Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Interview by: Ekrem Dupanović
Earlier this year Saša Leben became director of the Formitas Group. She joined Formitas as a development manager at the end of 2018. Prior to that, she was director of Publicis Slovenia for many years. Her experience in corporate management of an international company brings new concepts that Formitas has not been familiar with before, but they will certainly fit into the existing local and regional integration of individual parts of the group. In addition to being a director, Saša is also a partner in the Formitas Group.
Media Marketing: You took over the helm in Formitas after 30 successful years of the agency’s business, which in the meantime grew into a group that consists of Formitas Creative, media agency AM Komunikacije and the Brand Business School which disseminates strategic-communication knowledge. What will you set up as the foundation for development of Formitas for the next 30 years?
Saša Leben: Ha, ha, ha, I am sure that my colleagues, who have successfully led Formitas through its first thirty years, have never mulled so much in advance, so I as well don’t have such a long-term vision. Especially in a situation where changes happen literally day by day. However, I certainly do look ahead. The foundation for development of Formitas in the future will continue to be its essence of today – strategic know-how and brand. Brand will always be an essential part of communications. The conceptualisation of branding based on what a particular brand truly is, and the strategic focus on who the brand is intended for, is deceptive. Seeking and finding the right path for a brand to reach its right consumers is a greater necessity today than ever before, and it will be even greater by each passing day.
In addition, we cannot ignore the fact that the number of channels through which consumers receive brand information is much greater than it has ever been before. Every day something new is emerging in this field. Finding the right focus in communications and connecting the right channels to the right segments is one of our most important tasks.
We have incorporated innovation, transformation and sustainability into our vision. This means that our constant will be change. Stemming from this is that, essentially, we will not rigidly define our core business.
In a book about innovation, I read an interesting piece of information: Kodak held a license and patent for digital camera since 1975, well before the world turned to digitization. But they didn’t want to lose their core business and were still doing things as usual. When the world got digitized, patent rights kept their business afloat until they were first forced to downsize, and finally shut down the company. We can learn a lot from these stories of innovation, including the fact that the biggest and best innovations happened in the time of less tech, less capital and less investment. So, it’s not all about the money, the environment, the industry … it’s more about mindset, thinking, and defining what innovation represents for you.
Maybe we will be doing brands based on the blockchain segment 😉. And maybe in two years’ time this will no longer even exist, and the brand will have to come to your home, because we won’t be moving so much in the outside world.
Media Marketing: What were your first experiences in managing an agency with several strong individuals, such as Mojca Randl, Mitja Tuškej, Andrej Popme? How is it to work with them?
Saša Leben: I knew all of them even before. Slovenia is a small country after all, and we all know each other. It’s hard to do our job without encountering the knowledge and expertise of each of them at some point.
I must admit that in my initial contact with them, I felt some special excitement that was associated with a strong feeling of respect. And yes, I had a bit of a stage fright 😊.
But when I got to know them through work, I was thrilled that they were not individualists at all, and that they were phenomenal teammates. And it is this team spirit, which they logically spread among the employees of the agency, that is what fascinates me most in my daily work. Each of us has something to contribute to any given project – that ‘something’ from our individual specialization. Mutual respect and desire for cooperation is what gives all of us some extra energy that ultimately leads to the right results.
I think it’s great that even after 30 years they know exactly what direction everyone in their field of work should go. If the younger generations also had such a strong desire and energy, the entire industry would function much better today. For ten years now we are all talking about disruption and transformation, and yet in many people I don’t see that personal transformation or adaptation.
The team I have lives with that spirit, so I’m sure we will continue to develop everything we do in a way that constantly pushes the boundaries of all challenges, especially those that are generally considered ‘classic’.
Media Marketing: In 2020 Formitas became the first and only representative of Goodvertising for the Adriatic region. What is it about?
Saša Leben: Goodvertising was a long-time fundamental concept of Formitas, it just didn’t have its name. The values on the topic of doing good have always been imbued in the DNA of Formitas. Thinking has always been focused on projects that have a ‘true’ meaning and are capable of doing more than just capitalizing on advertising investments. It was always a goal to work for change. Either in society, or for individuals, or for the entire planet … not just with donations and sponsorships, not just with ‘small’ actions that put out fires without significantly affecting the reasons why certain situations occur in the first place.
Few people know that the Young Hopes project, led by Triglav Insurance, is very well known in Slovenia. It is a concept that was made, designed and conceptualized in Formitas. It builds a great position for the corporate brand, and it opens up real opportunities for young geniuses to succeed in their ambitions. Everyone knows the Start It Up Slovenia project, partly thanks to you Ekrem – you were the first to recognize the strength of the project and proclaimed it the project of the decade in the Adriatic region. Over four years, this project has provided an opportunity for 36 new entrepreneurs to succeed with their innovative ideas. More than 80% of the products, with which young people went on the shelves of Spar’s stores are still selling well. More than 100 new jobs have been created through the project, the most successful among them are conquering new markets, and some have increased production from 300 items per day to four thousands an hour …
Doing good for society, doing things inside our business that have the right, wider social sense, is a concept put forward through the idea of Goodvertising by Thomas Kolster. And Mister Goodvertising is doing phenomenal things for big global companies that embrace the concept as their own in business, both in communications and in developing new products and brands. These are four dimensions of a company / brand / or individual within a company, and these dimensions are applied to all three important segments of sustainability.
The model and methodology of Goodvertising goes further and deeper than one campaign. We are talking about a business model by which we can achieve goals within the ‘Doing Good’ concept, and do so within any segment of business and communications … Thomas is preparing and finishing his new book that adds a new dimension of longevity to brands and organizations (time as the fourth dimension). The concept and methodology not only focus on brands and products, but can be implemented on the company culture, talents and all the important factors that make up the whole enterprise.
First of all, this is important for companies that operate in our markets in accordance with global orientation and are obliged to work in accordance with the overall strategy or orientation of the company. Our methodology seeks a point of contact between the global and local orientations, where we can use new dimensions to add long-term and socially responsible action to this orientation, which is, after all, in line with the overall orientation, and we define this it as the fourth dimension (component), which is time.
This will certainly be one of our important focal points in the future.
Meetings and debates with Thomas have shown that we all believe in the same things, and that our joint goal is the “doing good” concept in branding, and to really do something good for all of us and throughout our region. Kolster’s new book, The Hero Trap, will be published in May, and it will present and define all four dimensions of Goodvertising.