An interview with the president


Since the subject of this year's CACTUS festival is self-reflection, our super managing director Iva Kaligarić started her warm-up session for the role of the president of the regional jury by sharing her reflection on the current state of the advertising industry in our region. Why is self-criticism important, who creates the reputation of the industry and what will Iva's focus points be while evaluating entries – find out in this interview.

Iva Kaligarić, the managing director of Croatia's Señor agency and the president of the CACTUS regional jury shares her thoughts exclusively for Marketing Mreža on the topics of self-criticism in the regional industry and why you should submit your projects to CACTUS 2022.

1. This year's topic is self-reflection. When you look yourself as a professional, the agency you work in and the whole market of marketing communications in the mirror – what do you see?

I see a shock that moves us forward. The pandemic, the war and the energetic crisis have collectively disrupted our balance, we're in search for a stable ground so we can just stop for a moment and take a breath. We don't have to wait for yearly analysis and planning, there are so many changes going on that every day has become a good opportunity to take a look at ourselves and see what we learned. Let's be honest to ourselves, admit our mistakes and give praise for doing things we never even thought we could accomplish. That's the best way to learn, advance, become better people and better marketers. And we've all proven that with a new approach in communication, one that's emphatic, authentic and emotionally intelligent. This year's projects on Cannes and Days of communication, no matter the category, included elements of social responsibility. I hope that Cactus too will be a celebration of the industry's improvement and that social responsibility is not just a passing trend.

2. Does the advertising industry lack self-criticism? Why?

Self-criticism exists, I see it in the work of our close competitors, but the market is still saturated with conformism and ignorance. There's no excuse for being ignorant, all the industry's newest and advanced knowledge, as well as examples of good practice, are just a few clicks away. But, when you no longer have any will or money, you start searching for an easier way out because tested mainstream solutions will bring you blitz results. For companies, the crisis has shifted the focus from long-term goals and investments to just surviving, which cannot be held against them. What the crisis did to us is make us faster, more efficient and responsible to the community. It's that same community, a group of more and more demanding consumers, that pushes the non-critical ones to leave their comfort zones. Agencies are no longer the ones that just passively answer to the client's demands – they proactively come up with business solutions, influence the development of products and services and encourage dealing with social issues. That's why, even if someone doesn't want to be self-critical – they'll definitely have to be.

3. Who creates the reputation of the industry in Croatia?

Marketing experts, the ones whose smart initiatives and work are at the forefront of the industry, as well as the numerous individuals who call themselves experts after completing a two-day marketing course. In times of social media and extreme self-promotion of individuals (LinkedIn, I’m looking at you), a less informed observer is less likely to distinguish between these two groups. Because of this, despite the initiatives started by the industry’s associations and individuals, the industry is not as reputable as we’d want it to be, and therefore stops being attractive to new generations and makes it harder for people who actually enjoy and invest in this field of work to make something great. That’s why competitions like Cactus are important – they’re a place where professionals can speak publicly and showcase their accomplishments, talk about current trends and educate the community. Awards are are the industry’s recognition of the industry, but they’re also a stamp of quality to new clients and a certain glue to new employees.

4. As the president of the regional jury, which details will you be focused on the most while evaluating the submitted projects, and what kind of projects do you expect to encounter?

I will evaluate the projects comprehensively, starting with understanding the local context (a big thanks in advance to every thorough explanation in the submission!) and ending with the final execution of a strategically based idea. I look forward to seeing work I haven’t seen so far, one that maybe didn’t have a chance to be so exposed in the media, just as the creatives that stand behind them. Since my first love is strategy, I will pay special attention to that part – what is the strategy based on and is it something inspiring, did the creative use all the strategy’s potential, does the project move our industry’s boundaries and does it contribute to creating a better society (doesn’t underestimate the consumer, doesn’t use stereotypes, takes diversity into account, affects social change etc.).

5. Why should agencies submit their best campaigns to Cactus 2022?
A healthy competition pushes both you and the industry forward, so share your knowledge and examples of good practice selflessly. Besides all that:
1. it’s the right time to show the industry who’s the best national agency/advertiser
2. that day, everyone will wave at you at the bar, and you can wave back with the title of the agency of the year for the next 365 days.
3. an international jury will give you an objective and unburdened review,
4. the competition will be jelly of your projects,
5. it’s a nice view from the stage with a cactus in your hand.

The text was originally published 15. 9. 2022. on Marketing mreža.