The Bucharest office of MullenLowe Profero is the first one that the company opened in Central Eastern Europe. BR took advantage of Dale Gall’s visit in Romania and asked him about the agency’s plans on the local market, business opportunities, creativity and digital trends. He is the agency’s CEO for the EMEA region.
By Romanita Oprea
What are you main goals and hopes for the Romanian office?
The main goal for the Romanian office is to become a strong and successful part of the Profero global network, being a gateway into the CEE region and an important pillar for the group’s further expansion. Being part of an international network offers the advantage of having access to know-how and innovative tools for local campaigns. On the other hand, the amount of talent the Romanian office has will definitely enhance and add value to the work delivered to our global clients. This will represent an important benefit for our current and future clients at the same time.
How did you find it on your visit? What do you like and what do you intend to change?
Romania has a very strong educational system, thus amazing knowledge in various domains, with very good language skills, as well as coding and text skills; generally a high expertise level.
The Romanian office starts off with a strong set of abilities, necessary to develop qualitative projects for local and global clients of Profero. This gives us access to a set of digital and technical talent, being a great business opportunity. Every asset, of every office in our network, comes together, as agencies around the world have the possibility to exchange knowledge and expertise. This makes it easier to address the client’s needs and create amazing campaigns that benefit from talent and skills gathered from within our network.
What were the main reasons of your visit?
To begin with, the Bucharest office is the first one we opened in Central Eastern Europe. This being said, we came to Romania to launch the new partnership. We chose the country for the talent we found here, the people and the fact that we believe Romania should become a hub for the entire region.
Secondly, this was a great opportunity to take the pulse of the market, of the people and to get to know everything more closely. You have a different understanding of how things will run if you experience them first-hand.
Where do you consider the Romanian advertising is (in terms of creativity and efficiency)?
I believe that the local Romanian educational system ultimately produces undeniable talent in terms of creativity, technology, design and social media. The knowledge level is considerably above average and we appreciate the openness and interest towards other cultures and new information. All of these, combined, leads to a certain value of the work delivered for clients and we have seen this being recognized as advertising products that are ‘made in Romania’ have either received important international awards and/or are renowned all through the industry. And I believe this also translates into efficiency.
In other words, the advertising market in Romania has many opportunities and will continue to develop because the potential definitely exists. Probably, the next step is for more and more companies to understand the benefits of advertising and use these services to further their brand and image. Thus, an increased and more complex demand will trigger an inherent growth of the market.
What about the digital sector? Where do you still see growth in this area (is it mobile, is it virtual reality, augmented reality)? Why?
The digital explosion that has taken over the world has left its mark in Romania as well. Online, mobile, everything related to the digital sector has known a very high adoption rate as people become more and more friendly to gadgets and technology in general. This, in its turn, has determined companies and brands to start to interact differently with consumers and to change the techniques and channels through which they approach them. Digital has become a part of everything we interact with and that has a strong impact on how we think and develop our campaigns, on how we can use the obtained data in our advantage.
Digital communication follows an accelerated growth, as what we now call ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ will soon become ‘traditional’. More to that, digital communication is now included alongside classic communication means in every successful and efficient strategy. I believe that the most important and used communication method, in Romania, nowadays, is online marketing, with mobile being the future.
How is the Bucharest office positioned in the Profero network from your perspective? How competitive are the Romanians comparing to their UK or other Western Europe network colleagues?
The three things we took into consideration when deciding upon Romania are the knowledge level of the people working here, culture of your country and of course, prices. We were impressed with the level of creativity and knowledge we found here. The fact that you have high IT knowledge and find it easy to learn and speak any foreign language is a very important aspect. Also, I appreciate the fact that you have understanding at a global level and a pretty good grip on what happens worldwide and translate that to the Romanian market.
Price-wise you are extremely competitive, as you are able to deliver very good quality work at some of the lowest prices available. Romania and Poland are the two most competitive countries in Europe, as the quality of their ideas is worldwide worth. There are actually many similarities between Romania and other Western countries and I believe each and every one of them has something unique to offer to its clients.
What is the campaign that you are most proud of? Why?
Even though it is difficult to just name one, as I have found excitement in every campaign I work on, one notable example, for me, would be what we created for Primark. This is specifically related to the actual scale of the challenge, as Primark is the biggest clothing retailer in UK, a brand which doesn’t do advertising.
The main objective was to create and launch the new Primark website, raising product awareness, engaging the customers and driving the traffic to stores, without actually having an online store. So we decided to replicate the fresh, energetic and busy feel of the stores in the online environment. This is how we launched Primania, a real-time look book, engaging the fans to upload photos and tag clothes and the nearest Primark store in their outfits. The results were also astonishing, as the site had over 4 million unique visitors in the first 3 months and the Facebook page had a 238% growth.
Is there still a client you never had in your career but you wish you did? If so, who is it?
Actually, this is something I personally never think about. I had the opportunity to work for many amazing clients and deliver a lot of great campaigns. This taught me that one should work and make the best of what they have at a given moment, because it helps you grow as a person and as a professional. And more to that, when something new comes along you just take it up as a challenge and, in the end, take each day one at a time. You never know what the future holds for you, it might be something outstanding.
What is the hardest decision you had to make in your current position and why?
A task I consider difficult would be maintaining that balance between having a clear vision each step of the way and not doubting any final decision and you. At the same time, you should have a clear plan for your team, coordinate and motivate them into believing in the company.
Can you provide an advice for the Romanian advertising industry?
The simplest advice would be to stay on track, as I strongly believe that advertising in Romania is on a very good path. However, there is even more room for growth which will probably happen in the near future. Even though the focus for people in advertising should be the client and its needs, nobody should shy away from being creative, thinking outside the box and outreaching their own limits.
Do you believe the agency’s future lays in the consolidation or the specialized agencies?
It is important to realize that both business models can have their specific advantages and disadvantages. We believe in a model that means having specialists that can stand on their own but also know how to stand and work together to deliver a great final product. Each of them is influenced by their own expertise and they only see the world through their lens, this giving the client only one part of the bigger picture. We believe in each individual, in each tentacle, actually, being strong in its own way, while still being connected to that one brain of the octopus, working together as a whole and giving a full perspective to the client. I fully believe that the Romanian office is perfectly prepared to deliver exactly that.
Do you have more plans of expansion in the near future?
We consider ourselves to be a very dynamic business and this is why we are in a continuous expansion. We just recently opened another office in San Francisco and we are looking to expanding our business America, with a focus on Central and South America. Further down the road we plan to strengthen our position in Asia. We will come back with news regarding all of this soon.
About Dale Gall
He has entered the Profero family in 2009 and from his position of CEO is supervising all the agency’s departments, from the Creative one to the Technology and Design ones. Under his lead, the agency added in its portfolio various clients such as Virgin Trains, Diageo, Primark and SEAT, in order to develop rewarded campaigns at an international level, such as the Grand Prix award received at Brand Republic Digital Awards for a Primark.com campaign.
Prior to being part of the Profero team, he has spent six years at VCCP, as Head of Planning and Managing Partner, coordinating campaigns for O2, governmental projects, ING direct or the cereals Jordans. Before that he was a Planning Director at J. Walter Thomposn and a Planner at WCRS. Among his clients we can mention Kelloggs, BMW, Landrover or the National Lotery. Before advertising, Gall has worked also as an anthropologist.