September`s challenge in creating the largest puzzle ever built in the Republic of Moldova for them. We put in (and out) over 300 pictures, a lot of patience and a few long nights.
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The result were 200 different pieces, measuring a generous 32sqm area together, great media coverege,
an official record and the Government of Moldova as a partner. But, above all, loads of smiles on the 200 puzzled faces
of the children that put the pieces back together.


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Palas Shopping Park - Off the Records

The long anticipated opening of Palas Shopping Park, a daring and spectacular project integrated into the heart of the city, brought along a Guinness World Records for the most sky lanterns flown simultaneously, together with a long series of local unprecedented record figures - such as 500.000 visitors in the first 5 days.
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For Argo, the official opening meant a new record too: 5 new brands launched in the same day! Moo - a wonderful place where flavor and taste are everything, the first coffeshop in a long national chain, The Jack - also the first in a hopefully long line, the most luxurious casino in town, Play Again, the largest bowling and billiards centre in Iasi, La Cupola - the first 5 star italian restaurant in our city and Boltile Domnesti - the only premium traditional eatery.
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5 brands that have one point in common: making a brave statement and bringing up new standards in local food and entertainment market. We gave them all the shapes and colors they deserve, worked around the clock for two months and finally smiled with great satisfaction together with everyone we worked with ( Gavrilescu, September, Fondante, Grapefruit and Rodotex )
when the gates were open. We know all of them knew their wishes will come true.


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Coriolan - The Letters of Love

When Coriolan - one of the top jewelry brands and the biggest wedding ring manufacturer in Romania - proposes,
one can only say “Yes, we do!”
They wanted to mark the opening of their new office and premium store building with a fresh brand look and a warmer,
more personal attitude and so we got engaged. The story started with one of Raluca’s usual strokes of genius
as she came up with the brilliant, simple and lovely “Al tău” (“Yours”)
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Emanuel added his marketing strategies and battle plans, the ground was safe and sound and the story free to take shape.
We carefully put into this alchemy our touch of magic and typography and soon love letters
were spread all over Iași and Bucharest, making people blink and bling.

What better moment to let the devoted Coriolan and Fondante teams know that we truly appreciate
their professional complicity and support? Thank you everyone!
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Yours, argo


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A New September

Our beautiful friendship with September started with a challenge called rebranding. At first they were in search of new shapes and we were flattered. Being chosen by the agency that chooses different is enough reason for that.

We quickly then remembered how nice it is to work with people who know who they are and where they’re heading towards.
And, of course, happen to speak the same language you do. The ideal client.
The results showed up smoothly and in no time everybody knew we were all going the right way.
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Back in time: Mircea Barbulescu 2012 Winter/Spring Collection

We have been commissioned to create a print campaign for one of the top Romanian fashion designers, our long time client Mircea Barbulescu. Inspired by the glorious 20’s, the collection speaks with attitude about a time of everlasting style and unexpected twists of fate. With all this in mind, the shooting concept came up naturally: Prohibition, here we come!

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The rest is history: planning, storyboards, props, locations, great friends, setups, make ups, break ups, flashes, photo manipulation, long nights, late mornings, a crazy party, lots of laughter...and of course beautiful people that we would like to thank: Andrei Jilavu, Murtada Eugen, Gilbert Costache, Bogdan Hunea, Sebastian Tiplea, everybody at Queen's Club Iasi and of course Mircea.
A special thank you goes to our supportive friend, Johnnie Walker


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A day with the Queen

We proudly present our latest creation: Queens - MMXII calendar. A concept by argo, our answer to our client,s desire to reposition the club on the local entertainment scene, get new customers but also reward the old ones.
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We came up with a story about the ecclectic life style of the chosen few, their strange habbits
and their hidden pleasures and compiled it all in the 2012 Calendar -" A day with the Queen".
We would like to thank all the beautiful people that worked with us in making this fantasy come true:
Madalina Doroftei, Ioana Bradeanu and Andreea Gherghescu, Bogdan Hunea and Teodor Morariu,
Sebastian Tiplea, One Models, Gabriela Sauciuc, Vlad Nistor and everybody at Queens.