Vedran Vereš: Brands that want to be leaders must be relevant within the culture in which they operate

If you don't know what 'infinity planning' and 'cultural velocity' are, read the interview Media Marketing did with Vedran Vereš, Managing Director of the media agency Initiative Zagreb.


Initiative Zagreb is a media agency, a member of IPG MediaBands, a media operation of the global IPG Network. It operates in 80 markets, has over 3,200 employees and around $16 billion in media traffic. Carlsberg and Lego are two important clients that the Initiative has won globally in 2017 and started working on in 2018.

The Zagreb Initiative exists since 2016 and represents the Initiative in the Croatian market. What makes this agency different from others is a more pronounced focus on brands and their communication in the context of culture. Brands who want to be leaders must be relevant within the culture in which they work, since advertising is becoming increasingly easier to avoid.

About the agency Initiative, its specific strategic processes of digitization and trends in media planning, we talked with Vedran Vereš, its Managing Director.

MM: What is infinity planning, and how would you pitch the idea to potential clients that might be reading this interview?

Vereš: Infinity planning is the strategic process we use in the Initiative to develop a connected and optimized communication ecosystem. Tools, research and data are an important part of this process, but they are never a substitute for it. Through the infinity planning process we create media strategies that bring tangible business results to our clients.

MM: How much has digitization influenced the strengthening of philosophies, or rather strategies, such as infinity planning, cultural velocity and so on?

Vereš: Digitalization has certainly further reinforced our conviction that infinity planning and cultural velocity are the right approach to the communication needs of the clients. On the one hand, new technologies enable consumers to avoid advertising more easily, but on the other hand, they make it easier for brands to initiate two-way communication and become an important part of the culture.

MM: What would be the No. 1 trend among media agencies in Croatia and the region at this point, and what would that trend be on the global level?

Vereš: Strengthening of integrations and synergy of agencies from different marketing disciplines is both a global and regional trend. I would no longer say that focus on digital services is a trend. It’s more an element without which a modern media agency can no longer satisfy the needs of clients.

MM: What part of the expertise do clients most appreciate among media agencies, and what are the areas in which (some) agencies still lag behind?

Vereš: Clients appreciate when they have a partner agency that cares about their interests and who, together with them, devise how to help grow and develop their brands. Clients also appreciate when an agency can explain in simple language why the proposed media strategy is efficient and how it will enable fulfillment of their business goals.

A key part of the agency’s expertise is the availability of relevant data and analysis and interpretation of these data and then their transformation into information that serves to improve clients’ communication. And this is definitely an area where agencies vary widely between one another.

MM: How do you respond to these tasks at the Initiative?

Vereš: We insist on a transparent, partner relationship with our clients. The culture of Initiative is set up so that direct and clear communication within the team and towards the client is a condition without which no one can stay long in our system.

A team composed of motivated, responsible and creative employees who are experts in their areas who enjoy working on joint projects and who have relevant research that they can interpret in order to increase the competitive edge of the clients – that is the greatest power of the Initiative.

MM: How do you collect data about the audiences in the local market? What kind of dynamics or the type of research do you use?

Vereš: We make significant investments in research, since they are the foundation on which we develop media strategies for our clients. Without the insight into the desires, needs and habits of consumers, their consumption of media and tools that enable us to synthesize and deeply interpret these data, all proposals remain at the level of “personal opinion”. Our goal is to respond to the communication needs of clients with a process that has a scientific background, and for that we need research and tools.

That is why we invest in all relevant media research on the Croatian market and research of target groups. But what gives us a competitive advantage and what differentiates us in the market are the global tools of the Initiative which we “fill” with the data collected on the local market. Each network agency has global tools, but if the data is not local, the results that these tools will show may not be relevant to the local market.

MM: You’ve been in the business for almost 15 years. What are your personal goals in the coming years, and what are your goals within the Initiative?

Vereš: My personal goals for this year are to learn to (better) play Go, go through a Sommelier course, read more books than last year and spend as much quality time with my spouse and sons.

Our goal is also to make the Initiative a recognizable agency on the Croatian market by adopting a unique approach and position it as an agency that is synonymous with the high level of customer satisfaction with the media service.

The original publication can be found at: