JELENA IVANOVIĆ, Executive Director of IAA Serbia: WE ARE TRYING TO REPRESENT OUR PROFESSION WELL

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As a tripartite organization, the Association is trying to equally present the interests of all marketing communications disciplines – advertisers, agencies and media companies

Through endeavours like AcademIAA and Effie Festival, the Associations is validating its existence and sends out a message that it is capable of implementing large-scale projects that are important for our branch. We are talking to the Executive Director of the Serbian chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA Serbia), Jelena Ivanović about the Association’s operations and current events in the marketing profession both in Serbia and the region.

During its 25 years of operations, how did IAA Serbia contribute to formation of a uniformed voice of the marketing profession?

As a tripartite organization that assembles representatives of advertisers, agencies and media, we have been striving all the time to work on issues that all stakeholders should reach a consensus on. That hasn’t been always easy, but we came up to the point where I can freely say that the IAA is a true representative of our profession. Unlike associations that assemble representatives of only one segment and which easier articulate their needs

and interests, the IAA really represents a type of forum in which all the most important issues for us are debated. Also, the IAA has launched an educational programme for young people, and organizes the Effie Festival which is equally important for everybody involved in marketing communications. As a member of the relevant task force, we have also participating in drafting of the new Advertising Law. We are trying to involve our members as much as possible in resolving various issues and launching initiatives that are of interest to them. In the past, I believe that we have been playing our role of an organization that is consistently implementing international standards.

Which are of the latest IAA’s endeavours are the most successful and most ambitious?

This and the last year have been exceptionally successful for IAA Serbia. Last year, we launched the AcademIAA educational programme for young people, and, this year, we organized the Effie Festival. These two are huge endeavours and our strategic goals that we have been working for years on. Essentially, the both projects contribute to advancing the market and our profession, each in their own unique way. Via these endeavours, our Association validates its existence and sends a message that it is capable of implementing

large-scale projects that are important for our branch.

What joint problems do the industries in the region that you assemble share? How can you provide a joint response to these problems as a professional association?

In the last few years, I have been given an opportunity to talk a lot to the representatives of other associations, both in our country, in the region and wider. To paraphrase… All successful associations resemble each other, and every unsuccessful one has its own reason why is it unsuccessful. Still, the exchange of information with other

associations in the region is priceless. The similar social and economic framework, economy, and cultural heritage all facilitate communication among us and make us feel less lonely in dealing with the challenges that we are trying to resolve. Everybody is good orless good at something. The issue of market regulation is something that we regularly discuss at our meetings, as well as in direct communication that we have between the meetings where we exchange experiences, share best practice cases, and try to have a joint approach to many issues. Our profession’s reputation is also an issue that consumes us all.

How satisfied are you with the legislative and self-regulating framework that regulates relations in this market segment, and what are your expectations from the

new media strategy?

  • The question of satisfaction is of lesser importance here, to be honest. I believe that it is important that we are truly active in creating regulatory framework that we need for the job that we do. In the last few years, the IAA has initiated and participated in many processes much more than in the past. That might be insufficient still or in the volume that we think it should be, but it opens up space for us and provides opportunities. The most difficult thing is not to participate at all, and not being a part of these processes. Thankfully, we are out of that phase. We have invested a lot of effort into writing the Marketing Communications Code, and I believe that the time is near when the Code will be implemented with the help of the bodies that will regulate its implementation. Everything and anything that can contribute to a better regulation of this segment is welcome, whether we are talking about an EU standard or the local initiative.

How many members do you have today, and what position do Young Professionals occupy in your structure?

Today, IAA Serbia has 98 full-fledged members and 90 Young Professionals. Recently, I

have participated in IAA Europe meeting in Amsterdam which gathered the representatives

of all national IAA chapters. The Serbian chapter is definitely one of the biggest and most active in Europe. If we consider the size of our country and our market, the IAA really does have a good reason to be more than happy. The Young Professionals section was formed less than six years ago, and two of our members – Đorđe Janković and Ljubica Vukčević – have already been awarded with an international IAA Inspire Young Leader Award. Seniors have been cooperating with juniors on many projects which is yet another proof of their mature approach to the Association and their branch in general.

The first generation of the AcademIAA students officially completed the three—month-long education in marketing communications in December last year. What are your further plans in this training segment?

  • First and foremost, the AcademIAA is a nice, big and challenging project that we have implemented this year for the second consecutive time. The Association has an obligation to invest in young people, to offer them the know-how that our members possess, and enable their training and learning. After investing its resources in the younger generation, the Association has every right to expect from them to become the stakeholders in our branch and promote the IAA values. This is the only just, long-term investment in the business that we do. This year, AcademIAA started on 15th September and will last until 15th December. The list of lecturers is long and comprises of experts that have a lot to give to the students. This year’s module coordinators were exceptionally professional and dedicated in their approach to this task, while the students have invested a lot of effort and knowledge in passing the selection process and being assigned one of the 30 places. Improving the candidate selection was our main task in terms of this year’s programme because we think that the best lecturers deserve the best students. Also, their case studies this year will be conceived in a way that they clearly show the individual qualities of each student. This will help us with picking the best student and the best lecturer in December.

For the first time ever, the Effie Awards Festival took place in Serbia this year. What practical importance does this hold for us?

  • Effie Awards is an international festival which is why it was only logical for the IAA, as an international organization, to introduce it to this market. This was a rather complex and long process, primarily due to exceptionally complicated and clearly devised standards that we had to implement. Effie entails measuring effectiveness of marketing communications, and thus it differes from other festivals which is why its importance is indisputable for everyone in our branch. The first year is definitely the most difficult one, but we – both IAA Serbia and Effie Worldwide – are satisfied with the way in which the festival was organized. The whole process lasted eight months. There were 13 members of the Organizational Board, 28 jury members, 44 submitted works, 8 awards and over 150 guests at the gala. This year, nobody received the Gold Effie Award because none of the submitted works were up to the standards for this award. We expect next year that everybody will strive towards getting the Gold Effie, and that, thanks to the accumulated experience and knowhow, there will be someone who will be worthy of Gold Effie.

How much should your industry contribute to economic development, and what can be done towards this goal?

  • There is no doubt any longer that marketing branch contributes both to the economy and GDP, but the fact is that this is not mentioned much which is partially our blame too. The statistical dana that I am aware of and which dates back to five years ago shows that the marketing branch has a 4,6% share in the Serbian GDP, while the EU average is around 7%. In terms of export, this segment recorded a huge growth in the last five years. The branch’s contribution to creation of new jobs is also very imporant, and our industry occupies the very top position when it comes to this aspect. We definitely have a lot of examples of created communications that have built strong and serious domestic brands and that is almost never the topic to be promoted in the public. The negative aspects are always talked more about, but they are not dominant in our branch. There are so many successful people among the IAA members and in our branch in general, that we don’t get our fifteen minutes of fame, so to speak, amidst all the bad news and bad practice cases. Creative industry cannot be isolated from the rest of the society and economy, but it can certainly make its existence much easier and, in that way, boost its quality so that we are able to say – we did everything we could, it’s everybody else’s turn now.

The Code: THE TIME IS NEAR

We have invested a lot of effort into writing the Marketing Communications Code, and I believe that the time is near when the Code will be implemented with the help of the bodies that will regulate its implementation.

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