Call for Leaders | Costin Buta (WOPA): Hope is the only thing that keeps the economy running

Oana Vasiliu 24/07/2020 | 13:45

After running its course, the original Call for Leaders – 3Q was completed successfully, achieving its intended purpose of bringing a positive, insightful, or otherwise constructive view of the Romanian business scene in the context of the current crisis. Now, Business Review followed up with some of Romania’s top professionals and entrepreneurs for #Call4Leaders part II – Back in Business, to see how they mapped out the long-awaited return to normality.

 

Current conversation: Costin Buta, Managing Director WOPA

How do you define the new normal that everyone should submit to?

The new normal. Everybody uses this phrase trying to include or explain everything that causes changes in their behaviour or life since the covid-19 pandemic has started. There’s nothing new about the NEW normal, except maybe for the fact that it showed how irrationally and stupidly genuine we are in fact as humans. Perhaps that’s the biggest shock.

If I were to speak by myself, I would say that we are experiencing the first phase of the new normal which is accompanied with a lot of “social romanticism” and hope. In my opinion hope is the only thing that keeps the economy running.

We don’t know how this pandemic will end because this virus caused a hiccup in the rather smooth path of evolution. But what I feel certain about is that the new normal will be our ability to shape the environment and surroundings to suit us and to help us leave panic mode and start learning to live with the disease.

 

Has this crisis altered your optimism or hopes for your business plans in this calendar year?

In the last 100 plus days since the lockdown we went through different states. From monstrous tragedy to whopping realism and now to modest optimism. But, in the path of fear we didn’t panic because we were mentally prepared for a new crisis. We started preparing our business for a crisis since 2018 because our ambition was and still is to become the largest independent Romanian agency with a regional presence. To do that we accelerate our growth, started changing client portfolio, developing new in-house areas of expertise and recruiting even more greater talent.

 

What’s next for the industry you are currently representing?

Covid-19 is changing consumer behaviour and, by extension, advertising, so I don’t think there has ever been a better time to reinvent and grow our business.  Although the misconception of “bigger is better” still prevails, it’s time for the Bullshit Eradication Era to start. Good thing that we relaunched our agency brand cutting any traces of empty promises to clients with our #nobullshitagency slogan.

Integration is the second in line, because we see that most of the big agencies do not have their operations as integrated as they should be. They are experiencing accelerated business and technological transformation and, while they have the resources for such a transformation, the integration is really hard to accomplish. And this leaves room for agile and dynamic agencies, super flexible and with the right people – the third factor for success. I think that now, more than ever, we should focus on people with the right attitude rather than skills.

But before all that, I think is a good time to reflect on the origin of us (us ad makers, us as professionals, us as communication thinkers, us as humans) to start the journey towards that solid, transparent, no bullshit agency – client partnership aiming the same objectives: to achieve true, real brand performance that leads to tangible business results. To do that, maybe the whole industry should rethink classic fee per hour or project calculation and split it between fix and variable fees of a shared profit based on results.

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