Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
I have to be honest with you, it’s gotten increasingly difficult for me to write columns. Not because I don’t want to or because of a lack of ideas, but because I don’t know what Media Marketing readers like to read. I don’t know which target group to write for, how many of them there are or from which country, how much experience and knowledge they have, what their interests are or whether they are clients, media or agency folk. I am stuck on whether to write about advertising, about the market here in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, about all the great things I’ve learned this year or to simply ‘wing it’ and see how I go. So, because I don’t know much, I thought it would be best if I wrote you a letter, the kind you send to an old friend and comrade in advertising.
Advertising, my friend, is far different from how it’s perceived, interpreted and looked upon here in Bosnia. So much has changed since the beginning of my career. We no longer use or rely on faxes, landlines, letters or advertising postcards. Dozens of brands that held high rankings on the Fortune 500, brands that we thought would be around forever, are no longer here. Floppy discs, CD’s, BETA cassettes are all a thing of the past. Just recently, I saw a small camera that is capable of recording more fps (frames per second) than any world class camera could a few years ago. 4K resolution, ISO 500,000. When paired up with phenomenal mobile apps for video editing, not much work is left for large production teams (no more of that “sound go, camera go…” – now it’s all a one man show). Not so long ago, we all used to share and send video materials on BETA cassettes via buses because it was quicker and cheaper than express post. Today (almost) in real-time, for free, we share massive amounts of materials through a variety of services.
My dear Ekrem, in this era of mobile technology, phenomenal internet speed, different apps and devices which use all of that to the maximum, the speed has become unbearable. The iPad Pro is bigger, better and faster than the MacBook Air that I own – the resolution is phenomenal, drawings instantly become actual images, designs, wireframes… Collaboration has become easier than ever, which makes me question the need for an internal server or an office.
Many of our services are now being replaced by specialized software, for analytics, planning, placement and even ad creation. With this rising technology, endless amount of media, information being sent and received, everything has become quite unbearable. There’s such a huge number of relevant media, influencers and information sources, that I’m afraid I might miss out on something. So, I read, study, test myself and when I’m done I repeat the whole process, enough to drive you crazy. :)
Apparently, the average client in the USA is worth about $80 million a year, and they use more than 5,000 channels for communicating with customers. In addition, all clients who want to be leaders within their chosen industry, create their own channels for communication. They educate their current, potential and future customers. They offer them content that will bring them even closer to the brand, every part of their communication is scrutinized, not a single detail is missed. Reputation management has become an integral part of communication building, buyers want to be close to the people behind the brand, not just the brand and products. Because of this, social media managers here and abroad have all started acting like celebrities. Smart companies have realized that, in addition to paid advertising, they must work extra hard to attract customers to other media outlets they may have, as well as all the faces behind the brand, whom they can bond with. If this is done right, these brands will never have to rely on some editor and his/her goodwill. Power is no longer in the hands of the people who create an image for us, the real power, strength and attention is in the hands of the customers and influencers, who are now equally important as a popular news anchor was 20 years ago. Some of them (e.g. Kardashians/Jenners) get paid a whopping amount, just to write a post about a brand. They were quick to realize the power of reality TV, the internet and social media, and are now stronger than any other brand in the world. Reputation management rules :)
Large advertising networks are changing faster and faster. For decades, they simply refused to do so, so they piled up all sorts of things; just like a hoarder would in an apartment, they simply cannot bear to clean. There comes a time when two TV’s are stacked on top of each other, when you don’t have anywhere to put your WiFi speakers because the old Hi-Fi stereo is in the way. You’re constantly tripping over old things, things you don’t have the heart to throw out. Let’s not forget, we’re talking about a really old apartment, which is no longer in function, the fittings are badly worn out, almost nothing has been upgraded, it’s so old it can’t even be defined as ‘vintage’, this is a place you hate waking up in and to. You only have one option, and that is to change everything. You throw everything out. You change the windows, doors, fittings. You upgrade to high speed internet, knock down a few walls for extra space and throw in some new furniture for a minimalist vibe. You paint your walls in bright colors to encourage creativity. After WPP and MediaCom first made significant changes, other networks worldwide were quick to follow. Currently, Publicis Group is changing at its core. The top division of large networks, which we admired so much, is disappearing. Specialized hubs and outlets are being created, creative agencies come together and are integrated into Publicis Communication, Starcom and ZenithOptimedia. They become Publicis Media, with only one director. Publicis. Sapient will become a digital agency, all agencies who are involved in health care advertising move to Publicis Health. We are not just talking about changing a few names on the board, or the management of Publicis Group. This is a change that extends vertically and horizontally. New positions are created: a Chief Client Officer, who will come from the holding company and will manage a large number of teams. They will also be responsible for the full range of services, knowledge and experience provided by the holding company (Publicis Groupe), regardless of the discipline or country they originate from. People like this will have to be magicians, who know the ins and outs of discipline, because (a repeat of an earlier fact) the average client in the USA is worth $80 million USD and uses more than 5,000 channels. And what about the rest of the world, the total budget and number of advertising channels? How many magicians of this kind are there in the world, who could work with all these brands, campaigns, who could lead the brainstorming process, how this will function nobody knows. Maurice Levy has convinced the Supervising Board, and they have made a decision. Chances are they had no chance of success, especially during the period of the auditing of major media agencies in the USA, conducted by a world leading brand (currently SMV agency). Maybe these aren’t massive changes after all, we still function as a “full service agency”, and so we feel no need to change. During the 20 years spent lagging behind the USA, big groups have used the changes to their advantage, making a full 360 and coming back to do it all over again. Meanwhile, we stand still, in the same spot :) .
I have to mention that small companies are, more than ever, winning over the global market. Some companies (e.g. Uber), which five years ago didn’t have even $5,000 for a website, today have taken on the whole world. They say that most of the brands on the Fortune 500 could be replaced by 2020 by brands that may not even exist yet. Social media networks have democratized advertising, so now every small brand has a shot at competing with the world’s biggest brands. They sell online, distribute via drones, change their prices all the time, make ads in minutes or hours, so they are quicker, more relevant and better than the big brands. Because of them, big companies have welcomed the so called “startup culture”, a tempo and culture that often brings stress to the employees who are used to a “slow rhythm”. Trusting bigger brands has become tougher and more questionable, due to scandals and lies (read the VW catastrophe). The resistance to multinational corporations has increased but so has the power of small companies and brands.
As far as MITA Group and our market is concerned, I admit that I cannot be disappointed with 2015. I have travelled halfway around the world, attended almost all of the conferences in the region, had the opportunity to present to a lot of them, talked to numerous experts, we have maintained our business volume and standard, we can expect new contracts. My colleagues from the agency are constantly looking to educate themselves more. They are looking to go further than the industry they already work in. Projects that we successfully launched at a global level (ContentCreatorApp.com, appssolut.com), as well as local projects such as Good News, all forced us many years ago to restructure and reconsider.
We operate as SAS types, using our joint knowledge, experience and areas of specialty as a team. This has brought us a long stretch of won pitches, (I must admit, 85% of pitches don’t get sent out, this is due to finding out beforehand that the existing agency will retain the contract, or it will be given to a predetermined agency.) This reminds me of the changes that Publicis is looking to introduce to their business, and what I personally proposed back in 2002, at the Regional Management Meeting held in Bled (forming of Centre of Excellence teams). Our domestic clients, in most cases, have not changed much. Very few understand the important changes in branding and advertising, and many have taken a few steps back. Their ignorance is covered up by their arrogance, their growth, which may have been caused by competitive advantage or “happier times” (which we have all had in the business) has halted them in the process of creating powerful and irreplaceable brands. What their ego tells them is one thing, what something actually looks like is a completely different thing. Creativity and ideas are not appreciated until lightning strikes them. Their ego is bigger than Bjelašnica (a mountain in BiH), and their small minded antics, which they picked up from their “hood”, are visible to everyone at a 100 miles. If the amount of false advertising and product presentations were all taken into account by the world’s courts, these brands would be stripped of their reigning titles. Nevertheless, we are in luck my friend. There are organizations and companies in this world who have taken important lessons from their work environment. They have learned things the hard way, hired smart people, further educated them, they have taught them that agencies are to produce maximum quality and creativity. Clients like this are slowly taking over the market and I really do enjoy working with them. We respect one another, we have a mutual desire for progress, we exchange ideas and information, just like any proper employees of a company would.
Some agencies in BiH will cease their operations as of 31 December 2015, whilst some will stop working in 2016. A large number of networks and regional agencies in BiH have changed partners in 2015, and most big clients have changed and are still changing agencies (Henkel, Unilever – 2x in a year, Ferrero – 2x a year, Nestlé, Eronet, Beiersdorf …). The media are under even more pressure, struggling to survive the departure of their audience to a number of foreign / cable channels. And let’s not forget the fall of fees below the survival rate. Some agencies have stopped operating on a profit basis, they simply roll over their debts from one client to another. I may sound really negative, but the market is sinking, one step at a time, and our colleges still can’t provide a workforce for employment. There is no market with quality staff, no free programmers, there is no educational institution that can cater to new digital and social media managers, the startup scene in BiH is almost non-existent. But, they say we should not complain, in the USA alone only 15% of those who graduate from college will find work in their field.
Therefore, I make sure I constantly visit conferences to talk to people from other “ecosystems”, so that I can pass on new learning to my clients, colleagues and the projects we have initiated. But we’ll probably get the Association of the Marketing Industry; and The Sarajevo Marketing Summit in its second year is a phenomenal event that gathers professionals from our entire industry. This only shows that we can do better and that we want to change things for the better.
There you are my friend, I went a little crazy with my word count. Some might even get offended reading this. Perhaps it would have been better for me to recite the lyrics from the late Kemal Monteno, who sang these lyrics, during the war, to the late Arsen Dedić:
“….If you ask me how I am
Were only two to smash near you
It would speak for itself
May this never be repeated on anyone again…”
Yours, Ejub Kučuk, CEO MITA Group Sarajevo
P.S. do not tell anyone what I wrote :)