Monday, October 10, 2005

Budapest Meeting

Dialogue International, the pan-European network of independent advertising agencies, gathered in Budapest, Hungary, for its autumn Managers’ Meeting this past weekend. I have been part of this network for more than15 years, and a past Chairman.

I asked several former colleagues to send impressions to Signalwriter. Here's the first, from Peter Thoma, Chairman of Erat, Thoma & Herzog of Rorschach, Switzerland. (Yes, that’s Peter from the back – a photo of him photographing Budapest at night.)

“New faces, new ideas, and so forth. The most interesting thing to me is the fact that – although we are all advertising people – the markets in the different countries are completely different.

“We in the old economy work in saturated markets with all the too-well-known side effects (too many suppliers and a very slow growth if any at all, too many hungry sharks for too less demand) whilst our colleagues in the new eastern markets are programmed for growth - dual digit rates!

“We in Switzerland, Germany, France, UK, Scandinavia struggle to get our share of invitations for pitches whilst our eastern friends must be careful not to participate in too many. The same with agency marketing. Said one eastern friend, ‘Marketing or advertising for our own agency? What for? Clients just stand in a long line and we try to satisfy them all.’

“One thing always touches me personally: The eastern countries and economies were nowhere 10 years ago and we considered them dying Communists. And today? They talk about branding, experience society, corporate design, and all that stuff we thought was our invention! And I can sit in a Budapest cafe, using my laptop and surfing the Internet via a provided hot spot - for free! Try doing that in a Zurich restaurant.

“On the other hand our new friends sometimes just want to invent Dialogue again. They want to make the same mistakes we have already done. They dream of a pan-European PR campaign for DI, or of a centralized office to pursue the chase of a network client, etc. We ‘gray panthers’ are in place to keep them on the right track.

“Our 2006 Creative Forum will take place in Malta, the 2006 spring Managers' Meeting in Gdansk (yes!), and the autumn meeting in Paris…”

Thanks, Peter, for this first report. And thank you all for keeping me in the loop. More reporting from other Dialoguers shortly.

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