Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Author: Ekrem Dupanović
English translation: Hannah Maurer
I have been meaning to get back to writing my journal for a while, but things keep tripping over themselves so fast, on a daily basis, that by the time I have an idea and take a day to work on it, it’s already old. Still, one more try, since, if I keep that up, I’ll never write another entry. Why did I decide to write today? I’ve no idea. I got up at 5, made myself coffee, sat down at the computer, and started to write.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Sarajevo during the Second World War and the 28th anniversary of the start of the four-year siege during the (I hope) last war.
Soon (in early May), I will be celebrating 50 years working in communications. During those five decades everything in my life and work has changed, many times over. The one constant has been my marriage of 43 years to Vedrana.
Since I’m already counting the years, I may as well point out that I will be celebrating both my 50th anniversary in the advertising industry and my 70th birthday together in May. Our United Europe and I are the same age and on May 9 we will both enter our eighth decade. I’ve no doubts it will be the best, most successful, and most fruitful decade of my life. I have been preparing for it for over half a year and I have a clear plan. I know what I have to do and what I want to achieve over the coming ten years. As for the European Union, I’m not so sure it will survive this decade. Europe is old, tired, sluggish, out of ideas and of the right people to guide it along the right path. It would not surprise me greatly if the coronavirus’ final victim were the European Union, at least in its present incarnation.
The changes to my personal life over the past seven decades have been nowhere near as interesting, or dramatic, as the changes to how my job has been done. I have worked in the communications industry for fifty years. More exactly, I have spent that time working in or with the media. Even when I worked in an advertising agency, my job generally involved working with the media. At a time when they didn’t depend quite so much on advertising, I was already looking for new business models to help maximise their income from advertising and marketing, or economic propaganda and market communications as the job was called for a long time. From ads to integrated communication. The profession’s name has changed, the ways we work have changed, society has changed, everything has changed.
Just when I thought the changes had stopped and I would be able to finish up everything I had planned in peace over the ten years or so until I turned eighty, which is how long I was planning to keep on working, the greatest, fastest, and most dramatic changes, not just in my life but in the lives of everyone on Earth, happened. The coronavirus happened. Too tiny for the eye to see, nonetheless it has brought a conquered world to its knees in just four months.
Five decades is an important jubilee, which is why I was planning a worthy celebration. Two months ago, I sent e-mails to 100 friends, business partners, and colleagues from all over the region to come to Sarajevo on the 7th of May to celebrate together. They all confirmed. A group the like of which has never been seen. I was proud. And then our little rascal, the invisible virus, showed up and said: “Oh no you won’t.” Now, exactly a month before that scheduled diner in Sarajevo, I’m not quite sure what to do. I’ll have to decide over the next two to three days, but, as things stand, I will, in all likelihood, have to cancel. The evening I should have been host to a hundred friends from across the region will involve just me and Vedrana sharing a bottle of wine to celebrate my half-century in the profession.
And as we wait for it all to pass so we can start our “new life” (they say nothing will be the same in our home or work lives), we have little option but to stay at home and do as much work as we can or have.
How much work there is, or isn’t, is something we should all be thinking about now we are in more or less “neutral” gear. The industry hasn’t been in a good place for a while. Clients are becoming more demanding, wanting everything now, immediately, and, if possible, for free. In their scramble to get bigger slices of the same (or a shrinking) pie, most agencies are slashing prices, right to the margin of profitability. So thin a margin allows us little beyond mere survival. Is that our goal as agencies and advertisers? Is it worth working so hard just to stagger on? Can the industry really be saved by writing panicky letters to the government for help? It’s the same with the media. They have been worst hit by the cuts in communications budgets. Still, not everyone’s run out of work. Quite a few industries are doing well. Now may not be the time for major campaigns, but we could and should still be communicating.
Could we not use this time to think critically about the communications industry’s place and role in society? To create new relationship strategies inside the industry, so that when all this is over it can be different, better, and smarter?
Two and a half months ago at the No Limit Sarajevo Advertising Festival and then immediately afterwards on Federal television, the feature-length documentary film No Limit had its premiere. I worked on that film, with the director Nedžad Beogović, all through 2019. The film is on our YouTube channel and anyone interested can view it there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GiHwq31Mkc. The communications industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina can proudly claim to be the first advertising industry in the region with a film of its very own.
And there’s something else I would like to direct your attention to. We will be holding the second Young Leaders of Tomorrow Conference on the Japod Islands in early June. It will be a three-day conference where we will all have a lot to talk about. We are confident the conditions will right by then for it to be held. It will be the first conference of the year. We hope.
More information on The Young Leaders of Tomorrow Conference here: https://mladi-lideri.com/conference/
Sarajevo, 6th of April 2020