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Re-positioning the Golden Drum Festival – Inspired to Inspire

The 23rd edition of the Golden Drum Festival, one of the most prestigious events in the creative industry, has come to an end. In a QnA with, Sebastian Hejnowski, CEO of MSLGROUP CEE discusses MSLGROUP’s role in organizing this year’s Golden Drum festival as the event’s strategic partner and the jury’s views, which constituted of experts from MSLGROUP.

Q. What was MSLGROUP’s role in organizing the Golden Drum Festival?

Sebastian: MSLGROUP is a strategic advisor involved in re-positioning the Golden Drum Festival. We were tasked with communicating the event to the marketing industry across 37 different markets in Europe and the Middle East. We publicized this year’s slogan – “Inspired to Inspire” – across these markets and promoted the event. This is the second time where we have been the Golden Drums’ exclusive PR partner. Our Slovenian office works closely with the event’s organizers, making sure that the Festival’s agenda is thoroughly communicated.

Image source: Golden Drum on Facebook

Q. What did you talk about during this year’s Golden Drum Festival?

SH: Together with Zofia Bugajna, Business Development Director at MSLGROUP CEE, we talked about changes that are occurring and the development of the PR industry. We shed light on how the line dividing different specialized agencies is beginning to fade. The market is gradually returning to the “everything under one roof” model of operations, with one big difference: PR has the potential to become a leading force in the industry’s strategic processes.


A revolution in the industry is bringing about big changes, and the only way to improve the current situation is through cooperation. Public Relations needs to be integrated with advertising and social media, such synergies will affect the demand for completely different PR specialists. The market needs strategic advisors in the fields of communications and business consulting and this is the direction in which modern PR is heading.

Q. In terms of campaigns presented during this year’s festival, what significance does the country of origin of a given campaign’s creator have?

SH: This year’s Golden Drum Festival featured a new category. Applications whose creative ideas had a real impact on their country’s communities could compete for the “Best Capture of Local Spirit” award.

Q. What are your impressions after this year’s Festival?

SH: For the very first time, the Golden Drum Festival was first held in Ljubljana instead of in the coastal city of Portorož. This change had both its supporters and opponents. Portorož is absolutely stunning, there’s no denying that, and the city has been a magnet for the European advertising industry for years. However, over recent years, the Golden Drum Festival has certainly decreased in size and in an attempt to change things around, its organizers decided to move it to Slovenia’s capital. A major advantage for Ljubljana is its proximity with the country’s airport. Furthermore, the castle in which all the meetings are held cannot be denied its charm. This year’s edition saw 1,047 applications from our region’s 26 countries. The festival is still, by far, the biggest advertising industry event in Central and Eastern Europe.

Q. You were also a jury member at this year’s Golden Drum Festival. What sort of trends were of particular value this year?

SH: Several significant social campaigns which address specific problems across our region caught the jury’s attention this year. We also assessed campaigns which had a real impact on society.

Publicis One was awarded the Grand Prix in the PR category for instantly exploiting offensive statements directed at Romania which were made by US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Publicis One Romania was also awarded the Golden Rose for being the most successful agency at the festival.

Other winners in this category included: Saatchi and Saatchi for initiating public debates concerning violence against women in Georgia, McCann for its campaign for women’s equality in Romania, TBWA for its campaign presenting bias against gays in Turkey, and Y&R for its campaign about refugees in the Czech Republic.

In the Best Piece category; the Golden Drum Adriatic Award went to the agencies Saatchi and Saatchi Macedonia/Publicis One for “Sea Hero Quest”.

All in all, the 2016 Golden Drum Festival was, as always, a very successful event. Publicis Groupe’s agencies certainly cemented their superior position in the region.

This interview was originally published in polish on