This year will be even more challenging for agencies than last year, says Tijana Škorić Tomić, Executive Director at I&F McCann Grupa.
How do you see the previous period and how do you envisage the business climate for the functioning of the agency in 2016?
– Last year was a successful one for I&F McCann Grupa. Despite the bad economic indicators, the constant reductions in advertising investments, the development of new services and the provision of the best service to our clients, we succeeded, in business terms, to complete the year successfully. The crisis did not discourage us, but rather inspired us to develop further. Last year was also marked by the successful completion of the acquisition process for McCann and Universal McCann in Croatia. That was a very intensive process, with which we finalised our strategic position in the 8 countries in the region.
I am proud of the awards we received, which bear witness to the fact that, even in difficult times, we remain faithful to the quality of service that we provide to our clients. Here I am primarily thinking of the SAM Award for Regional Project, as well as Mc- Cann Beograd being recognised as the most successful agency of the year on Festival “Kaktus”.
In 2016, unfortunately, I don’t think there will be significant changes. The investment activities of advertisers will remain at a similar or slightly lower level. The trend of budget reductions will continue, while the absolute focus in the selection of agencies will continue to be focused on price. Our preliminary internal estimates indicate that the market will be 10-15 % lower compared to 2015. The struggle continues and we will continue with the strategy of growth through export and the detection of new synergies.
Constant development of our teams, education and experience that we have, as well as the tools we possess, enable us to offer clients comprehensive and high-quality services both in serbia and see
Companies operating in the market of Southeast Europe increasingly demand an integrated service on multiple markets from agencies. I&F McCann Grupa operates successfully on eight markets. How do you respond to these demands from companies?
– The idea of I&F McCann Grupa founder Srđan Šaper, to build a system that operates in multiple markets, has influenced us to constantly move towards selection of the best personnel, while on the other hand we work on efficiency and build relationships with business partners that will exceed the standard of a specific market. Our comparative advantage is that to each and every client, in multiple markets, we can provide services of the same quality – from strategic planning, creative, media buying, to digital and production. A unified, integrated team, constant education and the experience we have, as well as the tools we possess, enable us to provide comprehensive high quality services to our clients.
An additional challenge is that we don’t only operate on markets that are linguistically close to us, but rather also for other European markets. An example of that is Schweppes, for which we work on 23 markets, and Air Serbia on some campaigns for 16 markets.
The consolidation of our operations in SE Europe, positioned us to become one of the world’s biggest affiliate partners of McCann Worldgroup. That is a confirmation of our long-standing partnerships with one of the leading international companies, which see us as a reliable and successful partner.
Does Serbia have adequate infrastructure that would enable agencies to implement global trends and standards, and thus effectively service the needs of advertisers?
– I believe that adequate infrastructure exists, or could exist. The question is how much of its profits each company wants to invest in constructing that. We are doing that, and doing so continuously. Our clients recognised us as a partner that can provide services for their brands on various markets that are characterised by specific economic, social and cultural contexts. We are characterised by the possession and use of global know-how, which we combine with a profound knowledge of local markets and consumers.
Our preliminary internal estimates indicate that advertising Market will be 10 to 15 % lower compared to 2015, but we are Continuing with our growth strategy through export and The detection of new synergies
What do you think are the key factors for clients when selecting an agency? And what is required to forge good relations between advertisers and agencies?
– One selection parameter is the quality of service, which is reflected in the satisfaction of clients with the service they receive. This entails, strong and educated team with experience, our investment in research, use of various proprietary tools, strategic planning, where necessary forming of regional teams, providing best in class integrated or specialised services. Client satisfaction is measured by agency evaluations that are carried out according to a previously agreed schedule. That is an excellent process that constantly indicates what can be done better. Where clients do not insist – we insist.
The second parameter is familiarity with a client’s business model. Then an agency also receives the role of a business consultant. We monitor clients’ goals and understand their consumers and users, and thus we participate in building the company’s brand, whether this relates to creative campaigns, media placements, digital or creating a specific content . In the end, clients have their own KPIs that they must satisfy. We are part of this strategic process from their side.
The third is certainly prior experience and the trust that is essential for long-term, high quality cooperation. We constantly monitor the results of clients’ campaigns and compare them to their business results. Their success is also our success.
Where do you see the future of advertising?
– In personalisation, which does not mean rejecting the use of traditional media, but rather integration with digital media. We are bombarded on a daily basis with different messages and contents. The modern consumer today has the “right to vote” through content sharing and comments, through which they are involved in the process of creating and changing brands through social media networks. It is no longer enough to be innovative and interesting. It is necessary, in this “forest” of different messages, to get through to the consumer. It’s all about discovering and taking advantage of that relevant moment. This requires experience, expertise, intuition and creativity in order to discover and “target” that moment. And we have that and are capable of that.
What are the current issues of the profession and the future challenges that will have to be faced by local agencies in the fields of marketing communications?
– We have invested a lot in communication that relates to our industry, our agencies, projects, but primarily is focused on our people. We educate the public through our constant activity in professional and business associations, because it is important for the public to understand that marketing is definitely not “selling fog”. Also we are very dedicated in improving our industry’s legislature and ethical standards, we have actively participated in composition of new Advertising law that will be in harmonisation with EU regulation. Further, as one of the initiators and future founders, we are working on establishment of advertising selfregulatory body. Industry representatives should contribute additionally to improving overall awareness, in order to ensure better understanding of the fact that marketing is an essential link in the successful operations of any company in the world. It is not sufficiently known how much the communications industry, as part of the creative industries, contributes to GDP, how many people it employs, and in which way it represents the driving force that inspires and launches further development.