Dejan Ranđić, General Manager of DNA Communications:

Crisis Is No Longer An Excuse

Consumer habits have been changing, and with them – ways to reach consumers. The difference is in new dedication to communication...

Our cooperation with most of our present clients has already lasted a long time, and is based exclusively on results and our contribution to them. “Strategy-Results-Support” is much more than something we say;  it describes our main focus on a strategic approach and mutual work towards achieving results. The last year was a challenging one, but one filled with successes for us. We continued our cooperation with existing clients and also gained some new ones. We can even say that 2016 was the year we grew most. Although locally orientated, we worked for our clients on many foreign markets, which is a precious experience. We’re now active on 10 different markets.

The global economic crisis led to a reduction in advertising budgets with the simultaneous need for greater efficiency. How have you responded to these challenges?
The global crisis is far behind us. It is still visible when comparing budgets with the period “before the crisis” and in dominant “hard selling” activities, focused on products, special offers, discounts etc. But time has passed and new circumstances don’t allow crisis to be an excuse anymore. Consumer habits have changed, and with them – ways to reach consumers. Just remember that “before the crisis” we had no social networks and you can grasp the change. The difference is in new dedication to communication, in the fact that big companies using traditional media are no longer efficient enough to justify enormous investments. A large chunk of the population does not follow the traditional media and the only way to reach them is to be where they are… These changes have nothing to do with budgets. The answer is in partnerships between clients and agencies to transform the message and communicate. Our obligation is to direct and lead the clients, even before they recognise that need themselves.

What prompted you to start a project like Employer Branding in the period of reducing advertising budgets? 
Employer Branding is one of the key topics for any company, but too little is known about it; it’s rarely discussed and almost nothing is being done. Employees are inextricably linked to a company’s image, but also to the communication of products and services. Employer Branding is much more than HR support and the “desired employer” definition. More than ever, success depends on the team and climate, and on the dedication of staff to their corporate brand. Employer Branding works on exactly that connection, which is what prompted us.

How does it feel when an agency opens a pitch and switches roles?
A “pitch for clients”, we now realised for the second time with the Serbian Association of Managers (SAM), serves to direct clients to where we want them – it’s about the mentioned role and obligation of agencies to sometimes steer and lead. We’re very satisfied with the process and the response from companies. I think we managed to shed some light on Employer Branding as a major communication topic, to make them think about it and ask themselves why they didn’t do it earlier.

With what expectations did you enter 2017 and where you expect good and bad market news to come from?
Nothing suggests that 2017 will differ significantly. Trends will continue, both the positive and the negative ones. I’d like to see agencies as important business partners of their clients, meaning that they trust us and are more flexible and daring in decisions. The key process in any company, regardless of the branch, will be to find new business models, which is mostly dictated by communication innovations and new target group habits. It is precisely in this process that partnership between clients and agencies is vital, but lots of learning is also demanded in order to have global practices properly applied to our specific market.
Employer Branding or: Return of the Brand!
In a branding deficit, we wanted to do something…

There have been almost no corporate campaigns in Serbia lately, just products, discounts, special offers… No company values, messages intended for staff, employees, clients, partners… At the same time, as an agency, we felt like we were becoming a service supermarket (however professional and creative), so we decided to do something for corporate communication in Serbia. And to have some fun!

And we chose Employer Branding!

…meaning: the promotion of a company or organisation as a desired employer, via its corporate values, culture and climate. Why Employer Branding? We wanted companies to think about how they present themselves, what atmosphere they create, to engage on their brand as employers… One more reason: to get better clients (for us, agencies)!

So we opened a pitch!

Yes, an agency opened a pitch… because it’s a familiar process, just with a role reversal. And to enjoy a bit in being the one who gets to choose. So we invited companies to describe the values of their corporate brand, with a deadline and an expert team in charge of the decision. We tried not to be late.

Nothing succeeds like success!

This winter, in the second such pitch, the winner secured the prize: a thoroughly prepared Employer Branding Strategy by us! It’s a prize for us, too: a chance to work with great clients on great corporate stories, to bring the need for such communication into the spotlight.

And all that – with the best possible partners!

Companies that understand and wish to take part in our pitch are surely clients that any agency would be delightful to have and to work with.