Deni Ćatović: I didn’t choose Digital, Digital chose me


Deni Ćatović heads the Digital Media department of Universal Media Sarajevo, where he has been creating strategies for clients such as The Coca-Cola Company, Podravka, Carlsberg, Addiko Bank and other clients for the past five years.

He’s a graduated economist and a guitarist who began his professional career as a salesman of office supplies. His favourite phrase is “CAN DO!”

MM: A graduated economist, a guitarist, a guy with experience in office supplies sales, and today Head of Digital Media department in a media agency. A living proof that nothing is impossible. What was it that clicked in your head and you decided to pursue a career in Digital?

Deni Ćatović: Now that I think about it, it wasn’t me who chose Digital, Digital chose me. I knew that I wanted to do something in the field of marketing, which is why I enrolled into the Faculty of Economics. After completing my studies, I did a traineeship at a company dealing with sales of office supplies, which was a remarkable experience. Shortly thereafter, I went to sales again. I worked for the eMedia Patch agency where I led the sales of advertising space on the largest multimedia facade in Europe. Then, when you least expect it, I was given not just a chance, but a privilege to work in UM. It’s a company that really invests in young people, educates them and gives them the opportunity to progress. Although at first I didn’t know much about digital, you simply fall in love with this job because of its dynamism and challenges constantly being set in front of you. When you have an interesting job and the team of people who stand by your side, in good and bad, the results are guaranteed.

MM: What exactly is your job at Universal Media?

Deni Ćatović: To put it simply, our job covers the process from creating a strategy to the implementation of web campaigns. It involves a lot of numbers, research, digging, prodding, pondering and optimizing, all with the aim of getting the best possible campaign results and ensuring client satisfaction. We always try to do something new and different, and I believe our clients have recognized that.

MM: Do you pick up your guitar in the moments of creative crisis? Does gentle pulling on the strings help?

Deni Ćatović: Rarely lately, but I always enjoy playing some notes in good company. It’s a special feeling, and very hard to describe. Playing the guitar always takes me back to some carefree times when we used to make unbearable noise all around us. 

MM: You’ve been in Digital for five years now. You work for agency’s biggest clients. What is your greatest experience so far, and what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Deni Ćatović: Working for the biggest clients is a great satisfaction, but also a great responsibility. To work with big clients means constant learning and growing. It’s an experience that means a lot and cannot be taught. Over the past five years that I’ve spent in Universal Media,  every single day has been a new experience and something you encounter for the first time. It was these very things that taught me the most important lessons – that the results of hard work and an honest approach never miss out.

MM: Your colleagues say that your favourite phrase is “CAN DO”. What does that mean? Does it mean that there are no unsolvable problems for you, that even in the most complex projects you can muster the grit and pull through?

Deni Ćatović: You know what, I’m a single child – you know, quite spoiled and a “ters” (ters is a character trait in Bosnia and Herzegovina, associated with spite, fervour, resolve and grumpiness. Used both in positive and negative connotations.) It often happens that you face a wall, a creative blockage, and you don’t know how to technically do something. In that moment someone says: “It can’t be done.” That’s when some spiteful spirit wakes up in me, and I say to myself “Now you’ll see just how it can!” And then you spend days mulling and googling until a solution simply appears before you. Colleagues from the team are a great help in that, but also the colleagues who have 1001 “why” to each and every of your “because”. They’ll know who they are.

MM: All of you working in Digital around the world have the same internet and the same tools at your disposal, and yet campaigns vary in quality insanely. What makes this difference? Is it know-how, creativity, dedication, passion for the search for something new, or something completely different?

Deni Ćatović: I agree that we all have the same internet at our disposal, but not the same tools. Universal Media invests heavily in research, which really helps us understand the market and the consumer behaviour better. One of such researches is the Wave – the longest running research on the behaviour of active internet users across the globe. Here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this research has been implemented for third consecutive year now, and soon we will publish some of the results of the tenth Wave research. Our previous experience, dedication and the tools we use most definitely give us huge competitive advantage.

MM: The latest opinions say that artificial intelligence can only be considered “augmented intelligence”, because it can enhance human strengths, give people better information, better insights and possibilities to do the job. Do you agree with this definition of AI as “augmented intelligence”?

Deni Ćatović: Partially. It is ungrateful to squeeze artificial intelligence into such a narrow definition, because the application of this technology is much wider, and will soon pervade all spheres of our lives, both privately and in business.

It will be of great help to people in executive positions. Of course, heads of IT services will have an easier job, because AI will pull useful information from enormous piles of collected data. The same can be said for data analysts, journalists, doctors… practically every industry where there are repetitive tasks that can simply be delegated to artificial intelligence.

However, for some people, AI will pose a serious business threat, and these are the people who work – so to say – in lower positions.

Customer support in many companies is now almost entirely delegated to artificial intelligence through chatbots. Truck drivers, and probably taxi drivers – have cause for concern. Tesla’s autopilot is the perfect example of the direction in which the automotive industry is moving, and it is very possible that professional drivers will be obsolete in a couple of years.

AI will make life easier for some people, and it will force others either to progress in their careers, or change their profession. However, whatever job we do – in a decade or less, AI will be an indispensable part of it.

MM: Things in Digital change almost daily. Still, how do you see the development of digital media in one year’s time?

Deni Ćatović: It’s true that things change on a daily basis. We, as a market, lag considerably behind the rest of the world, starting from investments in digital marketing to the presence of technology. Still, it’s not all so dark. Agencies and publishers are constantly working to improve their services and to develop the technology, and the ones who will most benefit from that are the clients. In the near future, I think we will have much better capabilities for more precise targeting and campaigns that are more successful.

MM: Do you have any free time? How do you enjoy spending it?

Deni Ćatović: Free time is becoming scarcer and scarcer, but I really try to devote every single moment of free time to my family, friends and the football club Sarajevo. They are the ones who make me feel best!

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