The last two years have been one of the most challenging ones in recent history, with companies having to adapt and be very resilient and strong in order to survive a never-before-seen situation. With no means to compare it to anything else. Still, 2021 proved to be good for the Romanian marcomm industry, especially for those companies that knew how to drive the trends and be flexible.
By Romanita Oprea
BR talked with Vlad Petre, managing director at Saatchi & Saatchi + The Geeks about how 2021 was for the agency, the challenges, creativity, trends and many more subjects ready for you to discover.
How would you describe the year 2021 for Saatchi & Saatchi + The Geeks?
The best year in the history of our agency. We have kept the accelerated pace of growth in recent years and now I can say that we have most likely reached somewhere in the middle of the top 10 full-service creative agencies in Romania. The team has reached 45 great people and continues to grow at an accelerated pace, the business has grown by 35% versus 2020, and when it comes to clients, I’m proud not only that we haven’t lost any, but also that we managed to complete the list with all the ones we wanted and pitched for.
What were the most difficult aspects in 2021? What about the best ones?
The most difficult part was definitely growing the team, as we couldn’t be in the office with the new colleagues. The best things that have happened are all the pitches won, all the campaigns launched and all the great reviews received from clients.
What are the things you are most proud of?
By far, I am most proud of the team. My colleagues do a fabulous job and all the success described above is entirely thanks to them. I’m equally proud of the very good reviews we get from our clients, the over 90% success rate in pitches and the quality of work we do that increases from one pitch to the next and from one campaign to the next.
How much time do you believe we will see the impact of the pandemic on the marcomm industry in Romania?
I believe things have changed from one year to the next during this period. Most likely, this will be the year we put the pandemic behind us. That doesn’t mean it won’t leave a mark forever. The quickest thing that comes to mind is this hybrid work model that we have in place and that is a good thing for us.
How do you see the local advertising right now?
The way I’ve always seen it: as the most beautiful field you can work in. I don’t agree with the opinions and criticisms regarding the new generation of advertisers, the clients, or the quality of advertising. I think there are at least as good and talented people as the older generations were. They are different, that’s true, but if they are understood and valued, they do great things. The same when it comes to clients. The level has risen a lot and I see how much we learn from them. Every new client we’ve started working for in the last few years has taught us a lot of things and made us better. As for the quality of Romanian advertising, I still see a lot of campaigns that make me envious and that I wish we had done.
In what type of pitches do you want to be invited in 2022 and why?
I said above that we have a very high success rate in pitches and this is due to the rigorous selection we do. There are many criteria, but if I were to list a few of them, they would be: long term scope (no pitching for one-off projects), the size of the list of participating agencies and the level of transparency about it, the chemistry we have in the debrief meeting with the client team.
What do you believe to be the main trends for this year and why?
Client’s need for certainty. This translates in two ways. Through the need for reliable, one-stop-shop partners to cover all their communication needs. They want to know that things can be solved, they want to know that they have a solid and competent team at their disposal that can solve their problems efficiently. But, also, through communication that is relevant to their target audiences. That means communication based on relevant data. Without data, “you’re just a man with an opinion” and we’re not like that. That’s why we launched the Data Intelligence Center with the help of our colleagues in the group, so that every one of our clients has customized data and research solutions just a click away.
Name 2 myths that still hang around in the industry and they shouldn’t.
I’ll mention just one, because I believe it is essential for the future. It is the myth that says juniors entering the industry are very poorly prepared. Not true at all, they are at least as good as they used to be, just different from what we were. The challenge is for us to learn how to help them develop properly.
What is your goal for 2022 in terms of revenue, but also new clients, employees, etc?
For 2022 we aim to maintain the growth rate of 2021 on all the lines mentioned. But more important is what we wish for the coming years. Namely, to become one of the top 3 agencies in Romania, to do work that inspires our colleagues and to raise new generations of advertisers who will look back proudly because they were part of the Saatchi & Saatchi + The Geeks story. I hope we succeed.
What is the local industry still lacking and what can be changed?
I think we need to get rid of this tendency to criticize, to say first what is wrong, what we don’t like, to notice the mistake before we see something good in what is around us. I think we should be prouder of this industry we work in. In the end, we all put our shoulder to the wheel and I think we did a pretty good job.
How do you think the creative sector in Romania will be in 2022 and what do you think will happen in the future?
I think it will be exactly as it is now. It will produce things that will surprise us, cheer us up, inspire us, or sometimes sadden us. But it will certainly make its presence felt around us.
You once said that more and more clients will centralize their ATL and Digital services at one supplier – their communication agency partner. Do you still believe that to be true?
The answer without hesitation is YES. All of our clients do this, and we, as a result of Saatchi & Saatchi and The Geeks collaboration, are formed that way: full-service communication agency partner.
How would you describe yourself as an advertising professional and manager?
I’m in love with advertising like the first day. I’m very happy to work in this field and try to enjoy the diversity of projects every day. And as a manager, I firmly believe that the strongest asset of the agency I run is the people in the team. I just try to create the right environment for them to thrive and perform.