With more than 20 years’ worth of experience in the marcomm industry, both in agencies and on the clients’ side, Svetlana Bulacu, managing partner of Propaganda agency, spoke with BR about the company’s results from 2017 and what lays ahead for 2018, but at the same time about the industry’s challenges, trends and connectivity to the international scene.
By Romanita Oprea
How was 2017 for the agency in terms of turnover /revenues?
2017 was a good year for Propaganda in terms of turnover and revenue. Due to our extension of client portfolio, we were able to achieve better results in 2018, with an increase of almost 35 percent in turnover and 25 percent in profit.
What were the departments that were most successful? What about the least successful ones?
We are a full service agency and we mainly serve our clients with more than one department, therefore all of our departments were doing better than the previous year. I could nominate though the BTL, digital and media departments as being the “stars” of 2018.
What about the pitches you attended?
We have entered in the pitches with high potential for our company development, we have to admit the previous year was a year full of challenges and pitches and we had to select our projects based on our strategic business development criteria.
How would you characterize the local advertising/ PR industry in 2018 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity, etc?
When the water enters into the port – all the boats are going up. The advertising industry is one of the economic development gauges of the economy. Romania is the tiger of Europe, so advertising is following the general economic context.
Still early to say, as we are only in April, but for the moment it seems like a dynamic environment. We are all still confused by the social context, not knowing exactly what to expect in terms of legislation and changes and our clients operate in the same mindset. Creativity wise, it looks like a good year. Both local and international clients are willing to spend and brave enough to dare more than the usual stuff.
What were the campaigns done by the other agencies in Romania that you admired and why?
Mostly, each and one success in terms of creativity, no matter the agency, it’s a success for the industry overall. A very successful and daring campaign was the OLX #Bebebine. We always admire campaigns that manage to draw attention and drive real results.
What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2017 and how did they come to happen?
2017 was a year of change for us. We are now a mid-size agency in terms of number of people and size of business. Which is not an easy position on the market, but also not easy to run from the interior. We had as objective to better serve our clients and become more efficient, all while not compromising in our focus on creativity. Therefore, we needed to adjust all our internal procedures, teams, processes but also Clients portfolio. We have now more long term Clients that “run” on a monthly fee and a more structured Agency. It’s a work in progress process, anyway, but the results are already visible. Also, considering the fact that we are a full service agency, one of our priorities is to integrate the marketing and communication operation of our clients under the same direction, in order to create the right synergies between strategy, creativity, digital, media in order to achieve and exceed the client business objectives.
What trends did you notice on the local market last year and how do you intend to follow them /represent them at our agency?
We have noticed more integrated campaigns, driven more and more by the digital channel. Also we notice the digital is part of almost all communication pieces in various combinations: ATL –digital, BTL – digital, digital – branding, trade marketing – digital. We intend to innovate more here, riding the wind of change and be one of the accelerators of the change in the market. Seizing the opportunity of this trend we‘ll go for the right people and skills.
What do you foresee for 2018 from this point of view?
Full of challenges and with high potential, in terms of development and market opportunities. We have the chance of being one of the market makers in the category and we hope to achieve this. We believe the digital (including here the social media) is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the communication plan for our clients. This is a trend started many years ago, but only now it feels like getting into the mainstream of a communication plan.
What is your goal for 2018 in terms of revenue, but also new clients, employees, etc?
We have to grow bigger than the industry (which in our estimation is +20 percent this year). We are building good communication plans for our clients which we hope to allow us among the winners of the growth in terms for business and business performance. Also the new business part is important and we have a special focus here, we like to compete, we like to meet new clients and to solve business problems and challenges.
Overall objective – to dare more. To be brave in the creative department based on a solid strategy.
What do you wish for the local industry this year?
To play the big games. To count on strategy and be brave. To look for creative campaigns, always based on a good idea.
How do you see the Romanian market connected to the international one at this moment?
Not necessary connected. I do not see the new trends being adopted here as fast as they are adopted there. They also reach mainstream in terms of usage much slower than in other countries. We are hopeful that the social and political environment will let us reach the potential.
Where is the local industry still lacking and what can it be changed?
We miss scale. Projects that are bigger in relevance than the local market. Projects that go hand in hand with the social momentum. I believe we have gotten too comfortable and we should look to evolve, to change, to live in our times. It is a big world out there. We should aim to be part of it.