Ines Kalinić: Everything was way more static before

Ines leads some of the most demanding projcets and clients in McCann Zagreb, she’s the spiritus movens at agency parties and a conscience to colleagues with a liberal position on deadlines. She spoke about the challenges and her vision of the agency's future for MediaMarketing.

Ines Kalinić graduated Marketing at the Faculty of Economics and Business in Zagreb. After the studies, she joined the Fahrenheitagency and realized that theory has nothing to do with practice. A few years later, she moved to McCann Zagreb, where she currently leads some of the most demanding projects and clients. She is the spiritus movens of the agency parties and a voice of conscience to colleagues with liberal attitude towards deadlines.

MM: You are in the communications industry because you love this job or simply because you must do something?

Ines Kalinić: If the answer was that I simple must do something, then I would certainly not be where I am today. I think there are much simpler jobs if you work just for the sake of having a job. This is my current choice and I stick by it because it suits me. When my gut feeling will tell me that this is not the place for me anymore, I’ll move on. For now, that realization that it’s Monday and that I have to go to the office, still doesn’t bother me.

MM: What attracted you the most to this field, and what were your beginnings like?

Ines Kalinić: It started the same way as for the majority of people – I was not sure which course to choose in college, so I used the elimination method. Marketing studies seemed more interesting than finances, accounting or tourism. I opted for these studies to learn the theoretical basis. Near the end of my studies, I got the opportunity for an internship in an agency. Only then did I realize that theory has nothing to do with practice. Six experienced colleagues accepted the young and aspiring graduate student well and showed her how much this job can be fun and different from what I had imagined jobs look like (mom and dad work in IT). Currently, I see no other industry that could attract me so much that I would turn my back on advertising and take a different path. Unless I am invited to manage our national football team or some NBA club. In such case, I would say “thank you and goodbye” to advertising.

MM: What is the most exciting part of the job for you?

Ines Kalinić: The most exciting part of the job is the morning – because you never know what kind of e-mail and deadlines you’ll get whilst drinking your morning coffee and thinking about what to order for lunch. On a more serious note, the most exciting thing is that with every new client you discover an unknown industry, new ways of communication and methods to which the target group responds.

On the other hand, with an “old” client, you are trying to create a new, never-before-seen story every day, meet all deadlines and ultimately get good feedback from the other side. Although, I would point out that, according to my experience, there is no other side. Our clients and we sit in different offices, we write from different e-mail addresses, but, realistically, we are on the same side, and the satisfaction with a campaign as well as good business results are our common goal. “Power of the People” is McCann’s slogan and a very important thing which I have to point out as the best part of the agency work, at least in our small community. We quarrel at least three times a day, but we also embrace each other at least a dozen. This is a collective where everyone has each other’s back, and in which the willingness to help a colleague in need is unquestionable. As far as I’ve heard, this isn’t the case in many working environments.

MM: The entire world is in a great crisis today. People say creative ideas can help solve many problems. What is your opinion on this?

Ines Kalinić: I think it will take more than just creative ideas to solve the crisis, but they definitely can help. Creativity encourages thinking outside some laws of logic, so it certainly influences the finding of solutions which are not “impulsive” and can bring about changes that we might not have been prepared for at all. Also, the crisis itself can encourage greater creativity as it creates new conditions on the market, placing before the creatives challenges such as they never faced before, and which they need to tackle.

MM: What should the young leaders learn and adopt from their senior colleagues?

Ines Kalinić: Senior colleagues have the experience which brings peace and awareness that, eventually, everything will be solved. Colleagues who have been in the industry for a long time have had much more experience with unreasonable demands or deadlines than myself. Their reaction is much lighter and calmer than mine, because they know that everything will, eventually, be done. We, the younger, wish to do everything right away and find it hard to reconcile with the fact that some things take a bit more time. However, as the years go by, I find myself starting to gradually accept this more “laid-back” model.

MM: And what should they definitely discard from this legacy?

Ines Kalinić: I would say that reluctance to change might be the main trait of the “older generation”. Everything was far more “static” in the past than it is today. There was no need for so much adaptation, either to technology or to the new forms of communication. Today, “dynamism” is a trait which all employers cite as a requirement in job announcements, and it is implied. Although, I have to admit, this is still a generalization, and I can learn a lot from my older colleagues.

MM: When we talk about crazy, brave ideas, there is a general opinion that the communication industry is gripped with fear. Agencies are afraid of losing a client, the client is afraid of losing his/her job. How can we conquer that fear, and how much can you, the young leaders, contribute to getting the industry out of this situation?

Ines Kalinić: I am very much aware of the fear existing on both sides. I would even say that the clients are a bit more frightened than us. For us, it’s not such a big problem to suggest a “crazy” idea, but it is a big problem for them to approve it. You always have to weigh how bold you can be without offending someone. Still, I hope that clients will “open their eyes” and see that it is more important to have a brand which will trigger a reaction, make a change, and not just one which will be nothing more than just OK to everyone. Young people can help them by bringing new knowledge and new technologies, which are much closer to them than to the older colleagues or clients. If a client sees the advantages of a new medium / mode of communication, and decides to trust the agency, they might give a green light to a good and crazy idea next time. McCann has piles of such ideas in the drawers. If someone is interested and wants to be brave, they just need to call us.

MM: What would you advise your peers – to join you in this industry, or try to find a better job?

Ines Kalinić: I don’t think this is the most perfect job in the world – not even in Zagreb. But I do believe it has its charm, one that other jobs don’t. For example, as an account, I don’t just deal with my work in terms of customer relations, filling briefs, billing, and taking care of deadlines. You work with a strategic planner on creating strategies. That involves a lot of psychology. With creative directors and copywriters, you push all the limits of what you believe is rational and what you could imagine to be feasible, because they regularly convince you that absolutely everything is possible. Through cooperation with designers, you learn how all those things seen in print, online or on billboards are made. And then there’s the production, which is in fact something very special, because there you become a part of filming of a small movie. These movies might be just 32 seconds long in most cases, but that still counts, right?

If the above sounds even remotely interesting to someone, I would recommend him/her to try. If it doesn’t, they should go for construction or medic.

MM: What do you consider to be the most valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout the years you’ve been living the agency life?

Ines Kalinić: That the lyrics of the song “Kad se male ruke slože” is the only real truth.

MM: How do you see the future of advertising?

Ines Kalinić: In one of your articles you wrote “Constructive, accurate and efficient data, accompanied by boundless creative ideas, are the foundation of the future of the marketing industry”, so I will believe you. Jokes aside, I think the future of the industry is unpredictable, however, it is definitely going towards personalization and more precise approach to the target group. Mass messages will no longer work because every consumer wants you to woo exactly him or her, not his or her friends and relatives. If you don’t succeed in that, they’ll look elsewhere – it’s that simple.

MM: And what are your personal and professional ambitions? Where do you see yourself in the future?

Ines Kalinić: My professional ambitions are definitely based on my growth and development as an employee of McCann. Growth should be gradual, but also constant, because only then this job makes sense. Standing in one place and the feeling that you don’t have a purpose don’t bode well, and that’s a sign that change is in order. As for the personal ambitions, which are more important for me, they include growth and development of me as a partner, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter and a friend. Recently my friends told me that I spend too much time looking towards and expecting that future. So, I will listen to them, and I will say that the present I live in is exactly the one that suits me right now, and I’m waiting for the future and looking forward to it with peace in my heart.

MM: How much free time do you have, and how do you like to spend it?

Ines Kalinić: I wouldn’t mind having a four-day working week, but I still make good use of the time I have. I trained basketball for 12 years, so the daily training routine taught me how to organize my time well. Nature is my biggest remedy, so I usually spend the weekends in the mountains. My dad instilled that love in me, although I didn’t quite understand it when I was younger, so I regularly protested the trips (especially when the second option was to spend the afternoon on the school playground while the boys from class B played football).

Today, when we have work on our minds even after working hours, the hiking trail during the year, and seaside during the summer, represent the setting in which I find peace. The main characters in that story are the people close to me, and the retriever Pabla (if she could speak, she would probably tell me she would be offended had I not mentioned her).

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