Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
Iris Žarkov Štambuk is Group Account Director at McCann Zagreb. She has many years of experience in the communications market, most on the agency side (18 years at McCann), and on the client side (Exportdrvo) and in the media (RTL Television). She has led projects for numerous clients in the financial, tourism, pharmaceutical and FMCG sectors (beverages, food, clothing): Mastercard, Belupo, Franck, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, Hrvatska Turistička Zajednica, Croatia Osiguranje, Hrvatska Poštanska Banka, Sandoz, Boots, Atlantic Grupa/Neva d.d., Raiffesen Bank Austria d.d. Zagreb, Atlas – turistička agencija, Lufthansa , Pliva (brand: Sumamed), Zagrebačka Pivovara etc.
Campaigns led by Iris have won numerous awards at various festivals and competitions. Her campaign for Franck Café Cappuccino won a silver Effie in 2015, the campaign for Angal Throat Spray took a bronze Effie in 2011, and the campaign for Flexi current accounts at RBA Bank was the most effective campaign in the financial sector in Croatia in 2003/4. This campaign brought McCann Erickson the Agency of the Year title in 2004. It also recorded exceptional sales results, and has remained the agency’s most awarded campaign to this day. The RBA web banner for housing loans was the first Croatian finalist at Cannes Lions in 2005. The launch of Cappy juice in a bottle received a number of awards at the Fest, and also won the WORLDSTAR award for packaging design, awarded by the World Packaging Organization. The bottle design and strategy for Cappy juices that was developed then was recommended by the HQ of Coca-Cola company in Atlanta for all the world markets that sell Cappy.
The reason for this interview was the creation of a cross border campaign for Mastercard, on which Iris had been working for several months in London as team leader. But as we are talking with someone with so much experience and such results, this is also an opportunity to talk about other topics related to the advertising industry in Croatia.
Media Marketing: McCann Zagreb has a roster of serious clients in Croatia. At the agency you represent the clients, and with your clients you take care of the interests of the agency. What kind of challenges do you meet?
Iris Žarkov Štambuk: There’s a whole range of challenges, from minor, operational challenges – for example how to adjust agency resources to the all our clients’ requirements – to bigger challenges, such as how to successfully maintain the agency or the client’s brand in the market.
It’s not easy to manage a job in which each email or phone call can turn your whole day upside-down, take you back to the beginning or shift you into overdrive.
Rapid assessment of the situation, resourcefulness, multitasking, finding solutions that satisfy both the agency and the client – you simply accept this as you accept the change between day and night, and that’s how you live each day at the agency.
Media Marketing: There’s a lot of talk about the prevailing fear in the advertising industry today. Agencies are afraid of losing clients so they play it safe, clients are afraid of losing business, the media are afraid of losing advertisers. Do you share this feeling?
Iris Žarkov Štambuk: I don’t think this is anything new in the industry. Advertising is dynamic. It’s responsive to consumer behavior, the changes in the media and events in the business environment, so there can be a variety of reasons for the loss of budgets or clients. We are constantly navigating rough seas.
There is always a risk that an agency will lose a client, even if you bring them great results. You can lose a global client because of the situation in the global markets, regardless of the fact that your client is a leader locally, thanks, among other things, to a good communication strategy. You can also lose a client due to internal changes on the client side or simply because of losing a pitch.
Working in an agency is like a sport – you learn to lose and to win for various reasons: good or bad play, good or bad referees, a well-coordinated or underprepared team.
It’s not easy on the client side either. There’s constant pressure to grow, to earn more, and then, depending on the client, some take risks and some play it safe.
It’s the same with the media. The growth of new media is redefining the image of the traditional media, and everyone is trying to adjust to the changing conditions.
Media Marketing: You’ve had a rare experience. You led the team in London that worked on a global platform for the new Mastercard campaign, which was accepted. How was it?
Iris Žarkov Štambuk: I was incredibly lucky to be invited to join the McCann Worldgroup team that coordinates the activities of Mastercard in Europe. The team leader, Panos Vatsis (SVP Global Brand Director Europe MasterCard), invited me to step in to help out for 6-7 weeks, but that was extended to 6-7 months.
During that period, the European McCann team was entrusted with the task of creating a cross border campaign, since traveling in Europe represents more than 50% of the cross-border travel in the world, and I was assigned to lead the project. And so, like any account job at the agency, it started with writing a creative brief, coordinating creatives, presentations for the client, presentations for McCann’s global team – in short, managing the process of the development of a cross border platform all the way to approval at McCann central and Mastercard in New York.
The workflow is similar to that here, except everything is more complex. The task itself is more complex, the team is bigger and dislocated (part of it was in London, part in Bucharest), and the client is in Rome and New York.
Only now, as the cross border platform has been applied in various markets, am I becoming aware of the breadth and importance of this project and my role, responsibility and contribution to it.
To collaborate with creatives who are a brand in their own right in the advertising world, and Cannes Lions winners, is a real privilege. And to have a boss who is a mentor and a friend, and to have a satisfied customer, it really is a great pleasure, even after quite a long career in the agency, when you think you have experienced a lot.
Media Marketing: You have adapted the global campaign to the Croatian market. It’s the largest Mastercard campaign for this year. The visuals include some of the most beautiful motifs of the Adriatic. Was this done for each particular country, or was it a privilege to use it and at the same time promote the beauties of Croatia’s Adriatic coast?
Iris Žarkov Štambuk: The global Cross border platform that we developed in London provided the structure of the campaign and ready-made creative solutions for seaside travel for the summer, and skiing for winter – which the markets can easily localize and use.
When we were thinking about the implementation of the Cross border platform in Croatia, our proposal to the client was to create a campaign using the visuals of the Croatian coast with authentic communication messages, and the client supported that.
In the process of creation, the agency proposed a number of creative solutions, but the choice was ultimately narrowed down to three visuals, in order to rationalize the budget and for easier implementation of the campaign.
We also decided, along with the taglines offered in the global platform, to create new lines that would combine with local visuals to better convey the “priceless” experience of a summer vacation in Croatia.
For the agency team that was the more challenging and difficult road, but also more creative, so it was an incentive to engage in this kind of customization. Since this is a global McCann client, space to interfere with the set communication platform is limited and controlled, and approval must be obtained from the creative director of the Cross border platform, the chief creative officer at McCann XBC in New York, who is the author of MasterCard’s iconic Priceless campaign, as well as the top management of Mastercard in the CEE region and Europe. They not only gave their approval, but also praise for excellent understanding of the communication strategy of the brand, and for the creative contribution to the campaign, and I personally gained invaluable professional experience to be in both roles – to lead a project globally, and now, locally.
Media Marketing: From the vantage point of an account director of one of the leading Croatian agencies, how do you see today’s advertising scene in Croatia?
Iris Žarkov Štambuk: What makes me happy is that after several very hard years we can feel the movement of the entire scene in a positive direction. Optimism is back, the investment in advertising is growing, we got the first Croatian Lion (bravo to our colleagues at Imago), our agencies are turning to foreign markets, some new partnerships and agency organizations are appearing. The shifts are not big, but they are positive.
Media Marketing: Which client, whom you have not had the chance to work with so far, would you like to work for? Who would you like to see in the McCann Zagreb family of clients?
Iris Žarkov Štambuk: Whenever I see a good campaign, I wish I was part of that agency or client team. Back in my student days, when I attended the lectures of Messrs Benetton and Oliviero Toscani, I immediately wanted to work for them. Then I had a phase when I “fell” for Nike, Ikea, Apple, last year I “fell” for Always’ Like a Girl campaign, and some of my wishes have come true. For example, working on the brands of The Coca-Cola Company, working on the campaign of the Croatian Tourist Board, Mastercard…
All clients are welcome in the McCann Zagreb family. The larger the family, the merrier!
Media Marketing: Young people increasingly avoid working in advertising. They claim it is aggressive, dishonest and deceiving. How, in your opinion, can the industry attract more young people, especially creative talents?
Iris Žarkov Štambuk: I don’t have the feeling that they shy away from working in advertising, as more and more young people are entering the field of advertising across all fields: through creative, through all kinds of digital advertising, through work, through video production, strategic planning, media … a new generation is coming.
I agree that they have a different view on advertising. They are critical, direct, open, loud and clear in expressing their views, and such views are always welcome. A good balance of youth and people with experience in the team always guarantees a better result than the exclusivity of only one or the other.
Young people want the opportunity and space to prove and make themselves, and the road should be cleared for them, they should be encouraged, and it seems to me that lately this has started rolling as well. You also promote the Young Leaders, and there was the Young Lions competition for the first time at the Days of Communication, the agencies are hiring again… opportunities for them are opening up and I believe that many will take them.