Cheil | Centrade, the regional advertising, marketing and business intelligence hub for the Korean Cheil network in Southeast Europe, saw a single-digit growth in its 2020 turnover and a profit margin of 15-20%, on the background of a stable customer portfolio and the consolidation of its digital arm.
“There is little doubt that 2020 was, beyond any definition, an exceptional and revolutionary year. Our industry has been going through fundamental changes and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these changes and forced us further in a direction that we were already driving towards,” says Radu Florescu, CEO Cheil | Centrade. “Our in-house advantage of digitalization – a transformation that began four years ago – has facilitated our transition and readied our team for 2021. Plans for 2021 aim for a 10% increase, based also on the potential of the data analysis and digital content management division.”
Being present in 11 markets in Southeast Europe, Cheil | Centrade is one of the largest integrated communication companies in Romania, with offices in Bucharest, Belgrade, Budapest, and Zagreb. Its portfolio includes brands such as Samsung, Pfizer, First Bank, ENGIE Romania, NN Romania, Raiffeisen Bank, Dr. Oetker, Mondelez, KTI, Point Pickup, ANAIS Association, and United Way. Its Digital Intelligence and Analytics (DIA) – a unique center in Europe – provides integrated services that assist companies to better understand collected data and use it efficiently.
For the Cheil | Centrade team, 2020 was an adaptation test to the fast pace and large volume of projects, given the exceptional conditions of remote work and almost exclusively digital interaction.
Carmen Miruță, Client Service & New Business Director: “The year 2020 came with many challenges but most clients pushed further with their projects, which favored a stability in terms of marketing budgets and communication plans and even resulted into slight growth compared to last year. This year we added four new clients to our portfolio. Throughout 2020 we focused on strengthening relationships to secure a solid foundation to our partnerships, by implementing efficient processes, strong ideas, fast and productive solutions. We have also developed a lot of creative projects, which will definitely win awards at festivals next year.”
Mihai Gongu, Creative Director (ECD): “Paradoxically, 2020 was probably one of our best years at Cheil | Centrade. We won several important creative pitches on the local and regional market, and we launched strategic communication platforms through large-scale integrated campaigns for each of the new brands in our portfolio. All these achievements meant greater efforts from the team due to work from home restrictions, for which all colleagues deserve outmost respect. Last but not least, in line with Cheil | Centrade’s long-lasting tradition of ‘doing good with data’, we helped non-governmental organizations with several awareness campaigns for social causes that got the industry’s recognition.”
Cheil | Centrade’s 2020 campaigns are already getting acknowledgement both locally and internationally. The agency was named Best Creative Agency of the Year in Romania in TopFICE, an independent and impartial ranking based on agencies’ performance at local and international festivals, as well as awards ceremonies. FICE (Festival Internacional de Creatividad y Estrategia) was launched in 2011 in South America, later being rebranded TopFICE. Starting this year, it also evaluates agencies in North America and Europe. This year’s ranking looked at 1,190 agencies from 59 countries and 89 festivals.
“2020 has challenged us enormously at an administrative and logistic level, but it has certainly pushed the creative talent of our colleagues, who were forced to outline entire campaigns under conditions that few of us would have thought possible in real life,” adds Radu Florescu. “We are honored by this international distinction for creativity, especially since most of this year’s projects had an important social component.”
Monica Garbur, Audio Video Production Director: “2020 was the year we learned that boundaries do not exist. We have probably gathered hundreds of hours of preparation, filming and post-production work for ten big, original campaigns, and many other campaigns that were made exclusively in post-production, all under pandemic restrictions, social distancing, strict protection rules and lots of emotions. I learned that it’s all about willpower, organization, team work and adaptability. Our long-term production and post-production partners have reinvented themselves many times over to finalize filming and photo shoots at the standard of quality that our clients are used to. I, for one, can say that I had a very good year and have learnt a lot.”
Gabriela Nanu, Business Director Cheil | Centrade: “In 2020, most companies had to develop digital capabilities and assets that they will continue using in the long run. Social media platforms are now full funnel and allow more than just awareness and engagement with customers, they also allow direct sales, so brands targeting Millennials and Generation Z audiences have invested higher budgets in creating content for these platforms. I believe this trend will continue post-pandemic, even in industries that traditionally rely on direct interaction (such as the pharmaceutical industry).”
The agency’s recent portfolio includes brand communication campaigns and social responsibility projects like:
– Development and launch of the NN Romania brand communication platform Alternativa NN („The NN Alternative”);
– Development and launch of the Engie Romania brand communication platform Creează cu Engie un nou început (Create a new beginning with Engie);
– The #IzoleazaViolenta (#IsolateViolence) campaign, launched by the ANAIS Association in support of the domestic violence victims. Campaign awarded with: Best Ads on TV Top Six of the Week / AdForum Best Print / White Square Belarus Finalist / ACT Responsible Tribute 2020 Winner, Webstock Awards Bronze Integrated Campaigns;
– The Unquiet Voices campaign launched together with the ANAIS Association. A campaign awarded with: D&AD Wood Pencil Non-Fiction Film Over 30 Minutes / Webby’s Finalist Public Service & Activism / One Show Finalist Innovation in Film and three Cresta Awards (two Silver and one Bronze);
– The See Beyond the ICU campaign for Hospice Casa Speranței. A campaign awarded with the Busan AdStars Finalist Healthcare 2020.
Cheil | Centrade was also represented in high level juries of international advertising festivals this year:
– Mihai Gongu, ECD, juror in the Global Top Six of the Week at the Best Ads On TV; juror in the Film & Radio category at the Art Directors Club of Europe; 2nd Round of Judging juror at the EFFIE Awards Europe;
– Roxana Niţă, Group Creative Director, the only Eastern European creative selected in the Cannes Lions See It Be It program, 2020 – 2021;
– Gabriela Nanu, Business Director, the only juror from Romania at the Grand Jury EFFIE Awards Europe;
– Victor Trifan, Art Director, juror at the AdForum PHNX Awards.