Jelena Ivanović, Director of IAA Serbian Chapter: The Industry Is Changing

Circumstances change, work conditions are more or less favourable for us, trends come from the world, but it seems that the needs of our industry remain, more or less, the same

Professional association IAA Serbian Chapter is committed to promoting the freedom of commercial communication while respecting the ethical standards of the profession. The Association represents the interests of all marketing communications disciplines – advertisers, agencies and media companies. In addition to promoting freedom of advertising and promoting the professional approach and advertising culture, the IAA is an important factor in defining legal and self-regulatory acts. Since the Serbian branch is part of the international network of the International Advertising Association, being a member of it implies sharing knowledge, experiences and the so-called good practices. The IAA Serbian Branch today has 100 members.

Is successful business possible without quality communication today?
— Good communication is one of the prerequisites for success and change in all forms of business. You also need to understand what the effects of communication are in the broadest sense. The IAA launched a global campaign several years ago that highlighted all the important benefits of communication and also somehow sublimated the essence of the effects of our business. “Advertising. Your Right to Choose ”was the main message of the worldwide IAA campaign. The campaign highlighted the consumer’s right to choose and then pointed to the fact that advertising creates and encourages competition, fosters product innovation and creates jobs. These were some of the campaign messages: “When advertising does its job, millions of people remain employed“, „Advertising drives the market and shows us everything available us“, „Without advertising, our choices would be much narrower and the number of jobs much lower”, „It takes a lot of money to find out what’s going on in the world. Without advertising, we would pay a lot more for news, and we would know a lot less”, “It’s not easy to choose when you have thousands of similar products before you. Advertising sheds light on some of them, helping us to find what is best for us in that multitude”, „Advertising wets our appetite for trying something new“, „Without advertising, we would not know what’s brighter, bigger or better“, „Advertising encourages manufacturers to innovate, and creates a whole range of new opportunities for us”, „Without sponsors, concerts would produce only silence. Your favourite musicians and artists can’t do without sponsors“, „Advertising ensures a lower cost of entertainment while increasing your chances of enjoying it.

The fourth AcademIAA, the IAA Serbia educational programme, has recently opened. We can see that the industry is changing rapidly. How crucial is an education in that case?

— The industry is changing and we, as a professional association, try to take that into account in our activities. Education is one of the pillars of the IAA. When it comes to AcademIAA, we set a goal, four years ago, to constantly change and not allow ourselves any kind of stagnation. In terms of the programme, its foundation has remained more or less the same; the only thing that is changing are the trainees, the organizational team and the people who run the modules. We strive to give the coordinators, whom we select together with last year’s coordinators, as much freedom in designing the programme as possible, whilst relying on their experience, professional reputation, as well as the needs of the market that they have noticed. Our goal for AcademIAA is to remain a kind of forum, with current and future experts involved, who are dealing with the issues relevant to the industry and its future, as well as to be a place for recruiting future leaders in the industry. One should not forget that the new know-how comes largely from younger generations, so we learn from our students as well.

What have been the effects of the IAA Academy’s activities so far? What kind of feedback did you get from the trainees?

— As you know, AcademIAA is a fairly demanding programme and involves the careful selection of students. Our Organizing Committee, as well as coordinators, participate in this process. Candidates go through two rounds of selection and no more than 35 people can attend the programme, although many more apply each year. So far, the certificate for the completed programme has been awarded to over 80 trainees for the previous three years. That may not seem like a big number, but I think that’s exactly why AcademIAA has a good reputation. The certificate needs to be earned and given to those trainees who have proven themselves to be the most diligent and the most talented, as well as those identified by the IAA as future leaders. Interestingly, the largest number of new applicants are referred to this program by their colleagues who have graduated from AcademIAA. For us, this is proof that we meet the expectations of our students and that they leave the AcademIAA with substantial practical knowledge in various fields, but also with new friends, business contacts and the like. I am always pleased when I hear that one of our former students took their career to a new level, accomplished an important business venture or did something that no one else had done. And this is not uncommon among our graduates.

In an interview, you said that it is imperative for you, as a professional association, to respond to the needs of the membership, but also of the industry in general. What are the imperatives today and what problems does the industry face?
— Circumstances change, work conditions are more or less favourable for us, trends come from the world, but it seems that the needs of our industry remain, more or less, the same. People will always search for quality staff, quality projects, better working conditions and being acknowledged by a wider community.

The National Association for Ethical Standards in Advertising (NAESO) was established this year. Can you tell us more about that?

— With the formation of the National Association for Ethical Standards in Advertising (NAESO), Serbia has gained an important self-regulatory body that will work on promotion of ethical standards in advertising and marketing communications in partnership with all media market stakeholders, state institutions, professional associations and international organizations. NAESO was registered in April, and immediately after that, the Founding Assembly was held, at which 16 companies and representatives of several associations signed a letter of intent. NAESO members are entities which business activities are related to advertising, while non-profit, non-governmental organizations and associations can be associate members and partners.In the meantime, the members of the Association’s Board of Di-rectors were appointed for the period of the next two years. The members of the MB are: Vanda Kučera, Vice President, I&F McCann Group (NAESO Board Chair); Milica Stefanović, Category and Brand Communications Director Europe, The Coca Cola Company (Vice Pres-ident of NAESO); Nebojša Babić, Managing Director, Orange Studio; Sonja Jelušić, Client Service Di-rector, Media House; Aleksandra Kosanović Strižak, Marketing and Communications Director, Erste Bank; Sandra Lazarević, Director of PR and Marketing Communications, Banca Intesa; Marija Matić, Data & Communications Director, Direct Media; Milica Popović, Corporate Communications Manager, Delhaize Serbia; Sanja Pešić, CEO, Alma Quattro; Žarko Sakan, CEO, New Moment New Ideas Company; and Nebojša Samardžić, Partner, Živković & Samardžić Law Firm. NAESO will accomplish its mission by providing expert advice and interpretation regarding the implementation of the Marketing Communications Code, reviewing complaints about advertisements and campaigns, engaging in ongoing educational activities, and cooperating with all organizations and associations interested or able to provide certain expertise. At this stage, everyone involved in marketing communications must recognize the benefits that self-regulation brings and support the development and operation of NAESO. Respect for and implementation of ethical standards in advertising will contribute to the improvement and development of the media market in Serbia and will generate benefits to all stakeholders – from advertisers, marketing agencies and media publishers to consumers. The Association’s operative plan focuses on becoming a member of the European Advertising Stand-ards Alliance (EASA).

IAA Serbia has published “The Media Pitch Guide”, which aims to further assist advertisers and media agencies in planning, organizing, implementing and participating in media pitches. Can you share some of the tips from the Guide with us?

The IAA has been invested a lot in the so-called self-regulation for years. We tried to present to the industry here everything that can contribute to the development of the profession, modelled on developed markets and international recommendations. As an association, we estimated that we have sufficient capacity to work on such initiatives. The IAA has published “The Media Pitch Guide,” which aims to further assist advertisers and media agencies in planning, organizing, implementing and participating in media pitches. This supplement for media pitches builds on the existing ‘IAA Guide to Pitches’, which is of a general nature, to provide more details and guidance on exclusively this segment. When it comes to its form, it is important to point out that this is a set of recommendations to optimize the process, i.e. establishing a relationship that entails mutual trust and fair play. The guide can be downloaded from

What has IAA Serbia been the proudest of in the last 27 years?

The IAA is one of the most respected professional associations in the country, with over 100 members. The projects we have worked on and are still working on are highly ranked by both the IAA Global and in our country. We have come to grips with the most demand-ing endeavours, such as introducing self-regulation, that is, writing the Marketing Communications Code, but also forming a self-regulatory body together with the USAID (IREX). Also, as of three years ago, IAA Serbia has been licensed to execute one of the most prestigious advertising competitions – Effie Awards. And of course, we were able to design and implement a serious educational programme like Ac-ademIAA. None of this would have come close to being so successful if our members did not recognize the importance and engaged in the activities of the Association to improve the industry together.

What does the future hold for IAA Serbia?

— It’s probably going to be an exciting one. We should never settle for less. I believe that many interesting projects are ahead of us and that the best is yet to come. We are going to prepare well for IAA Serbia’s 30th birthday.

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