Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Asja Dupanović
Maruša Hrovat is a Strategic Planner in Ljubljana’s agency Luna \TBWA – currently the most effective Slovenian agency according to Effie Awards. She has international experience in building brand strategies for various clients, and one of the magic ingredients of her success is the analytical and creative thinking, based on the philosophy of disruption, nurtured by the TBWA network.
MM: What attracted you to start working in the communications industry?
Maruša Hrovat: I was initially interested in media and journalism – in high school I started working at Univox Radio in Kočevje (where I came from) but then I decided to enrol in the Communication School, wanting to gain broader education in this field. During my entire studies, I was an active member of the Student Marketing Association, and in the third year of studies I started working at the Slovenian Advertising Chamber (SOZ), for SOF and Golden Drum festivals. It is there that I really got to know advertising up close. I was fascinated by all the great creative ideas and thought, “I would like to do this.”
MM: Are you in Luna by accident or on purpose? What was your path to the position of a Strategic Planner like?
Maruša Hrovat: I came to Luna by accident. They were looking for an assistant to the project manager, and since they knew that SOZ brings up good staff for work in the agencies, they turned to them. SOZ recommended me and, after several rounds of interviews, I was selected for the position, in which I spent a year and a half. At the end of 2014, I left Luna because of a master’s degree in strategic communication. I spent one semester in Sweden and found that strategic planning was something I was interested in. I thought it could be good for me because it combines analytical and creative thinking. Meanwhile, I was constantly in touch with Dali Bungič, director of Luna. When I expressed my desire to work abroad, we agreed for me to submit my CV to TBWA\Belgium in Brussels. After several interviews with the Strategic Director, I got the opportunity to join the agency’s strategic department as an intern. In April 2016, I returned to Luna and took over the position of a strategic planner.
MM: What did you learn from this experience abroad?
Maruša Hrovat: The studying abroad alone was an unforgettable experience, so I really enjoyed working abroad, knowing that I’m going to one of the strongest agencies in Europe when it comes to strategic planning. I got much more than what I expected. TBWA\Belgium is a large agency with 200 employees, 12 of them working in the strategic department. They work really in depth with clients there. They work a lot on the marketing and business plan. I got very good basics which are key to the work of a strategist. You must accept that at one moment you have a feeling that you know the entire internet by heart because of how much you’re exploring and searching. But this is the only way to create revolutionary ideas, which we always strive for in the TBWA network, always following the disruption methodology. Foreign markets give insight into the fact that everything is possible and nothing is impossible (which is something we have an issue with in our region, because of our small size).
MM: Talent, perseverance, studying hard, good work, support of the team… what do you think is crucial for a young person to grow and succeed in an advertising agency?
Maruša Hrovat: The bases are certainly the senior colleagues who introduce you to the work processes, encourage you, and give you constructive criticism when needed. Agency culture can greatly influence the development of an individual. Talent is, of course, important, especially with creatives, but, in my experience, a man with a talent but without working habits will never develop into, for example, a top copywriter. The world is changing rapidly, and these changes must be followed by the brands we work for. For us, this means continuous monitoring, learning and applying new things.
MM: What kind of projects do you enjoy?
Maruša Hrovat: I love working on challenging projects – on projects requiring me to get engaged, discover and uncover, together with my team find a game changing idea. Of course, there can be no such projects without clients who see the agency not only as a (sub)contractor, but a true partner. Luckily, at Luna, we have clients who have trust in us and with whom we collaborate very successfully.
MM: Which campaign offered you a special challenge and remained a good memory?
Maruša Hrovat: It’s hard to single out just one. Since I’m still only at the beginning of my career, I’m trying to approach every project with a desire to create something new, something additional, so that I can say that I’ve learned something I haven’t known before. I also try to explore what kind of tools are out there, and every time I use (or try) something new, based on which our creatives can create a great campaign.
MM: The whole world is in a state of crisis. People say that creative ideas can help solve a range of problems. What is your opinion on that?
Maruša Hrovat: For decades now, creative ideas have been solving clients’ problems and allowing them to grow, there’s no doubt about that. Byron Sharp, in his book How brands grow, has empirically demonstrated that advertising is affecting sales, although this impact is long-term and difficult to show. If we look at social issues, the beauty of creativity is that it knows how to look at them from a different angle and to persuade people in a way that triggers emotions and thus increases the possibility of change. It is true that habits are most difficult to change. That is why it is even more important to dedicate a lot of time to strategic thinking and seeking a real insight into the characteristics of the consumer.
MM: What should the young leaders learn and adopt from their senior colleagues?
Maruša Hrovat: It’s hard to mention just a few things. In our business, experience is very important, and senior colleagues have plenty of experience. It really pays off to listen to their advice, because, in most cases, they are right.
MM: And what should they definitely discard from that legacy?
Maruša Hrovat: We Millennials are accustomed to things going fast, not respecting the authority, and we are spoiled, but it seems to me that all this makes us function much better in this industry. If our older colleagues are used to hierarchy (only the director of the agency can communicate with the CEO, while assistants keep quiet) and follow certain more-or-less meaningful steps in the process (like waiting for two weeks for some confirmation), It seems quite natural to us youngsters to state our opinion out loud and immediately, upon agreeing on something, start implementing it. This is certainly our advantage.
MM: What would you advise your peers – to join you in this industry or try to find a better job?
Maruša Hrovat: There’s no better job than advertising. It’s true that the #agencylife has become quite hectic in recent years, and therefore more stressful, but it can also be a great opportunity for all those who want a challenge, because they can progress more quickly. Besides, the feeling after you create a good campaign is priceless.
MM: How do you see the future of advertising?
Maruša Hrovat: Over the last few years, the agency market became quite fragmented. Digital, PR, content, even sports agencies have made their contribution, which sometimes brought to a schizophrenic popping up of brands, and weakened their intangible value – the biggest and most important value of a company from the business point of view. Some clients already recognize this and that is why we are returning to the full service, integrated communication strategically building the story of a brand. In our work, we are increasingly seeing the emergence of projects which include the media side, and therefore it is great that OMD and PHD media agencies also work under our roof. With their help, we can really tackle projects comprehensively. Because of the proliferation of channels, work in advertising will remain a very intense job, but all of the materials will have to be part of the broader strategic brand orientation, shall they wish to be successful. The position of automation is also interesting. A few years ago, BBC created a tool showing how likely it is that you will be replaced by a robot in your workplace. For employees in advertising agencies (both project managers and creatives) this probability is small (we are in the last third of professions in the ranking). For designers, this danger almost doesn’t exist (5% probability). This means that we don’t have to fear losing our jobs in the near future.
MM: Do you have any free time, and how do you enjoy spending it?
Maruša Hrovat: Besides communication, a large part of my life is music. I sing in the Vocabella ensamble, which takes away a big chunk of my free time but, at the same time, is one of the most beautiful things I do. I really love to travel. I have the goal to visit all European capitals by the age of 30 – I’m currently at 22. Lately I’ve been reading a lot (primarily professional literature) because I realized how important it is for me to be well informed of the various areas related to marketing, communication, brands etc.