A pioneer of the Romanian advertising industry, Radu Florescu, the CEO of South-East Europe Centrade | Cheil, talked with Business Review about the agency’s presence in Romania, the state of the local advertising industry and the international context.
By Romanita Oprea
How was 2017 for the agency in terms of turnover /revenue?
Turnover this year was slightly higher than budgeted expectations, as our industry and our agency largely mirrored Romania’s economic growth. We anticipate additional increased revenue for 2018.
What were the departments that were most successful? What about the least successful ones?
The engine of growth is still very much centered on digital. While it is difficult to put a precise figure on digital revenue as most integrated campaign are comprised of offline and online, the trend is very clear. Retail is another area of significant growth and Centrade | Cheil has focused considerable resources on the customer interaction through the consumer journey – an area that seems to be growing well and has seen relatively high demand. The traditional areas of print and TV production are somewhat stagnant, however, we still have seen increased production for campaigns outside of Romania due to the high value of Romanian production compared to other production destinations.
What about the pitches you attended?
Pitches were both for new clients and existing clients. Many of the pitches won were for existing clients that are seeking to expand into new areas (especially digital). The focus on data marketing and content creation is something that is getting more and more attention as well.
How would you characterize the local advertising industry in 2018 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity, etc?
2018 could be viewed as a stable, steady market. The growth as mentioned earlier reflects the general market trend. The underlining theme remains – many agencies are aware of the growing demand for a new approach to their marketing needs and shift from the traditional agency model to one that caters to the new digital, result measured impact using effective content for today’s ad world. The biggest challenge is balancing Romania’s market (which is arguably not the US or UK) and embracing the new thinking in a balanced, business common sense strategy. The basic question is “when do I pull the trigger?”
What were the campaigns done by the other agencies in Romania that you admired and why?
Honestly, I can’t comment on any of the campaigns on TV – simply do not watch TV and certainly not the ad breaks (I know that my colleagues will hate me for this). For me the Grolsch Awake experiment digital campaign stands out in terms of creativity and technology which is exactly where this market is heading.
What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2017 and how did they come to happen?
Our focus on data driven marketing was the main highlight in 2017. When there is so much data that is being compiled (or has been compiled) and that no one is using or do not know how to use it, that is where we have found a significant niche. Our vision has shifted to a management consulting support (with the necessary resources to back that up) with a focus on measurable results.
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 been focusing more on the international trends and applying Cheil European strategy – much based on the points discussed earlier.
What do you forecast for 2018 from this point of view?
Competition will become more fierce and the players will expand beyond the likes of WPP or Publicis group agencies. They will include PWC, Deloitte, Accenture and others who are now vying for a piece of the marketing business. We will be forced to become more strategic in our approach The name of the game will be less about the product differentiation and will be more about strategy differentiation.
What is your goal for 2018 in terms of revenue, but also new clients, employees, etc?
We have a very ambitious plan for 2018. There continues to be increased work from existing clients and a significant amount of digital work from outside Romania to the agency. Over the past two years, we have built a very solid, nimble, creative, digitally focused team and the results speak for themselves. We are applying not only a creative-technological solution for our clients. We are advising them on business solutions to their everyday challenges. It is an added plus and helps the agency shift to more business/marketing consultancy rather than just making ads.
What do you wish for the local industry this year?
Lots of luck.
How do you see the Romanian market connected to the international one at this moment?
There still is a disconnect at many levels to what we are doing locally and what is taking place abroad. Many of the platforms and tech that I mentioned are always changing and evolving. A good case in point is Facebook. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many users feel betrayed and are looking for alternatives. Who will take advantage and how is a question that I cannot answer, however, with or without Cambridge Analytica, there will be continued movement, buyouts and change. Romania has done a pretty good job at offering development services, great creative ideas, etc which has attracted business from abroad. With talent moving away and becoming more scarce, wages are slowly increasing to a point where outsourcing jobs to Romania will no longer be an attractive business option. Already, I have seen via our office in Serbia a big pick up in interest for digital/creative talent.
Where is the local industry still lacking and what can it be changed?
The main shortcoming is the lack of integration between marketing and sales. This is a bottleneck that inhibits innovation, stymies initiatives and just bucks common sense. The lack of courage of making meaningful changes for the above and not only is still also an area for improvement.