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The Essential List

The Essential List: Levente Kovacs

White Rabbit’s Founding Partner and ECD on eavesdropping, folk dancing and his mother’s unbeatable cooking

The Essential List: Levente Kovacs

If you want to make the most out of your time in Budapest, take a leaf out of Alice’s book and follow the White Rabbit. White Rabbit the agency, that is. Levente Kovacs is the Founding Partner and ECD of the Hungary-based indie agency.

He co-founded the agency 11 years ago after stints at HKB Bozell and JWT Budapest, where he was a creative group head. During his career he’s achieved several ‘firsts’ for the Hungarian industry – including the first Hungarian piece of work to make the cover of Luerzer’s Archive and winning the country's first Platina Effie for long-term effectiveness.

And, like the best people in the business, he’s truly passionate about what he does. A guest lecturer at the Faculty of International Management and Business of Budapest’s Business University, he also runs a blog about advertising history (“Reklamtortenet” - Advertising Chronicles) and translates marketing and advertising books into Hungarian. 


o Place of birth: Budapest
o Hometown: Martonvasar – a small town famous for the beautiful castle of the Brunswick family, built in the 18th century. 

o Staycation: Lake Balaton – the Hungarian Sea – is pretty cool in the summer. 
o Vacation: My wife knows better
o Place of work: A small room, about 1,200cm3. It just fits into my skull. Sometimes chaotic, but that’s still manageable
o Place of workout: Could be anywhere. I just follow my two training partners (below)

o Mode of transport: Tram, Tube. Depends on the mood
o Miscellaneous Travel Essential: Earphones, always plugged in – with the music turned off. Nice little device for eavesdropping


o Artist: Leonardo Da Vinci. The perfect Renaissance Man
o Musician: Ludwig van Beethoven. He visited Martonvasar (see: Hometown) a couple of times, where he finished his famous Appassionata sonata

o Writer: Jorge Luis Borges  
o Playwright: Anton Chekhov (no, not from Star Trek), David Mamet, György Spiró (his “Chickenhead” is a must-read not just for Hungarians)
o Commercials director: Frank Budgen
o Film director: Alfred Hitchcock
o Ad Man: Howard Gossage
o Photographer: Henri Cartier-Bresson 
o Film: The Fifth Seal by Zoltán Fábri (But speaking of seals, The seventh by Bergman is another classic)
o Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius; Alain de Botton
o Series: Stranger Things, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 24 
o Commercial: Double Life (Playstation)

o Music Video: Weapon of Choice. Or any other Fatboy Slim video. Choose yours

o Book: School at the Frontier by Géza Ottlik (another introduction to the Hungarian mindset)
o Newspaper (online): The New Yorker; The Guardian 
o Miscellaneous Art: Hungarian folk music and dance (being a former folk dancer myself)

Food and Drink

o Restaurant: Porcellino. Nice, reliable Italian Ristorante
o Cheap bite: Zing burger
o Working lunch: Fat Mama. Just opposite the Hungarian Museum of Electrotechnics with cool neon shop signs displayed in its courtyard. Might be an advertising coincidence
o Dish: Hungarian layered potato. No one makes it like my Mom did
o Guilty Pleasure: Rákóczi’s cake with cottage cheese. It’s a national speciality: a new level of Hungarian pies (Made by The Sweet cake shop)

o Bar: Wherever they serve…
o Tipple: …a good pint of fresh draft lager
o Soft Tipple: Tea. Black. English.
o Miscellaneous Beverage: Snapple, Coke


o Phone: iPhone
o Computer: I’m a slave of the Apple autocracy
o TV: Sony Bravia. A million coloured bouncy balls went loose in San Francisco one day. One of them hit me

o Headphones: iPhone 
o Where you document an idea: Evernote, Paper53, Moleskine
o Watch: No need to remind myself of the passing time
o App: Kindle
o Blog: My own. It focuses on advertising history. (What a surprise!)

o Work program: Word, Keynote, Final Cut Pro, Fade In
o Analogue work tool: A pencil and a piece of paper
o Miscellaneous Kit Essential: A book can always fit into a pocket