Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
Yesterday and today (Wednesday and Thursday) I’m in Belgrade. This trip will conclude my book of travel warrants for this year.
The first meeting I had was in McCann Belgrade with Marija Vićić and Danijela Šćepanović. Danijela runs finances at the I&F McCann Group, so we drew the line on our balance sheets and finished this year as far as finances are concerned. As always, I’m happy with the cooperation with McCann. Afterwards, Danijela, Marija and I talked about the regional advertising scene. We all share our own take, and we agree that the year was quite rich in terms of creativity. McCann people are very pleased with it, especially with Eurobest awards, as they are the first ones in Serbia to bring the Grand Prix from this prestigious competition. Marija is interested how preparations are going for the second edition of the Creative Portfolio. She asked me when the book website that I promised a few months ago will be launched. Yesterday morning, just before leaving for Belgrade, I had a meeting with the complete creative and digital team and after a few last minute adjustments approved the release of the site. I was promised that the site will be live before I reach Belgrade. And when Marija asked me about it, I told her “Now you’ll be the first to see it.” But no go. The URL still said “under construction”. We also discussed our cooperation in the next year. I&F McCann Group is our strategic partner and of course it is important for us to know what is our situation in their plans for the next year. It’s all O.K.
From McCann, I went to New Moment to meet with Žarko Sakan. New Moment is also our strategic partner. I also talked to Žarko about his impressions of the regional scene, about the awards they won this year at all the festivals they participated, including Cannes and Eurobest. Žarko has very interesting observations about our industry that are slightly different from my own, which is normal. There is big generational difference between us. Despite the fact that I always fight for my views, I acknowledged Žarko was right on all points we had differing opinions. He was simply right. We geezers might be more experienced, but the younger are smarter. We talked about what we would be doing in the next year. New Moment generally supports all of our projects so we didn’t spend much time on details. The important thing is that we are continuing cooperation! As we were saying goodbye, he asked me “Where to next?” “To lunch with Andrej Bele.” I said. “You have to meet him, he is a big shot in Belgrade,” Žarko said, not knowing that Andrej and I were connected by events of 24 years ago. Even I didn’t know it until we sat at the restaurant Privrednik in Dedinje – a club founded by Belgrade managers to have their own place for a pleasant conversation and a top-quality catering offer.
Anyway, a few years ago, at the promotion of Grand kafa in Sarajevo’s Coloseum, I met Andrej for the first time. Director of the Strategic Sector of Coffee at Atlantic Grupa, Andrej was based in Belgrade. Samir Korić, CEO of Pristop, introduced us. As I shook his hand I told him my name, but he just said: “We know each other from Planica.” I immediately liked him, because I’m a great fan of Planica, and everyone who had anything to do with Planica is “my guy”. Although I have good memory, I couldn’t remember Andrek, and I should remember him (I perfectly remember all that happened 20, 30 or 50 years ago. What I do have problems remembering is what I had for lunch yesterday.)
As soon as we sat down for lunch I asked Andreja to remind me of our meeting at Planica. “I don’t think we personally met back in 1994, when Planica hosted the World Cup in ski jumps, but I remembered your name well. Back then I was the Sales Director of Donat, and my CEO gave me a letter that he received. He told me to make it happen. I remember that the letter was from the Manager Magazine, and that your signature on it. I remembered the name because it sounded unusual for Slovenia,” Andrej explained.
Allow me to refresh your memory dear readers. In February 1994, Planica hosted the World Cup in ski jumps. A couple of months before that, media reported that Slovenia would most likely give up on organization of the championship, as the organizational committee lacked 200,000 deutschmarks, which they couldn’t secure. It was big money for Slovenia, whose managers one evening went to sleep in a market of twenty million people, and woke up the next morning in a market of two million people when Slovenia seceded from Yugoslavia. As one of the biggest friends of Planica outside of Slovenia (for years I brought the biggest Yugoslavian sponsors to the jumps), I couldn’t let that happen. As soon as I heard the news (at the time I was a refugee in Ljubljana), I went to Slobodan Sibinčić, Director, and Dušan Snoj, Editor-in-Chief of the Gospodarski vjesnik publishing house, with whom I worked well and told them that this was a great challenge for their Manager magazine. “This is your chance to show what you can do as publishers of the magazine for Slovene managers.” I quickly created the project Slovenian managers for Slovenia’s success. Futura DDB designed communication materials. I even wrote the catch line “If it happens, it will take place at the official training – flight over the 200-meter limit.” I knew that for two years jumpers were trying to fly over the 200 meter mark, and that all of these attempts failed, often with severe consequences. I was sure that Planica was ready for the record and that FIS (World Skiing Federation) would immediately shorten the in-run if someone in the official training jumps over 200 meters, in order to reduce the appetites of the bravest. That’s exactly what happened. First, a Finn hit 203 meters, then a Norwegian went to 204 meters. Planica had entered into the history of ski jumps, because the jumps on the official training count if the record is broken. The in-run was immediately shortened, and the longest flight in the finals was somewhere around 195 mark I believe.
That’s the project that was mentioned in the letter from Manager magazine, signed by me, received by Andrej’s director and passed on to him.
Of course, over lunch we immediately resumed the talk about Planica, which he regularly went to every year. We both knew all the people from the organizational structures, so we talked about them. When I mentioned the name of Mitja Jager, the marketing team leader, Andrej said of course he knows him, and has his number in his cell phone, but he hasn’t heard from him in years. We wondered if he was still alive. “We’ll check right now,” Andrej said, dialing the phone number. When Mitja answered, thrilled to hear Andrej’s voice after so long, after a couple of sentences Adnrej passed the phone to me. I was delighted to hear him. I think both of us had watery eyes. At one point, Mitja said: “I remember when the records were broken that you organized a dinner for a couple of us, that you ordered two bottles of champagne and told us that we Slovenes are complete idiots. That Slovenia is a small, small dot on the world map, but that we still have things to be proud of, because no one else has them, and that Planica is one of those things and that we have to nurture it.” We talked for a couple of minutes and ended with a deal that on January 9, when I will be in Ljubljana for the 60th anniversary of the newspaper company Delo, we will meet for lunch. He asked me if he could bring Tomaž Teger? And then I completely broke. I haven’t heard anything about him for twenty years. At that time, Teger was my best friend in Slovenia, and was a member of the marketing team of Planica. In 1990, when we were opening the office of the Yugoslav-Swiss marketing agency IMS / Studio 6 in Ljubljana, in which I was the Director, I invited Tomaž Teger to be our Slovenian director. I was very happy that Mitja mentioned him. And a thing about Mitja, he’s a big joker. When I asked him, “My god, is Teger still alive,” Mitja replied, “Unfortunately,” and started laughing.
The talk with Andrej continued, coupled with excellent food and wine. Whoever I mentioned, Andrej knew them. And I knew most of the people he mentioned. When we came to Viktorija Radojević Mavrič, whom Andrej praised to the heavens, I sent her a text with greetings from our lunch, and Andrej sent her a picture of a plate of sarma. She received both in the middle of Mercator’s Supervisory Board session.
The talk just built further minute by minute. We’ve discovered many things that connect us, without ever meeting directly. Many common friends, even many events that linked us, and we never met at those events. If I was to write here about all of that I would need far more space than Adnan gives me for writing the Diary, constantly warning me that I’m going too broad.
The lunch lasted for almost five hours. I will never forget it, and I am endlessly grateful to Andrej for sharing with me the memories of some events and people that stirred a torrent of emotion in me.
As the time to say goodbye came, Andrej gave me the book “Milena Dravić – More than Art”, published three days ago. I know he was a family friend with Milena Dravić and Dragan Nikolić. When Dragan left us, Grand kafa sponsored a book about this great artist titled “Gospodin Mangup”. By coincidence, two and a half months ago I read an interview with Milena on one of the Belgrade’s news portals. It was probably one of her last interviews. I remember she talked about Pula Festival, where she received the Grand Arena award. She also mentioned Andrej, thanking him for all the help he provided her during her illness, with the purchase of medicines and the necessary aids.
That’s Andrej Bele.
I will never forget this afternoon and will always be grateful to him for giving it to me.
I came to the hotel exhausted. I never write Diary logs from travels in a state such as this. But I simply had to write this one. And I had to write it now!
Belgrade, December 19, 2018.