Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Robert Čoban, President, Color Press Group, Novi Sad
A speech that the history will remember as We Shall Fight on the Beaches, was held by Winston Churchill in the British Parliament on 4 June, 1940, at the moment when it seemed that Hitler will stop at nothing in his quest to conquer Europe.
“We shall go on to the end.
We shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence
and growing strength in the air,
we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender!“
That same night Churchill’s speech was read on the BBC Radio, and within 24 hours it was heard by hundreds of millions of people throughout Europe and the British colonies, from the Caribbean to Hong Kong. Sixty years before the advent of social networks, a powerful message, a powerful content, set in the right context, achieved that it was heard by an entire planet in an instant.
For the #Digital2016 conference, which will be held this year in Belgrade on 15 and 16 September, I’m preparing a presentation under this name, on the topic of how our politicians use social networks.
On how it’s used by the politicians, you’ll see if you come to the Digital, and how social networks are used by advertisers and media agencies in the region is a completely separate story, to which I will devote a few lines right here. How, then, today in Serbia and other countries of the region companies fight for customers of their products and services, and how media and PR agencies fight for the “prestige” of their clients?
Let’s start from the fact that apart from a few cases in which social media were dominated by stories like the infamous Trivit Affair, and despite the high penetration of the internet, Twitter and Facebook – the things that happen under the table in the so-called traditional media have a far greater impact on the clients and the agencies.
Yes, I’m talking about the media racket. The one that in Serbia – and I hear our neighbors are not far behind – has almost completely domesticated in part of the daily press and some portals. Examples are many. All know of them, and no one speaks of them publically, because there are too many players on all three sides involved in these Bermuda Triangles, as they are called in Belgrade.
Thus, for example, the national tourism organization of a great country entrusted its whole year’s media budget to a certain agency which – except for OOH – focused it exclusively on just two daily newspapers – which has (of course?) caused a reaction of several other dailies. Thus, in the key pre-season months (February, March, April), we daily read about bombs, terrorists and empty hotels in the said country. The entire anti-campaign has resulted in the information that the number of sold arrangements for this country was five times lower than last year.
Then, a few days later, on one portal appeared a series of articles about another tourist country where sharks eat people, which is threatened by an earthquake “that will take 6,000 lives”, that feces are floating in the sea… The cause was – you can assume – similar! We shall fight on the beaches, said the media who were denied budget they expected to the “disobedient countries”.
In the meantime, clients are threatened by “disturbing stories” of their service users who had been deprived of a liter of fuel at some stations, they were charged a higher interest on their VISA card, or “Jovica from Batočina found a worm in his chocolate”. Immediately appears a PR agency as a mediator, ready to “clean up the crisis”, and, in most cases, some money finds its way to the accounts of the media who had started the hunt, and the things calm down – until the next opportunity.
A marketing director of a large company five years ago complained to me about the racketeering of certain media, with a side note: “Our position is that we do not negotiate with terrorists.” It was then an exception. Today it’s a rule! She then received threats that news will be published how bees in a village near Smederevo drank the juice that the company sells, and then began to sting people. “Aren’t bees usually attracted by sweets, and don’t they usually sting people?!? That’s their sort of a job…” I thought then. Today I realize that this model now reigns supreme. Today in the region it’s easier to get money with a gun in your hand and ha stocking on your head, than with creative and read / listened / watched media products.
Colleague Žarković once wrote that summer is a part of the year when nothing happens, so the media write about the “shale oil” that will revive Serbia, “the mouse in a beer” and similar seasonal nonsense. Today, the “mice in beer” can be found throughout the year, and the summer has become more dynamic than the “death-rattle spring”, both on the global stage (terrorist attacks, coups, Brexi …) and at home (the prime minister that never sleeps, organizing exhibitions, solving problems of “the little man”, but has not yet composed the Government, so everyone is in “quiet suspense”).
A few weeks ago I tried to explain to people from a foreign company why this is so, and how it didn’t happen so much a few years back. The answer is simple: Real money in the market is dwindling, and “players” are still too numerous. There are too many national TV broadcasters in the era of hundreds of cable channels, YouTube and other time-shift options. There are too many daily newspapers, magazines and portals – in the era of social networks and consumers who expect information in an instant…
Report of the Serbian Council for Combating Corruption from half a year ago shed light on another truth about the media scene here. In the past four years, the media in Serbia got more money from various governmental and quasi-governmental sources (non-refundable loans of various state funds, competitions, public companies, ministries…) than from commercial advertisers. Then we read in other media how “some also get big money from the EU” to write “against their own country.”
All in all – the Republic of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (and Rebublika Srpska), Croatia, Vojvodina Province (counties, cantons…), local governments, the EU, foreign foundations and the media racket – these are today the major sources of income of a good part of the media in the region. These! And not the ads of commercial clients.
This situation suits a sizeable part of actors in such a scene on all three sides (media, agencies, marketing departments of companies). Money is flowing, fees are being taken, an occasional summer and winter vacation is taken, lunches are had in sushi bars… An imitation of life and staging of the market is in play… It is, however, the atmosphere of a cheerful party on the Titanic, unavoidably rushing towards an iceberg. It’s only a matter of days when the orchestra will start playing Nearer, My God, to Thee.