Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
I’m still trying to figure out what went wrong and forced us to cancel the Woman.Comm Conference in Zagreb. Yesterday I thought that the major cause for this is Agrokor. It is one of the causes, but certainly not the main one. OK, there’s a crisis, but that’s no reason to throw stones. A crisis is also a challenge. We have to work to overcome it. The conference was certainly a positive event that might have moved things forward, at least a little bit. Now I’m contradicting myself and part of the things that I wrote yesterday, but I’m trying to find the answers.
For now, I’ve learned ten things from the cancellation of the conference. And there are certainly more to learn.
If you like the idea, it doesn’t mean others will like it
It’s not the first time in my life that I had an idea I believed in, but others didn’t like it. Or perhaps they had some completely alternative reasons for saying that they dislike the idea, because that was the easiest and least painful way to go.
What did I learn? You can’t believe only in yourself. Test your ideas and see if others share the enthusiasm as well.
First check, then act
If you have an idea that you think is great, check all the circumstances that may affect its successful implementation. We didn’t take into account the consequences of the disruption that Agrokor’s cancellation of advertising would have on the Croatian advertising and communications industry. Or rather, we were warned about it too late.
What did I learn? Before you embark on a great adventure, check all the circumstances that may affect its happy ending.
There is no regional communications industry – there are only regional financial appetites
Regional conferences and shared regional interest in the development of advertising and communications industries are misconceptions. No one is visiting the other as a guest. Everyone wants people to come, but they don’t want to go anywhere themselves. A peak over the fence? Yes, but only if there’s a scent of money on the other side. Financial appetites are the only motivator forcing agencies to walk the region. Using collective synergies in the development of the industry, which would be of common interest? It doesn’t exist even as an option!
What did I learn? Wait for Vučić’s idea of the single market comes to life and then start working regionally.
Rely only on sincere friends, but you have to know who they are
In preparation of the Woman.Comm Conference we relied on the support of friends. Many of them have shown that they are actually not (friends). We will have to revise our lists and decide who’s really a sincere friend, and who declares themselves as a friend solely out of their own interests. When they need us, they’re all hugs and kisses. When you need them, they play mute.
What did I learn? You can have hundreds of acquaintances, but not hundreds of friends. To succeed, you need a maximum of ten. Sift the beans and find them.
If someone wants to do something, they will – if not, they will find a thousand reasons not to
This is one of the greatest truths that I have learned in my nearly half a century career in advertising. Even when we couldn’t, we always found a solution to be at hand, and to do something. When we were in need, many reasons were found not to lend a helping hand.
What did I learn? When you’re starting something new, set yourself at least 100 questions and find answers to them, be ready because opponents have at least that much more in their sleeve.
Identify in advance all who could be against you, and try to intercept their action.
I’m certain that in some circles ill image of the conference was created, because some ladies from the advertising and communications industry of Croatia were offended because they were not asked to speak at the conference. I know this because they openly told me that. If they couldn’t speak, no one can. And so the stories started.
What did I learn? In any project, first define those who can knock it down, even before you identify those on whom you can rely. The demolishers are far more effective than builders.
Industry is in the crisis of mentality, not in financial crisis
Communications industry in the region is an immature industry. If it was even a bit more mature, we would not have come in a situation to cancel the conference. No one can find a single rational reason for not attending. Even the Agrokor cannot be that strong of a reason. Whatever it is, everyone could pay one registration fee, especially because we have lowered the prices to a minimum. With so many agencies, media and advertisers in the market, we could have filled three halls of the Westin, not a half of single one to make it look half-decent.
What did I learn? When you want to make business with someone, first check how serious they are and see if you can count on them.
Industry needs big players
Whatever the stories about the advertising industry of Yugoslavia may be, that industry had great visionaries, big players who were able to impose our industry as an important part of the overall economic system.
The advertising industry in the region today desperately needs big players to survive the crisis through which it’s still pushing on. It needs them to overcome the changes that occur almost on a monthly basis, and to start towards a prosperous and profitable future. How many of these people does the industry at the regional level need? At least three in each country, which means about 15 in the whole region. We’ve got four and one on the doorstep. They are from Belgrade, which means we don’t have regional distribution, although they all operate on the territory of the entire region. You’re eager to hear who I mean by that? I’ll tell you right away.
These are (listed in alphabetical order so that someone would not take me wrong and think I was listing them by importance): Jadranka Drinić, Direct Media System, Miša Lukić, Publicis One, Ivan Stanković, Communis and Srđan Šaper, I&F McCann Grupa. Very soon they will be joined by Žarko Sakan, Saki’s successor in New Moment. We old are reluctant to let young people in front of us, so Žarko – because of his youth and despite having all the characteristics of a leader – still doesn’t play in the A team of the Champions League.
Wherein lies the greatness of these people? In their belief that they and their companies will do well only if everyone is doing well, if the industry is growing, becoming richer and more successful. And that’s why they support it, and are always the first to support all that is new and that has potential to be useful for the industry.
What did I learn? When you work with the scrapers, you can’t be anything else but a scraper yourself. Stick with the strongest and you will be strong. If you don’t keep your arms extended toward the stars, you will stay in the mud, said one of the greatest legends of advertising, Leo Burnett.
Be careful in choosing those from whom you expect support, don’t rely on those in whom you are not 110% certain
Once again I’m returning to almost the same thing – from who should you expect support when you need it?
What did I learn? When you build something, plan the pillars on which you can stably and safely rely. If they are swaying, dig deeper, seek for stronger support.
True friends are friends forever
Work with friends. An honest friend is the most valuable capital that you can have. In my career so far, if I got close with a business partner, I made a friend – and lost a business partner. Somehow it was always awkward to sell bull… (which people often say for our profession) to a friend. On Tuesday, I had lunch in Zagreb with one of the most successful women in our industry. Upon hearing this story of mine about friends and work, she said: “A friend who doesn’t do business with me, is no friend of mine!”
What did I learn? You should work with friends!