Vatra Design Consultancy, a registered trade mark of V Advertising, one of the first agencies in Albania, is now an important regional factor in the field of design, marketing and communication. Besides its successful cooperation in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Vatra Albania has established a representative office in London and has been constantly expanding its activity by offering professional business branding expertise to clients, companies and foreign partners.
Gerton Bejo, founder and CEO of the agency, tells us that Vatra Tirana is a creativity hub established to respond to clients’ demands, thinking about their image and communication standards well ahead of the clients themselves.
Under the management of Gerton, who is a design, communication and marketing expert with 20 years of experience, Vatra has operated in the Albanian market for 15 years as one of the very first marketing and communication agencies in Tirana. Ever since, Vatra has held a leading position in marketing strategies, design and public relations in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Vatra has been able to unify in one single concept the culture, the dedication and the skills of all its professional staff and collaborators who are the backbone of the agency during these 15 years. Therefore, Vatra Design Consultancy has delivered top quality service in favor of all the brands and companies it has cooperated with and created during all these years.
We met with Gerton of Vatra, right after a presentation with the marketing staff of an international company which is planning to extend its business into the Albanian market. Feeling very positive after the meeting we were able to get an interview with him. We asked him about the creativity market in Albania recently, about Vatra Advertising and in general about the public and private communication market.
Do you prefer Gerton, or should I call you Gert of Vatra? You run one of the most successful creativity companies in the market. What differentiates Vatra from the other companies so that you have distinguished achievements?
Frankly, after so many years, clients and friends alike identify me as Gert of Vatra and I am fine with that. To go back to your question, it is clear that what differentiates us from the others is exactly the definition of our industry, and that is creativity. I can tell you with full confidence that creativity is our major strength. It is the importance we give to creative ideas, authenticity and being unique. Another important strength of our agency is the extra attention we pay to details, the inspiration which stems from a highly professional staff and their deep knowledge of the markets where our company operates. Today, we are all provoked by plagiarism and the possibility to appropriate someone’s work from vast internet access. It is different with Vatra, we are driven by our determination to be authentic and consequently creative. Our aspiration to make a difference is related with our ability to develop a visual, aesthetic and substantial product, and we are committed to develop and promote this ability. A creatively developed product ingrains an original concept, in other words it has a core. The concept is the strength of our work in the Albanian market. Each brand, event planning, or communication whether visual, verbal or digital is developed based on a predefined concept which is the result of detailed research work and based on realistic data about the respective target audience.
Vatra’s work format allows us to operate in diverse markets, diverse industries and diverse audiences. This is possible through the application of the knowledge and work experience that we have acquired in country and abroad and which we have adapted to the local business culture and ethics to inspire innovation and a new work philosophy. Another factor is our commitment and determination to establish strong, successful and long-lasting relations with domestic and regional businesses as well as with well-known international organizations, which are our daily bread. We have a very flexible approach with our partners, but with no compromise on quality.
Vatra team of experts is up to date and systematically implementing concepts of groundbreaking technology, constantly attending top professional trainings, adapting to the fast changes and demands of the XXI century which requires an innovative market approach.
While an agency which curates the image and identity of other brands, how would you define your own identity?
Of course we foster our identity, but in the same time we are modest and try to keep a low and discreet profile. Our philosophy and our everyday challenge is the success of our clients through our creative work. It is our clients’ brand name and achievements which speak for us, not our self praise. In 15 years we have earned the trust of many clients, who have inspired us and have given us the opportunity to grow with them.
In an era of digital transformation and consequent transformation of perceptions and communication language, what new forms of marketing is your agency applying?
Vatra is an agency which brings a comprehensive offer in the market which includes all disciplines of a marketing agency. Besides traditional elements like the design and creativity department for brand development, video editing department which is mainly focused on developing TV spots / ads, TV logos / title sequences and PR videos for public or private institutions and the public relations department which provides professional service to represent our clients to the public and media; we have also invested on a BTL department which covers the organizing of events, guerrilla marketing actions and sponsorship campaigns which are events organized by third parties but our clients participate through sponsorships.
Moreover, in the last two years, Vatra has been especially focusing on the establishment of professional digital marketing department. It was indispensable for Vatra to establish this department due to the reshaping of the market in a new digital era with significant changes in the audience and media domain.
What is your clients’ profile?
Vatra covers a wide range of clients’ profiles from diverse industries. This is an advantage which brings us closer to the market with a 360 degree scope of work and deep knowledge of these industries. Our client portfolio includes: financial institutions, higher education institutions, FMCGO, media, law firms, national and international organizations, private and public entities, etc. We are certain that in 15 years of experience we have worked with all industries, national and international. Our daily work with such a diverse array of industries and professionals has enriched us more each year, each month, each day; it has made us better and wiser.
Are businesses in Albania today comprehensible and aware about choosing their marketing and communication specialists?
Awareness and expectations have increased mostly during the last five years but still, there are very few businesses which allocate an appropriate annual budget for marketing. Most of them are still Ad Hoc. The situation is a bit better in Kosovo and Macedonia, where companies allocate funds in advance and have marketing strategies. European Community clients on the other side make our job easy and predictable.
How is the advertising market changing in Albania?
Everyone is looking for creativity, but, honestly, in the end only few pay attention to genuine creativity and to details which make the difference. Clichés and simple presentations are still the trend in general while there is a tendency to underestimate and underpay for creativity.
Advertisement distribution channels are changing due to the changing audiences, new technology and new perceptions of our time. Even though traditional media are still the most trusted channels of communication, there is an increasing trend towards online media which are good distributors of the message but still without transmitting the necessary trust in the product they sell.
Are there sufficient investments in this sector? How has budgeting changed in years for this specific segment?
There is a decline in marketing budgets due to the financial performance of companies and lack of marketing budget planning except for some occasional budgeting. This is also the reason why the budget allocated to marketing is often spent in online media since it costs less compared to traditional media.
According to a recent survey of EBU (European Broadcasting Union), traditional media in Albania and Macedonia still remains more reliable compared to the online media. Due to the chaotic situation caused by the enormous quantity of online information, Albanians continue to trust television and radio channels, which are the main content providers for the online and social media.
Which advertising forms attract more budgeting from businesses?
Television spots and ads are allocated the largest marketing funds from businesses, but recently there is an increase of budgeting allocated to PR. The trend shows that marketing budget funds are more and more being redirected towards online media and digital marketing. According to marketing and communication experts’ forecasts, this trend will become the reality for future audiences who are born in a digital era.
What is your perspective on marketing agencies market changes in Albania?
The number of agencies in Albania has increased recently and we have also the presence of international companies who have employed local staff. What I notice is the gap between the experts and heads of these agencies. There is qualitative personal growth but we lack a common language to represent and protect the interests of this industry. Obviously this is the result of shortsighted interests of each segment, not taking into account the common interests which strengthen the industry in the long run. I believe that vision is a very important element in this type of business.
For example, we do not have any special comprehensive forums or joint activities. Kosovo and Macedonia have made much progress in this regard, establishing common understanding since 10 years now. As talented as we are, we are also witnessing significant incapability for an effective industry management.
Do we have talented people in the field of design and which forms are you applying to identify and engage real talent?
Of course we have many talented people, but what we lack is proper education capabilities. The market demand for good specialists has increased but the offer does not match the demand. These deficiencies derive from poor curricula in our schools and the lack of opportunities to be educated abroad. Today, most of design specialists are self-taught, who develop their skills thanks to their passion. For this reason, we as Vatra have allocated an annual budged for our staff training, mainly abroad.
What are the dinamics, advantages and partularities of working in a creative environment? What’s a business day like at Vatra?
Working in a creative agency is one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding experiences. It is an unequal environment where dedication, creativity, and long working hours are combined with playing, entertainment, brainstorming, exchange of information, ideas, and culture, good music and sharing of sweets to come to a high quality end product and meet client expectations.