Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
With the first days of spring we announced the news that Davor Bruketa and Nikola Žinić struck a deal WPP that Grey would enter the ownership structure of Bruketa & Žinić OM as the majority owner. This agreement was formalized with contract signing in mid-September. The news has attracted great attention, which was also to be expected because it is one of the most successful and largest agencies in the region. And, of course, there was a lot of comments that largely came down to the opinions on the amount of money that was needed to acquire the majority stake in the Bruketa & Žinić OM.
In our region, when you talk about mergers and takeovers the only thing of interest is money. But money is not necessarily the most important thing. It is important, but there are other benefits that in the long term can be much more useful than one-time financial investment. This was also demonstrated in this case. Davor and Nikola say that money was the smallest issue, and that they quickly agreed on it. What are the other benefits of this acquisition?
MEDIA MARKETING: What made you sell a majority stake in an Agency that enjoyed a great reputation, was stable and had a portfolio of representative clients?
Davor Bruketa: The Agency is not only stable, but it is growing. In 2013 we ended the year with HRK 20 million in revenue and the total planned revenue in 2017 will perhaps reach 50 million, which makes us, bearing in mind the fact that we have almost 100 employees, probably the largest creative and digital agency in Croatia. We see further growth and development in the increase of foreign revenues especially from the European countries and North America. The pace of our growth up until now has not been satisfactory to us. We believe that the partnership with Grey will open this door wider.
Nikola Zinic: This is the main reason, but not the only one. Today we work for some of the most ambitious advertisers in the region. Now we are better able to support their export ambitions. In addition, we have an easier access to the latest insights into the consumer behaviour and the technological development, which will reflect on the service quality at home. The B&Ž folks have always been ambitious and in order to satisfy such appetites, we have been actively searching for growth opportunities.
MEDIA MARKETING: What is so crucial that Grey expects from the Agency, why did they opt for this investment?
Nikola Zinic: WPP and Grey showed their interest in the Agency after we had been announced as the International Small Agency of 2013 by Advertising Age. There are two underlying reasons behind their interest – strengthening support for their global clients in this part of the world and some specific skills of ours, which are interesting to Grey.
Davor Bruketa: Today, since we become the Grey’s system, we are the Brand, Product & Retail Design Hub here in Zagreb and the Digital Shopper Hub for the global network of the Grey Group. We have been in the Group for less than two months, and we are already working for Grey in Moscow, New York and London.
MEDIA MARKETING: I suppose that you had some other combinations as well. Why Grey then? Was it because of their most favourable financial terms or something else?
Nikola Zinic: We were not selling ourselves and nor was selling our primary objective. WPP came to us. We were not hedging our bets and collecting bids from competitors. We were looking for growth opportunities and had different case scenarios. Grey was the best quality option. The financial offer was fair from the very start and there was not much discussion about it.
Davor Bruketa: Grey network gives us a great opportunity to learn and grow as people and as a business. It’s also about the culture fit. Grey’s open culture and B&Z’s were nearly identical so the actual cultural merge of the two agencies was fairly simple. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t have happened without the fulfilment of the basic hygienic conditions – first of all, the transparency of our finances and continuous growth. It seems it doesn’t go without saying in this part of the world.
MEDIA MARKETING: What is the ownership structure of the Bruketa&Žinić&Grey Agency? Only the two of you and Grey and in which proportions, or are there other owners?
Nikola Zinic: There are. A few years ago, Siniša Waldinger became a co-owner of B&Ž. Today the three of us are still the minority partners. WPP is the majority owner. Damjan Geber is a co-owner of Brigada.
MEDIA MARKETING: What was in this acquisition for the Bruketa&Žinić Agency, besides money?
Davor Bruketa: The only constant in B&Ž has always been that we are constantly changing. We believe there are a lot of new experiences in front of us and it makes us excited. Our people have got the opportunity to work in markets that were inaccessible to us before. We get the knowledge and the insights that we didn’t have before. We get to meet people who are close, but highly specialised, as well as those who have good insights from all over the world and also a broader view on the industry development. We have an opportunity to learn by being in contact with them, but also to evaluate our own expertise – our people are really skilful in some areas, we have only now become fully aware of it.
MEDIA MARKETING: And what’s in it for Grey?
Nikola Zinic: A small, but ambitious group of people who will contribute to the cross-agency sharing of knowledge and strengthening of business cooperation among Grey’s agencies. They have acquired two new European hubs. They have strengthened the support for their global clients in the region.
MEDIA MARKETING: By this acquisition you must have lost a part of your autonomy in running the Agency, in making business plans and visions for its future. What does it look like when you have a big decision to make and say: “Wait a minute, we need to consult Grey!” After so many years of being successful in what you do and in running the Agency, I suppose it’s not so easy.
Davor Bruketa: That’s what everybody is asking us, but we used to agree about everything before as well – first the three of us partners, and then all key people in the Agency. Today this circle has expanded to include some other people, but in essence it is the same. Neither before nor now has anything depended on the will of an individual but on the result of our “heads put together”. Without Grey, we wouldn’t have been able to arrange the transfer of all the key people from Agrokor’s digital team to B&Ž. The strong and swift support from London, Moscow and New York, from all decision making levels, was crucial to offer these people serious professional challenges.
Nikola Zinic: For the time being, we see only the positive sides of this, but we are aware that we are still on honeymoon. We won’t have the same views about everything in the future, but at least we will know how to deal with it.
MEDIA MARKETING: Will Grey put their person in the Management Board now, or will their people take over the operations management, and will you two focus solely on creativity and development, or will everything stay as it is?
Davor Bruketa: We have made a new organisational scheme that takes into account a significant enlargement of the digital team as well as the fact that Grey Zagreb is joining us. We have cut down the depth of the organisational scheme and given the team managers much more independence and greater accountability. There is only one thing that always remains the same – to be fit and able to understand the challenges at all levels, we are involved in the operations management of the Agency and projects as well, and sometimes we also load the dishwasher. We are entrepreneurs and need to have a broad insight to be able to make appropriate decisions. A direct answer to this question would be – nobody will run the Agency other than us.
Nikola Zinic: The two of us represent the management team, as co-chairs and chief creative officers, then there is Siniša Waldinger as the executive creative officer, and Director of Brigada Damjan Geber and Director of Grey Adriatics Nikola Bubanj.
MEDIA MARKETING: What is Grey’s vision of the development of the Bruketa&Žinić&Grey Agency? Which direction will your development take, what will be your key specialities in the future?
Davor Bruketa: Our vision of Bruketa&Žinić&Grey is perhaps more important. During the negotiations we put it clearly – we were not interested in becoming a dusty provincial branch office of the global network. When we reached a consensus, the first thing we did was to go to New York and meet the most important operatives. If know WHO in what we do is equally important as know how, then we felt like we were in a sweet shop. The shelves are brimming with opportunities. We have no illusion that everything will run smoothly and easily, but we aren’t impatient guys. Persistence is our main trait that will help us make it to the finish line. We have time.
Nikola Zinic: As regards the future, it is clear to everyone by now that a good advert hasn’t been looking like an advert for a long time. It can look like an app, like a new business service, like a new product, like a social movement, like anything you name it, but not like an advert. To be able to deliver something like that, we need key competences that both our digital agents and Brigada have.
Davor Bruketa: There were 90,000 citizens who came to the recently finished birthday celebration of the Croatia Insurance Company we had worked on together with the Millenium promocija Company, and the project had more than half a million responses on social networks. The Croatia Insurance Company managed to prove its important social role beyond its basic task to meet the functional needs of its customers and financial expectations of its investors. The strongest brands have clearly defined social roles.
Nikola Zinic: Globally speaking, from Zagreb we can make good deliveries of UX/UI, product, retail and brand design. Besides, the network finds our team’s expertise in e-commerce, together with Brigada’s expertise in offline commerce, very interesting. It is a great challenge to be able to efficiently design, promote and make a proper connection between the digital and the bricks and mortar point of sale. Such expertise as ours is also relevant outside the regional borders.
MEDIA MARKETING: What is your relationship with other Grey’s agencies in the region (Belgrade and Ljubljana)? Will they be joined in a regional network of Grey’s agencies or will everyone dance to their own tune?
Nikola Zinic: We are working on detecting synergies in the region, as well as in Europe and beyond. No differences whatsoever.
MEDIA MARKETING: You like festivals, you look forward to receiving awards and you have always known how to celebrate them in a grand style, the way it should be. Your works, and you two personally, have always been warmly welcomed at festivals. What will happen if WPP decides that their agencies will no longer take part in festivals, like Publicis did globally, and WPP with Eurobest? Could it happen that next year you will not participate in the Days of Communication?
Davor Bruketa: The role of competitions in our line of business has always been a complicated one, sometimes even a controversial issue. It is a fact that we change faster than the competition system does. It is a fact that competitions have become a considerable investment. I’m sure that the business models of global and local competitions will sooner or later adapt to the new market relations. WPP, just like Publicis, make their decisions in order to accelerate such changes. We want to be a part of that impact.
Nikola Zinic: The Days of Communication is a valuable project primarily for knowledge sharing, and as long as it remains so, we will definitely be an active stakeholder in such efforts as we’ve always been.
MEDIA MARKETING: What has changed in your lives apart from the fact that you have significantly boosted your private finances?
Nikola Zinic: This is the third radical transformation we are going through and definitely not the last one. Through the network we get to know interesting people from all over the world whose experiences inspire us and whose comments improve our daily work. It’s invaluable what you can absorb from the network, but you don’t have to.
Davor Bruketa: At the end of the day, it’s only up to us to see how successful we will be and if and how we will use the opportunities presented to us.