Vesna Vlašić Jusupović: Brave are those who know what they want

In an interview for eKapija portal, Managing Director of McCann Sarajevo points out that "advertising requires that you are always curious, to absorb the world around you, with all the finesses, and to constantly question everything."

Proving she loves challenges and that she’s ready to dedicate herself to what she likes, she finished two high schools, and then successfully passed the "notorious entrance exam" for the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo at the Department of Product Design and simultaneously enrolled in General Literature at the Faculty of Philosophy. She remembers this first year of study as very busy.

- Although I managed to pass all the exams at the first year at both faculties, I realized that none was what I really wanted, so I returned to my first love - music. It took three or four months to prepare for the entrance exam which was very professional, and to me – who didn’t finish the Secondary Music School - half of it was completely unknown, but I managed to pass the entrance examination with excellent results and graduate from the Music Academy. Although I remember this period of my life as one of the most beautiful ones, I still missed something else. I loved to create, to read, to think about alternative solutions, new concepts for everything that surrounds me. Probably the reason why I'm in advertising now.

The path to advertising began by joining UNHCR, one of the largest and most developed UN agencies in BiH then.

- They were looking for someone who speaks English well and has a touch for art at our school system. My position was within the PR department, and then I got the chance to get in touch with this profession for the first time. Over time, with older colleagues who were always available for advice and help, I learned a lot.

After that, she enterd the world of marketing by working for several magazines, and her first contact with advertisement was at the position of Account Manager at Publicis at the time. Saatchi & Saatchi followed, then Lowe Idols & Friends and then came different positions and experiences that she gained working as an account, strategist, designer, and Client Service Director (CSD) before joining McCann in the same position.

 

 

- At McCann, I met with a very specific atmosphere and working culture, much different from what I was used to. On one hand, a perfectly functional international system, excellent coordination, an open field for the different possibilities that the creative industry brings, and on the other, the market of BiH, which is still young and inexperienced, from the position of our industry, and rather unregulated. Starting as a CSD, I quickly moved to the position of Managing Directors. I have this luck that a team of predominantly wonderful and honest people has come to me here, top professionals with a lot of experience.

Still, she says, everything was not perfect and it took a lot of work to form an agency and develop services that are now available for clients. She is proud that McCann is currently the only big creative agency on the BiH market.

- When I say creative, I think that aside from PR activities, we don’t deal with the media, that is, we do not do media lease. Our focus is on developing strategies and creative concepts that are further implemented through all communication channels, and we offer our customers full service with production services, digital support, PR, organization and implementation of events and promotion. In addition, our sister agency Universal Media offers complete services when it comes to media planning and lease.

In the recent years, McCann was the only agency from Bosnia and Herzegovina to achieve a notable success at the regional Balcannes creativity review, where in 2015 they entered the top five agencies in the region with the campaign "Ljubičanstveno" for Violeta brand, "Bubamara" for Coca-Cola. Last year the agency entered the top 25 regional projects with the campaign "Dyslexia is a Diversity, not a Disease", which they realized in collaboration with the Wind Association in order to spread awareness of the problems that dyslexic children encounter within BiH educational system.

Quality always prevails

Advertizing, she says, requires that you are always curious, to absorb the world around you, with all the finesses, and to constantly question everything. Every day is a work day, and the people seriously engaged in this job must be assertive, know the sociological and cultural context, as well as business factors that can potentially influence the client's business.

- So every day is unpredictable, exciting, and that's what I love most about our business. The challenges are many, especially in an insufficiently developed market like BiH, where there is no awareness of the necessity of the existence of the creative industry in general, nor the benefits it brings to the economy, culture and the whole society itself. The industry is not standardized, jobs are obtained according to various criteria, the state mechanisms do not go hand in hand, and quality is often not appreciated enoguh, and if you do business in accordance with the laws and positive business practices, it takes much more work and proving yourself to gain a client. Fortunately, long-term quality always prevails, so we hardly lose the clients we win. The quality of the service speaks for itself.

The future of the PR agencies in BiH is, in her opinion, closely related to the development of the media, and this is how she explains it.

- In our market, clients still largely perceive PR as free marketing, which is also reflected in the relationship between the media and the PR practitioners. It has become almost impossible to place quality information if it is not in some way, directly or indirectly, paid for. In addition, there are less and less quality media. Although they are quantitatively stronger than ever, the information are placed without any qualitative criteria. In sucha context, quality PR becomes not only an inevitability, but also a kind of educational system that has a positive future in a country like BiH.

 

 

Do not accept anything less than the maximum engagement

The many years of experience she has gained in this industry has taught her that nothing is the way it looks at the beginning, and that you have to trust your internal compass.

- I realized that we should never react lightly, that we are all people with our own characteristics. I would say that with great responsibility comes a large dose of pressure that needs to be adequately amortized in communication with all business associates.

A successful manager, she says, must primarily have a very clear vision of the future and specifically formulated goals.

- In our industry, people are the most important resource, therefore it is essential to take into account the individual characteristics and abilities of employees, who certainly have their own personal goals, and guidet them in order to achieve a common business goal. Apart from the usual skills and abilities that every successful manager must have, the most important for me is honesty. Only an open and honest manager can earn the true trust and loyalty of the team that he manages.

The honesty she manifests as someone who heads the team, she likes to also feel in her colleagues.

- If you as a leader demonstrate integrity, trust comes naturally, but you must be ready to work on yourself continuously, while helping others grow and develop professionally. Enable space and conditions for the growth and development, but do not accept anything less than the maximum engagement.

She thinks that certain decisions are never easy to make, especially those that represent milestones for the agency's business, whether it is a relationship with a client or a supplier, or an internal organization issue.

- The way of decision making, and certainly the outcomes of it, always testify to a mans’ character. I am very analytical, and when I make a decision, I always count the pros and cons, and I turn to the side that will bring our collective long-term benefits.

Read the whole interview HERE.