In our Media Marketing editorial office, we made an analysis of the campaigns and chose "our" favorite among those created during the time we were in quarantine, working from home and trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our choice is the #firsttime campaign of Zagrebačka banka and the Señor agency. All things considered, this is a unique project whose value will be assessed over the years as “small” entrepreneurs grow, to whom Zaba and Señor have given the wind in their backs. We talked about the #firsttime project, which helps micro small entrepreneurs in tourism, with Iva Barbarić, Marketing Director of Zagrebačka banka and Iva Kaligarić, Super Managing Director at Señor. This is the story of how the creation of the largest online platform for the promotion of undiscovered beauties and unique experiences of Croatia began.

MM: Zagrebačka banka recently presented a new campaign with the interesting name #firsttime. What is it about and what was the motive for launching the campaign?

Iva Barbarić (Zaba): #firsttime is the way Zaba wants to help Croatian tourism. Instead of running a marketing campaign about our own products and services, we have launched a campaign to support micro and small entrepreneurs, while creating the largest online platform to promote the undiscovered beauties and unique experiences of Croatia. This whole situation with the covid had the greatest impact on the business of micro and small entrepreneurs who are the core of the Croatian economy. At the same time, during the pandemic, it was difficult for all of us to move and travel outside the country's borders. And this is the ideal incentive to discover the beautiful Croatian places, which directly helps the sustainability of domestic tourism.

As part of the campaign, we launched the website and a prize competition in which micro and small entrepreneurs in tourism have the opportunity to win a free promotion. Owners of accommodation, hotels, eco-villages, family farms, tourist guides, diving instructors and many other business entities with an original tourist offer can apply for the competition. The competition is open until September 30, and an expert jury will select a total of 15 winners.

MM: What can the applicants for this project win and what will be evaluated when choosing the best ones?

Iva Barbarić (Zaba): Simply put - a free and comprehensive marketing campaign that will provide them with visibility to the general public and present their entrepreneurial stories. This includes everything from videos, photos, billboards, web banners to promotions on social networks and in the media, as well as Zaba's advertising spaces - branches, ATMs and such. And the top two of the 15 winners will also receive a TV commercial - including the entire production and media lease.

It is important to emphasize that, in addition to the 15 winners, others who apply and have a unique tourism product or service will have the opportunity to be promoted through our digital platform. In the evaluation of projects, the specificity of the tourist offer (for example - innovation, sustainable business, application of new technologies), the curiosity of the undiscovered destination, persuasiveness and motivation will be important.

MM: By the end of the year, you have focused all your marketing budgets on this project. An interesting decision. How did it come about?

Iva Barbarić (Zaba): We all know how challenging this year is for the whole economy, and especially for small entrepreneurs in tourism. At Zaba, we recognized that entrepreneurs today, more than ever, need not only financial, but comprehensive support in order to better define their business plans and position themselves in the market. Therefore, since the beginning of the year, we have launched many significant socially responsible projects, and #first time is another contribution to the community in which we live and do business and where we want to be part of the solution.

MM: How inspired are you to work on such socially responsible projects?

Iva Kaligarić (Señor): A lot. I am also privately involved in the work of associations that help vulnerable groups, and the desire to contribute to a better world is in the very core of Señor's business. From the very beginning, Vanja and I initiated and joined initiatives to help small and medium entrepreneurs (Brand New Year), violence prevention (If you only watch, it’s as if you are abuser for Hrabri telefon), later sexual minorities (Honest Wines - Pride), the elderly and the marginalized (Gloomy Christmas), but also our business community (Sloganini - base of slogans, Art of feedback - a project that raises awareness of better cooperation between clients and creatives)… Such projects are a great pleasure, because in addition to freedom of creative expression (and awards), they bring the satisfaction of real and positive impact on the world around us.

MM: How did the creative process of the #first time go?

Iva Kaligarić (Señor): Intense. The idea itself was born while we have in a lockdown, when instead of getting lost in Zoom, we decided to launch something positive for the most vulnerable. The situation we have found ourselves in causes fear and confusion. It also encourages reflection, weighing which things that are important and not. We are extremely proud of the approach of Zagrebačka banka. Aware of the situation, Zaba did not want to talk about herself but to put people, their stories, life worries and joys in the foreground and with a concrete initiative, like a true leader, to act on all segments of society and show support to citizens and entrepreneurs in uncertain times. One of the most affected segments of the economy is tourism. Summer was approaching, it was clear that the season would experience a big drop. Thus, instead of the classic brand campaign, came the #firsttime which has the power to bring real benefits and initiate positive change in society.

MM: Who is the creative team that worked on it?

Iva Kaligarić (Señor): The whole Señor was involved in the project, and given the breadth and comprehensiveness, it was necessary to strongly integrate and cooperate with the mega-team Señor-Zaba, with whom, without classic courtesy, we really functioned as one. Without the joint engagement, great perseverance and good energy of a large number of professionals and the help of strategic partners, this project could not have succeeded and provoked so much interest and reactions from the very beginning.

MM: What are your expectations from the whole project?

Iva Barbarić (Zaba): We expect a lot of good applications and quality projects that will help in the promotion and to help people discovering them. We believe that the online site will come to life as a central place where citizens will be informed in one place about unique destinations and experiences throughout Croatia, throughout the year.

Iva Kaligarić (Señor): At the moment, we want to activate as many small entrepreneurs as possible to apply for the competition. In the long run, we would like for to become a rich platform for in-depth research of Croatian specialties and empower valuable entrepreneurs who offer an innovative tourist offer and respect the socio-cultural authenticity of the destination. We hope that they, as well as the users, will recognize this positive and selfless initiative of Zaba. When we are already very reliant on tourism, we must not forget about domestic tourists, not only in the peak season, but throughout the year. In any case, this is just the beginning, we have before us the election and implementation of 15 campaigns, and then the continuation and upgrade of this valuable platform.

The interview was originally published on the Media Marketing portal.