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Agency Life

Building an Agency

Building an Agency

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

May 14, 2019

How the ad industry is growing in Poland

"I am passionate about creation, making an influence, and teamwork. And I find all of these things in this challenging and dynamic industry."

Małgorzata Węgierek, CEO of Havas Media Group Poland, was recently honored as one of Press magazine’s AD wo/MAN of the Year in the Media House category. She shares her thoughts about how Poland’s advertising market is maturing and her part as a leader in that evolution.

 

Tell us about what drives you.

What drives me most about advertising is my passion. I am passionate about creation, making an influence, and teamwork. And I find all of these things in this challenging and dynamic industry.

How did you start your career and who gave you your first opportunity?

There are a few people I have met in my life who had an influence on my career path, my style and my professional life: Anna Krajewska was a very demanding person and my first professional boss at a PR agency when I was starting as an assistant. Later I became the person responsible for purchasing media (times of printing plates). Next, I worked with Paul Gareth Brown, my Scottish Media Director at Y&R, who eventually believed I could become his deputy. Anna Lubowska, who kept me by her side for 14 years when Gareth left Poland and taught me how to build the team and set a good example in business. Finally, Jacek Dzięcielak who made me the offer to build Arena in Poland and whose position I took over 3 years later.

What have been your biggest career challenges? Your biggest accomplishments, so far?

I have had many great business adventures and challenges. One of the biggest challenges was building Arena Media from scratch. We started with 2 desks in the IT Department without any clients and from there built the agency that was recognized as the industry’s rising star just 4 years later. The other one that comes to mind is the Media Edge and CIA merger, which created one media agency – Mediaedge:cia. Now such integrations are quite common, but 20 years ago it was quite unique and challenging. Neither a single client nor one person from the team has left the company, which I think was a great success we were all proud of. This shows the measurable effect of the whole project on the people who built it and the clients that use the services. These challenges come throughout professional life. Now is the moment when we face the big merger of the Havas Media agency with the Havas Creative agency as part of the Havas Village strategy.

Why Havas?

I joined Havas in 2010 to launch Arena Media. It was a great opportunity, but I also had some second thoughts and hesitations: Will I have to test myself, will I succeed? I decided to take on the challenge and I was very warmly received in the network. When I think back to that time, I remember the first person from the management that I met, Alfonso Rodés Vilà. Havas gave me the possibility to grow as CEO of the Group in a company that is changing all the time because the market conditions are changing as well. It was different when I joined and in the beginning a little bit strange for me. I came from a huge structure of the well-organized and formalized GroupM and entered Arena, which was managed in a family style. Having both experiences helps me accomplish the uniqueness of our vision to combine a wide spectrum of the services– data, content, creativity, media, and technology—under one roof. What is also very important is the Vivendi ecosystem, which mixes communication and content media to give access to experiences, media activations, stories, artists, ticketing, and the power of fans of Universal Music, Gameloft, Canal+, and Dailymotion.

"I would like to change our perception of media houses as the valuable and strategic partner for the clients, not just the subcontractor that buys media."

What are you really good at?

I think one of my biggest advantages is emotional intelligence and interpersonal competencies which are very useful in effective management. Besides, I am a self-motivated person.

What do you hope to get better at?

I would like to be more inspiring and not get excited too fast.

How do you inspire others?

By setting a good example and managing in a manner that develops and inspires others. That is why in the company we often have meetings with inspiring guests and outstanding personalities like Jarek Botur, a member of the rescue team at Nanga Parbat, Andrzej Bargiel, who completed historic first ski descent of K2 mountain, or Joanna Mazur, a blind runner.  

What inspires you?

On my list of values, people and relations hold a very high position. I am inspired by other people not only in my professional life but my personal life as well.

When people outside of the industry ask about your role, how do you describe your position?

To people who are not in advertising, I try to make it very simple: I tell them that I work with many people and this is related to commercials on TV. I say that my job is to create solutions that connect people with brands. My son thinks that my job is meeting people in fancy restaurants, having parties with celebrities, and sitting in front of the computer from time to time.

How does the advertising industry in Poland compare to other major markets, like the U.S., the U.K., and France? What’s different? What’s the same?

From my observations and discussions with friends who are responsible for coordinating countries outside of Poland I can say that the biggest difference when you compare Polish advertising industry with the USA or the UK is the maturity of the market. In the US the first TV ad was aired during WWII, in the UK it was in 1955, while in Poland it was in the late 1980s. On the other hand, the advertising market in Poland had to develop very fast to catch up with western countries. It is an ongoing process in some respects such as CPP in TV, which is still much cheaper compared to the UK or France, not to mention the US.

Another significant difference is the size of the market. Based on 2017 data, the US is the biggest ad spend market in the world with nearly $200 billion dollars while Poland has only $1.9 million dollars.

When we look at how these markets work, the US is very different and unique when compared to other markets. The way how you buy TV is different, it includes upfront negotiations for future quarters, scatter buying with hundreds of TV networks to cover, quarterly CPTs, etc. European markets are quite similar to each other with the exception of the UK. So, we can say that in general we buy media in the same way France does. TV costs are based on declared spends, we have prices by months.

When we look at the ways how we plan and optimize our campaigns, we have the same rules across all markets. Whether it is based on effective reach, CPA or other planning KPIs, we have similar tools to use. And the people who work in the UK, France, or Poland can easily move to another market and fit in quite well.

Tell us the best advice you’ve ever gotten? The worst?

Do not look for the meaning of life, but embrace life itself. And it is important not only to do, but also to consider how you do. The worst was not to give consent to failure or defeat.

What do you wish that you could change about the industry?

I would like to change our perception of media houses as the valuable and strategic partner for the clients, not just the subcontractor that buys media. After so many years I am  very active in our industry and try to give of myself. I am actively involved in setting media industry standards as a member of the Management Board of SAR – Association of Advertising Communication in Poland. I co-created the white paper of the marketing communication industry which I signed on behalf of Havas Media Group. I am also a member of IAA, where I take part in the Peer Disciplinary Board. I have had the pleasure to be a juror and a member of the organizing committee of industry competitions such as Effie or MIXX Awards.

What do you hope stays the same?

People, energy, dynamic changes, and the need to learn and develop.

"I am passionate about creation, making an influence, and teamwork. And I find all of these things in this challenging and dynamic industry."

Małgorzata Węgierek, CEO of Havas Media Group Poland, was recently honored as one of Press magazine’s AD wo/MAN of the Year in the Media House category. She shares her thoughts about how Poland’s advertising market is maturing and her part as a leader in that evolution.

 

Tell us about what drives you.

What drives me most about advertising is my passion. I am passionate about creation, making an influence, and teamwork. And I find all of these things in this challenging and dynamic industry.

How did you start your career and who gave you your first opportunity?

There are a few people I have met in my life who had an influence on my career path, my style and my professional life: Anna Krajewska was a very demanding person and my first professional boss at a PR agency when I was starting as an assistant. Later I became the person responsible for purchasing media (times of printing plates). Next, I worked with Paul Gareth Brown, my Scottish Media Director at Y&R, who eventually believed I could become his deputy. Anna Lubowska, who kept me by her side for 14 years when Gareth left Poland and taught me how to build the team and set a good example in business. Finally, Jacek Dzięcielak who made me the offer to build Arena in Poland and whose position I took over 3 years later.

What have been your biggest career challenges? Your biggest accomplishments, so far?

I have had many great business adventures and challenges. One of the biggest challenges was building Arena Media from scratch. We started with 2 desks in the IT Department without any clients and from there built the agency that was recognized as the industry’s rising star just 4 years later. The other one that comes to mind is the Media Edge and CIA merger, which created one media agency – Mediaedge:cia. Now such integrations are quite common, but 20 years ago it was quite unique and challenging. Neither a single client nor one person from the team has left the company, which I think was a great success we were all proud of. This shows the measurable effect of the whole project on the people who built it and the clients that use the services. These challenges come throughout professional life. Now is the moment when we face the big merger of the Havas Media agency with the Havas Creative agency as part of the Havas Village strategy.

Why Havas?

I joined Havas in 2010 to launch Arena Media. It was a great opportunity, but I also had some second thoughts and hesitations: Will I have to test myself, will I succeed? I decided to take on the challenge and I was very warmly received in the network. When I think back to that time, I remember the first person from the management that I met, Alfonso Rodés Vilà. Havas gave me the possibility to grow as CEO of the Group in a company that is changing all the time because the market conditions are changing as well. It was different when I joined and in the beginning a little bit strange for me. I came from a huge structure of the well-organized and formalized GroupM and entered Arena, which was managed in a family style. Having both experiences helps me accomplish the uniqueness of our vision to combine a wide spectrum of the services– data, content, creativity, media, and technology—under one roof. What is also very important is the Vivendi ecosystem, which mixes communication and content media to give access to experiences, media activations, stories, artists, ticketing, and the power of fans of Universal Music, Gameloft, Canal+, and Dailymotion.

"I would like to change our perception of media houses as the valuable and strategic partner for the clients, not just the subcontractor that buys media."

What are you really good at?

I think one of my biggest advantages is emotional intelligence and interpersonal competencies which are very useful in effective management. Besides, I am a self-motivated person.

What do you hope to get better at?

I would like to be more inspiring and not get excited too fast.

How do you inspire others?

By setting a good example and managing in a manner that develops and inspires others. That is why in the company we often have meetings with inspiring guests and outstanding personalities like Jarek Botur, a member of the rescue team at Nanga Parbat, Andrzej Bargiel, who completed historic first ski descent of K2 mountain, or Joanna Mazur, a blind runner.  

What inspires you?

On my list of values, people and relations hold a very high position. I am inspired by other people not only in my professional life but my personal life as well.

When people outside of the industry ask about your role, how do you describe your position?

To people who are not in advertising, I try to make it very simple: I tell them that I work with many people and this is related to commercials on TV. I say that my job is to create solutions that connect people with brands. My son thinks that my job is meeting people in fancy restaurants, having parties with celebrities, and sitting in front of the computer from time to time.

How does the advertising industry in Poland compare to other major markets, like the U.S., the U.K., and France? What’s different? What’s the same?

From my observations and discussions with friends who are responsible for coordinating countries outside of Poland I can say that the biggest difference when you compare Polish advertising industry with the USA or the UK is the maturity of the market. In the US the first TV ad was aired during WWII, in the UK it was in 1955, while in Poland it was in the late 1980s. On the other hand, the advertising market in Poland had to develop very fast to catch up with western countries. It is an ongoing process in some respects such as CPP in TV, which is still much cheaper compared to the UK or France, not to mention the US.

Another significant difference is the size of the market. Based on 2017 data, the US is the biggest ad spend market in the world with nearly $200 billion dollars while Poland has only $1.9 million dollars.

When we look at how these markets work, the US is very different and unique when compared to other markets. The way how you buy TV is different, it includes upfront negotiations for future quarters, scatter buying with hundreds of TV networks to cover, quarterly CPTs, etc. European markets are quite similar to each other with the exception of the UK. So, we can say that in general we buy media in the same way France does. TV costs are based on declared spends, we have prices by months.

When we look at the ways how we plan and optimize our campaigns, we have the same rules across all markets. Whether it is based on effective reach, CPA or other planning KPIs, we have similar tools to use. And the people who work in the UK, France, or Poland can easily move to another market and fit in quite well.

Tell us the best advice you’ve ever gotten? The worst?

Do not look for the meaning of life, but embrace life itself. And it is important not only to do, but also to consider how you do. The worst was not to give consent to failure or defeat.

What do you wish that you could change about the industry?

I would like to change our perception of media houses as the valuable and strategic partner for the clients, not just the subcontractor that buys media. After so many years I am  very active in our industry and try to give of myself. I am actively involved in setting media industry standards as a member of the Management Board of SAR – Association of Advertising Communication in Poland. I co-created the white paper of the marketing communication industry which I signed on behalf of Havas Media Group. I am also a member of IAA, where I take part in the Peer Disciplinary Board. I have had the pleasure to be a juror and a member of the organizing committee of industry competitions such as Effie or MIXX Awards.

What do you hope stays the same?

People, energy, dynamic changes, and the need to learn and develop.

Danielle Smith is the Communications Manager of Havas Group. She’s believes every meal can be tacos if you have tortillas and the heart to try.

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