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"Creating new experiences" - Milena Banović gives interview to media marketing


Clients viewed as partners and projects viewed as opportunities for setting new challenges

Milena Banović is a founder and director of the M2Communications agency which has produced some of the most successful events in the region. The Carnival of Venice at Porto Montenegro, BMW international training for new models of BMW 7 and X1 Series, spectacular launch of new Mercedes-Benz car models, Serbian Association of Managers’ gala event, national launch of the Fiat 500L, just to mention some of the projects done by Milena and her team. In this interview we have talked about what distinguishes M2Communications from other agencies, why head offices of international companies approach M2Communications directly and why this agency is the only one in the region that designs and organizes events for international VIP clients.

1.        On behalf of M2Communications you have managed numerous key accounts and participated in big projects. You have managed advertizing campaigns and produced events both in Serbia and abroad. Since you boast many years of experience in the communications industry, can you tell us what today’s typical client is really like?

The market has changed, the trends have changed and consumers have become much pickier now that they can obtain, verify and compare any piece of information in real time. Companies are struggling to retain customers and their loyalty amidst reduced budgets as a result of cost cutting strategies. Due to such a balance of powers on the market, agencies must adjust their operations through support, joint learning and partnerships with clients to create maximum quality despite investment cuts.

On the other hand, some of our clients cannot be described as the ones that typically use services of Serbian communications agencies because we also do specific, high-end events for VIP clients in the so-called luxury segment. What is challenging here is not the budget, although budgets allocated for such events are much smaller than elsewhere in the world, but the fact that experiences that we create must cater to the sophisticated taste and expectations of clients who are used to attending exclusive events all over the world.

2.         As times go by, clients change and the market is getting increasingly more competitive. What do you perceive as the biggest change in your line of work since your agency was established?

The initial change in the development of our agency has been to accept big challenges as we have found out that this actually motivates us and pushes us towards setting new goals.

Current times call for more flexibility, more intensive monitoring of trends and mastering of creative management skills. These are the areas that our team has been working on continuously in order to learn more about new communication areas and master the practice of big international agencies to be able to create added value not only for our clients, but also for our profession both in Serbia and in the rest of the region.

We are trying to avoid classical concepts even if sometimes they are much easier to implement or meet our clients’ requirements. The bottom line is to raise the bar ourselves in relation to our initial assignment and to make difficult projects even more difficult to implement right from the very start. Clients, of course, always find it interesting to see an agency trying to test the limits of feasibility, but to us this is just an additional inspiration.

For example, we did a presentation of the Mercedes-Benz S Class car at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre in Belgrade in 2013. We had presented two ideas to the client, but we suggested the client to opt for a more ambitious idea of the two although we knew that we would have a very short deadline to implement it once we got the approval from the client. This is why we set up and managed a team of more than 100 people in order to be able to create a highly complex and specific event production within a limited deadline.

3.         An important project that you did last year was a BMW event for which you were hired directly by the BMW headquarters. Have you had similar experiences with other companies, as well?

The BMW Group AG conducted an international training for the new BMW 7 and X1 Series and M2Communications was commissioned to organize a four-day training at multiple locations in Serbia. This global training was conducted in several countries of Europe, South East Asia and Africa. BMW gave the highest marks to the organization of the training in Serbia and described it as a best practice event. At the end of the year we received a golden award from UEPS (Association of Serbian Market Communications) in the corporate event category.

SAMSUNG was the first multinational company to have hired us back in 2009, and then others came. When a company headquarters makes a direct selection of an agency to work with, we often compete with agencies from other countries. Winning such projects is a source of additional satisfaction to us.

4.         How about Porto Montenegro? Can you tell us how this cooperation had started and share with us some interesting examples of this cooperation?

Porto Montenegro had announced an international pitch competition to which agencies from London, the Middle East and our local region applied. We won and became the agency that Porto Montenegro regularly uses for their events. Big projects that we did for Porto Montenegro included the organization of the "Owners Club Event" in 2014, inspired by the Carnival of Venice, and "Superyacht Rendezvous" exclusive party entitled "Pearl Party" in 2015. These were closed type events organized exclusively for Porto Montenegro customers. Events of this kind do not include standard protocols, speeches or presentations – everything is so dynamic and elegant with only one goal in mind: to captivate customers, members of the international jet set who have specific expectations and who pursue a particular lifestyle. The goal, of course, is to promote closer relations with this type of customers, as well as to discretely advertize new plans of the marina, which is why mainstream concepts and presentations must not be the focus of the event. This is a kind of hospitality events that enable visitors to enjoy the programme that caters to their sophisticated taste. Unfortunately, there are very few events of this kind in our region and they are mostly tied to exclusive locations such as Porto Montenegro, one of Europe’s biggest and most modern marinas.

5.         You are a member of the Association of Serbian Market Communications (UEPS) Supervisory Board and an active member of the Serbian Association of Managers (SAM). How do you see yourself in these roles?

To be a member of such associations for networking purposes is a completely legitimate choice. However, what I believe in and strive for, together with my colleagues, is to unite the business public or at least our profession around some common points, such as faster integration of best international practices and upgrading the quality of our work. We are trying to be good collocutors not only to each other, but also to representatives of relevant institutions because we are on the same side and we must work together towards creating a business enabling environment for all.

The main reason why I devote my time to these associations is the opportunity to share experiences, compare best practices, as well as to identify professional challenges and possible ways to overcome them.

6.         Nobody can rest on their laurels, so what is the secret to your success that brought your agency four UEPS awards in the event project category (in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015, respectively)?

There is no secret formula, only the quality and high level of services that will always be our priority and a major aspect of our project management. We apply a unique approach to each project and we have managed to upgrade our level of event production.

In our method of operation we make no difference between ideas and their materialization. A concept or an idea that we present to a client is simply materialized in the same way as it had been initially presented or in an even better way. We analyze each assignment in great detail and we do our utmost to familiarize ourselves with the client, its brands, values, history, competition, etc. We are very careful about details and we design innovative conceptual solutions.

An important ingredient in the formula of success is for people to love their job. You should embark upon a journey to success with all your heart. If your personal affinities and interests are closely related to your profession and if business dynamics is an integral part of your lifestyle, then you are on the right path. With knowledge, experience, perseverance and ability to overcome obstacles, you are highly likely to reach your final destination.

7.         What makes you especially proud of your market appearance, apart from the aforementioned awards?

We are proud of our energy and the ambience that we have built in our agency. We are also proud of the fact that as an independent agency we have grown into a company which is competitive both at the local and international markets. We foster friendly relations and partnerships with all our clients and associates. Together with them we like to embark upon new challenges and to share joy over a job well done.

We advocate creation of an authentic brand experience, i.e. everything that people can experience or what makes them attached to a certain brand, both rationally and emotionally. Our work process has proved successful, at least judging by the results and projects that we have implemented, as well as judging by our clients’ reactions.

We are trying to give our own creative touch to everything that we do and we see each project as a fresh opportunity for innovation or implementation of an authentic solution that will highlight distinguishing features of our clients. We like to say that we develop new opportunities, embark upon challenges and create new experiences.


Source: Media Marketing