Jelena Jazić, Managing Director at McCann Beograd, has been building her career for eighteen years. It is a very successful career that began in 2001 in Doncafe Group, where Jelena was Trade Marketing Manager. Afterward, she started working at Carlsberg, where she spent almost ten years and was in charge of the development of brands in the territories of South-East Europe, and parallel, she was running marketing activities in Croatia and Hungary during her last two years in the company. After the beer industry, Jelena took the road to Delhaize Serbia, where she was VP for marketing and strategy. Before joining McCann Beograd, she transferred her international experience to the Air Serbia team and worked on developing communication for the national airline.
Jelena’s career path was very dynamic, which enabled her to overcome different challenges and to learn a lot about the business and the people she works with. She says that the people she works with are always the most important part of business life. She has been devoted to people throughout time, and now, when she has been leading the largest and most successful agency of I&F Grupa for a year, she says that her job is to motivate people to give their best. She is satisfied with her career and if she could repeat everything, she says she would do the same.
For Jelena, a brand is a brand and there is no difference, no matter how different the categories in which she worked were – coffee, beer, retail, airline industry. Regardless of the similarities, there are differences. Doncafe, in which Jelena began, was a domestic company in the regional market when the market experienced its boom, and when things were happening very fast. On the other hand, she believes that companies like Carlsberg or Coca-Cola are the best place for someone to enter the marketing scene because they can learn everything about the strategy and how the brand develops. In private, Jelena is known for being a huge dog lover – she has an Akita Inu for 12 years now. She also loves nature, where she spends every free moment with her family. She is the mother of a two-year-old boy and believes that everything is possible with good organization, conversation, and balance.
MM: After 17 years of work on the client-side, you moved to the agency. What motivated you to do make this step?
Jelena Jazić: I needed a change, and this position is certainly a step further in my career and, in my opinion, it is a logical and excellent upgrade. Besides, agency life has always fascinated me. People, dynamics, adaptability, everything that makes one work environment interesting.
MM: You worked in different industries: coffee, beer, retail, and airline. What experience did you gain in those 17 years?
Jelena Jazić: The experience varied, I learned a lot because I worked in different industries and therefore I have constantly improved, that is my nature. I love novelties. During the previous period, I would primarily point out retail, because it positions you at the source of all information. You feel and know the pulse of consumers, but you also acquire very specific skills such as, for example, sustainable development that will, in my opinion, quickly become the basis of every successful brand.
MM: What do you prefer to remember from that part of your career?
Jelena Jazić: I like to remember my time spent at Carlsberg. Great people, atmosphere, and big projects at the European level that certainly marked my career. From that period, I am certainly the proudest of launching Tuborg on our market, and this, besides the re-positioning of Maxi, is certainly my favorite project.
MM: The difference between client and agency work can be huge. What is your experience, what is the difference in your opinion?
Jelena Jazić: The difference primarily reflects in speed. I am still stunned with the efficiency and speed at which the agency creates and produces ideas and solutions. Only now, I understand the importance of “short deadlines” and how one day can make a big difference.
MM: You are managing McCann Beograd agency, the largest creative agency within I&F Grupa. Was McCann your only choice and if so – why?
Jelena Jazić: Yes, it was my only choice when it comes to agencies, McCann is the leading agency in our market, part of a global network with very interesting clients and is my choice in further building my career. The reasons are simple: an excellent team, clients with whom we build strong connections and campaigns that create a dialogue in society.
MM: What is the most important thing for an agency? People working in it, clients for whom the agency is working, trust in the agency-client relationship, the market…?
Jelena Jazić: People are the most important for the agency, as well as for any other organization. The success of the organization depends on their motivation and sense of belonging. Satisfied people are more productive, and in this case, they provide strong ideas that make huge changes in business results, the wider society, etc. Trust between the agency and the clients is the basis of our business. McCann is focused on building long-term partnerships with its clients, whether they are large companies like The Coca-Cola Company, L’Oréal, Master Card, Delhaize, MTS, or the EXIT-type organization. Our goal is to build trust and teamwork by which, together with our clients, we can create campaigns that are significant for consumers and make a qualitative change.
MM: How do you perceive the Serbian advertising scene?
Jelena Jazić: I think our scene lacks a little more innovation and courage. This is a big task for us, both agencies and clients, who need to support bold suggestions because today it is very difficult for them to differentiate themselves in the sea of information and communication channels.
MM: If you could change something in the industry, what would it be?
Jelena Jazić: First, I would work more on the communication between agencies in our industry. Only together can we create the best possible conditions in which our agencies can move forward, where agency work is evaluated, and clear criteria for awards are introduced. I would add that the agencies are big social drivers and that they can introduce a qualitative change in the field of education with their joint efforts.
MM: In your opinion, which trends are the most important in advertising today?
Jelena Jazić: Based on the McCann Truth Central Research “Truth about Global Brands”, as many as 70% of consumers are looking for a “higher goal” or a cause, and they are more loyal to the brands that have it. Additionally, they expect the brands (instead of society) to solve certain problems in communities. I think that today the aforementioned sustainable development trend is very noticeable and that it will be an integral part of every successful brand’s DNA. Just look at how Patagonia made a difference globally, and you can make sure that our customers are increasingly investing in a sustainable development strategy. In our country, sustainable development is becoming an integral part of our clients’ communications from retail, FMCG or telecommunications, but certainly also part of our agency DNA.
MM: Research says that young people of today do not like working in advertising. Do you think that is right?
Jelena Jazić: We do not have such experience in McCann. There is always a large number of young people applying for professional practice; my colleagues often visit various faculties where they strive to bring students closer to agency life. Young people love advertising, but they also like to try out other industries. It is an integral part of career building.
MM: Jelena, what would you advise young people entering the world of marketing?
To be curious and constantly ask questions.
To be consistent with the brand they work with and build it consistently in the long run.
To have fun and enjoy their work.