Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović, email@example.com
Photo: Detail from the meeting of associations in Belgrade
Since I’ve returned from Belgrade I’ve been constantly thinking about the meeting of presidents and directors of the national advertising associations, which was held on the initiative of the UEPS. The official notes from the meeting arrived, that was sent to all participating associations for verification. Associations are likely discussing these conclusions with their members. Associations exist to protect the interests of their members and create the conditions to realize these interests. Conclusions should be consistent with the interests of the members.
At an editorial board meeting we at Media Marketing discussed how we could also get engaged in the process of creating regional cooperation. Developing and strengthening of regional cooperation that leads to a prosperous and profitable future of regional advertising industry is also in our best interest as well. The better the industry, the better we will fare – I guess – as we are a medium that lives by this industry. We agreed to send about two dozen emails to leaders of agencies operating throughout the region and to ask them to tell us how they see cooperation on a regional level, what are the problems being encountered, what is good and what should be better, how can associations leverage the collective synergy of individual markets and industries to make things better for everyone – the advertisers doing business with them in all markets, and the agencies that faithfully follow them in these markets. We gave them five days to send us the answers. We expected to get enough material to write about it for an entire week. Plan was to make an intro text on Monday, and then over the remaining four days to publish opinions of agencies from one of the four countries included in the survey: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.
And what happened? Nothing! We got only two responses. Yes, only two. Why? Because the advertising industry in the Adriatic region is an immature industry – I’ve written about this repeatedly. Few are those who see their own interest in the development of the whole industry, the collective synergy, the communication that leads to the overall well-being. Everyone wants to wage their private little battles and wars, few of them are willing to come to the table and discuss what it is that we can and must solve together, and what will remain to each individually to do in the way of developing their own businesses. In these individual wars, corruption becomes a very effective weapon, so pushing money into the pockets of government officials and political figures creates an environment that is favorable to individuals, but certainly not for the industry as a whole. There is not a single agency (or advertiser) that works in the territory of several countries of the Adriatic region and doesn’t encounter difficulties due to non-uniformity of operating conditions in the advertising industry. We just need to be smart and recognize them, and try to solve them together.
The first of two responses came from Janez Rakušček, executive creative director of the agency Luna Ljubljana. Why did Janez reply? Because he has nothing better to do than to correspond with Media Marketing? No. He replied because he recognizes the need to communicate within the region. He recognized what others have not. He replied because he is such a professional – intelligent, responsible toward the work he does, and wants to collaborate on things that can contribute to the overall betterment. Janez wants to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. After all this is what he wrote:
“Our region is much more closely linked than it might seem to a superficial observer. Economic flows are intertwined. Through mergers and takeovers companies become important regional players who skip the state borders. Multinational companies rule the entire region from a single HQ (sometimes even the wider geographical area). Larger agencies operate regionally and with offices in the capitals develop trans-national campaigns. I myself several times last year led international, regional creative teams, and because of that I had to get acquainted with the regulations and specific characteristics of individual markets. Linking trade associations can achieve a lot in this area, from harmonization of the code of conduct to common documents of good practices that are accepted and recognized by all.
For me, more important than the regulations and documents is the soft, human side of connections: I like to meet with people, and to shake their hand with joy. After that, it somehow clears by itself who is who and who does what…”
The second response came from I&F McCann Group, written by Vanda Kučera, corporate affairs executive for the Group. The full text of this letter will be published tomorrow in the section Theme of the Week. I am surprised that the letter came only from I&F McCann Group, but since it came just from one agency, then it doesn’t surprise me that it came from the I&F McCann Group, the most organized agency system in the Adriatic region. Be patient until tomorrow and read the very serious and rational thinking on the need of collaboration in a small region in order to become bigger and richer.
All of us have the need to be closer in the thinking on the development of our business.
Slovenes need the region because of the business of Slovenian agencies and companies in the region, but also because of the Golden Drum, which this year introduced the Golden Drum Award Adriatic. By returning to Ljubljana, Golden Drum becomes closer and certainly more attractive for the region. Slovenes need more knowledge about the southern states in which they service their clients. We are similar, and yet so different. We need the exchange of knowledge and experience.
It seems the Croatian agencies are not very interested in going out on the regional market because they can’t achieve the prices of their services there as they achieve in Croatia. They are more interested in penetrating the Western and Asian markets. But they are interested in protecting the Croatian market from ‘intrusions’ of agencies from neighboring countries that offer their services at damping prices, thereby not paying taxes. Croats are also not very optimistic when it comes to the the introduction of rules. HURA tried to introduce some rules on their own market, and last year it cot slapped by the Agency for Protection of Market Competition (AZTN). HURA wanted to do nothing more than introduce some order, to prevent the brazen actions of advertisers and unfair competition among agencies (damping of fees) in the announcement of pitches and participation in them. AZTN screamed as loud as it could, demanding from HURA to quash some key provisions relating to the introduction of order and rules of fair competition. It also ‘skinned’ HURA for five thousand euros, without the possibility of appeal, because who has the right to complain when AZTN orders something. The Competition Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina acted similarly, until the police got involved with some of their decisions, so they changed their minds on some issues overnight. AZTN accused HURA of monopolistic behavior, but didn’t point to the monopolism of Prime Minister Zoran Milanović when he banned all ministries in the Croatian Government to work with professional PR agencies on their public relations.
According to unofficial data, Serbia is the largest advertising market in the region, and not only because it is the most populous country. Research by a US agency says that Serbia by 2020 should have the highest growth rate of investment in advertising. Serbia needs the rules. It needs the experience of self-regulation from Croatia and Slovenia. It needs the exchange of knowledge and education. It needs a strong association. Viktor Nikolić and the new Board of Directors of UEPS are trying to create a modern association that will lead the industry to a more rapid and stable development. They need everything – from educational conferences to strong festival of creativity that will replace the papers which UEPS handed out en-masse on the occasion of the Day of Propagandists. Serbian advertising industry perhaps needs regional cooperation of professional associations the most, and therefore UEPS launched this initiative by organizing the recent, very successful meeting in Belgrade.
There are many reasons why the profession should unite and cooperate at the level of the Adriatic region. It won’t be easy, but we must be persistent.
Sarajevo, 19 June 2016.