Tijana Škorić Tomić, Executive Director, I&F McCann Grupa:

Focusing On Quality, Best People And Pushing Boundaries

I&F McCann Grupa Executive Director, Tijana Škorić Tomić, is at the head of a team which is celebrating an important jubilee this year. More than 600 employees in 12 markets will celebrate its 20th anniversary

Since its establishment, I&F McCann Grupa has been pushing the boundaries of business in an innovative way, from spreading to other markets, introduction of new services, first Cannes prizes in the region, the development of the profession and good business practices, to the continuous development of an inexhaustible group of talented individuals who are leaders in various fields. The previous year was marked by its expansion of operations to the Nordic countries.

For several years, since the beginning of the global economic crisis, we have recorded continuous declines in the budget for advertising. How are these trends reflected on the business in your industry?
As a company that operates in 12 markets, we listen to how advertisers breathe both in the south and in the north of Europe. And we live the business life together with our clients, partners, in an environment affected by the force of the economy – we are delighted when any of the markets in which we operate start growing. Since the occurrence of the global crisis, our industry has undergone a major transformation. Our goal has always been dedicated to finding the most effective solutions for our clients. “Where the peril is, also grows the salvation” is a favourite quote of our founder Srđan Šaper. This is also reflected in our constant commitment to improving our organisational structure, and our flexibility of an organisation that can provide its clients with the best service in any market and achieve good results for our clients. In the North, budget increase is perceived by clients as an investment in the growth of their own business. In this regard the South is still not open, decrease in the clients’ budget is the result of conservative business, and in this respect it represents a continuous reduction in operating costs. Both approaches are completely legitimate, but I perceive the first one as of better quality in the long term and the only sustainable one. These are two completely different approaches, you will agree. 

In the North, budget increase is perceived by clients as an investment in the growth of their own business. In this regard the South is still not open, decrease in the clients’ budget is the result of conservative business, and in this respect it represents a continuous reduction in operating costs. Both approaches are completely legitimate, but I perceive the first one as of better quality in the long term and the only sustainable one. These are two completely different approaches, you will agree

To what extent is it possible to insist on quality and innovation in an industry in which everyone is fighting for survival?
I&F McCann Grupa is a multidisciplinary company, versatile in its qualities and services. In addition to creativity and deep knowledge of consumer behaviour in the media environment, which makes us well-known in the region, we have also recently committed ourselves to digital development. For example, we will apply the business model of our Drive agency to the Nordic market. The reason why our business partners place their trust in us is that we always insist on quality and pushing boundaries. This is supported by our long-term cooperation with the leading advertisers, as well as numerous awards. Also, the development of the talent pool is an essential characteristic of our company, our goal is the best people in the right positions, as well as continuous investment in their education.
The modern age requires adaptation of our behaviour, and requires innovation in all professions, regardless of whether you are a creative person, an engineer, or you are engaged in investments, like me.

We are entering the celebration satisfied with the year in which we have become an agency that covers a market of 58 million people, has won numerous awards, won new clients and introduced new services, and this is a great way to celebrate the anniversary in a good atmosphere and with further development plans

This year you celebrate 20 years of existence. What would you highlight as the key milestones in the work of the Grupa?
I do not want to be falsely modest, but I think that I can rightfully say that we have often been the first to do many things. From the unification of business in the region, the clients we have worked with since our establishment until today, the first Cannes Lion, innovative campaigns, through new services, Wave and McCann Truth Central research which has helped us discover the truth about consumers, to the fact that we are the first in our industry to expand business to the Nordic region. This is the confirmation of the vision set by Srđan Šaper from the first day. We have a dedicated team, client confidence, as well as courage and wisdom to make the decisions that seem risky at first but ultimately prove to be properly thought out in strategic terms. We are entering the celebration satisfied with the year in which we have become an agency that covers a market of 58 million people, has won numerous awards, won new clients and introduced new services, and this is a great way to celebrate the anniversary in a good atmosphere and with further development plans.

I&F McCann Grupa in 2016 expanded its operations to Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. How has this contributed to the work of  the company?
The basic idea of the business expansion is to become even more competitive, and the vision of Srđan Šaper implies the search for new challenges, and their transformation into success stories of people who make I&F McCann Grupa. Now we cover 12 markets, and it is already a serious force on the international scene, and also it is the knowledge that comes from different backgrounds, experiences and customs. We will work towards sharing teams, experience, and knowledge in all markets, and we are already working together in areas where we have identified as potential for growth. It is a great thing to see that the Nordics can learn from us, it makes us proud.
I believe that the synergy of the two regions, two different energies, will give an excellent result which will bring benefits, above all to our clients who will get the best of the South and the North in one place, tailored to their specific needs.

The new era requires from us to constantly educate ourselves, to use different skills, in a range of strategists, linguists, analysts, programmers. Inspired people, with their ideas, knowledge and experience – make the distinction that gives us the advantage in the market

Are you still planning to grow through acquisitions, and how challenging is it today to run a company with several hundred employees?
The year behind us was a year of great enrichment of our business family, so next year we shall have an opportunity to round up everything we have done so far. Although, knowing Srđan Šaper and his spirit, he will surely ask, “What’s next? Let us see what the next step is in our growth.” If there is a good opportunity, of course we’ll enter a new market. However, next year is primarily intended for the strengthening of our teams. Our strength is reflected in the power of our people. You cannot have a quality team if you do not know your people. Different individuals are motivated by different things, and the task of the first among equals is to recognise the difference. The bottom line is to find, in each team member, the thing that motivates them, the thing that drives them and their environment – so that we can all move forward. This is something our company has been dedicated to since the first day.

In Europe, which is in a continuous crisis, these negative trends have been reflected in the marketing budgets and the decline in innovation. Where you do you find your inspiration?
New technologies in the digital age are offering possibilities that could not be imagined just a few years ago. Even in a challenging environment, they have offered numerous ways for the company to continue the development. But they have also presented numerous new challenges. It is no longer enough to know your client’s business well, to participate in the building of its brand or to be deeply familiar with the target group. Today, messages are made for individuals. And that is a huge field where we seek our inspiration for success. After the era of information, we are moving back to the era of empathy, nurturing human relationships. The new era requires from us to constantly educate ourselves, to use different skills, in a range of strategists, linguists, analysts, programmers. Inspired people, with their ideas, knowledge and experience – make the distinction that gives us the advantage in the market.