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Innovation and an eye for opportunity

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Innovation. It's one concept that Dan Cîrstea, Managing Partner of United Media Corporation, is certainly no stranger to. His company is continually evolving, catering to the needs of the dynamic Romanian PR and marketing domains.
Cîrstea enjoys working with “talented and kind people” and this partnership translates into a company with an experience of 17 years on the local market. United was set up in 2000 and is one of the leading Romanian companies specialized in PR and marketing for shopping centers, retail, real estate, tourism, FMCG, financial services and B2B. In the manager’s own words: “Our core services are: consultancy, PR, branding, creative & design, B2B & B2C event organizing, media planning & buying. Our experience encompasses over 3,500 communication projects for corporate, government and non-profit organizations, both in Romania and abroad.”
These are achievements Cîrstea proudly lists, when asked to describe his company in a few words. He says he was meant to be an entrepreneur, since he only worked for a couple of years for someone else and then started United when he was only 25 years old. Now, 17 years later, the company stands out on the market. “I think creating a Return On Investment System that allows us to make our clients leaders in their categories is our main accomplishment. This system is based on proprietary Aggregate Performance Indicators. Based on those indicators, United can build precise marketing predictions, and thus we can sometimes guarantee our clients the success of their PR or marketing activities. This is the result of more than seven years of application. Using this ROI System we have managed to bring many of our clients in the top companies of their industries in only one year, in terms of media visibility. I am talking about clients like AFI Cotroceni, Altex, Bucuresti Mall and Plaza Romania, Parklake, Christian Tour, The Egyptian Tourism Authority, Maritimo Shopping Center, JW Marriott or Knorr,” Cîrstea explained, adding that the company’s vision is that the PR and marketing communications need to be predictable and produce ROI, but in order to accomplish that goal, they need to be both creative and measured. Applying that, the successes continued. “On the B2B market, I will mention the example of P3 Parks. In this particular case, we succeeded to double the number of articles that appeared in the media over a period of one year. In the B2C segment, we also had excellent results with Bucharest Mall and Plaza Romania, malls owned by Anchor Grup. Through a bold PR program we generated a media coverage of over 2,000 appearances (online, print and TV) during one year, thus placing the malls at the top of their category, relative to their size.”
The United team won’t stop here. The company will invest in developing the ROI System and methodologies, as well as promoting the Marketing Measurement in the market. Along with signing new clients, they are exploring new strategic partnerships with media and marketing companies and other agencies. This year has proved to be a very busy one so far. “We have already launched the first Report on the Media Coverage of the Office Building Projects in Bucharest that analyses the visibility of those projects in the mass-media. Those projects account for around 2,500 appearances in 12 months, over 700,000 sqm of lettable area and one billion euro development investment. We will also publish a report on the mall industry by the end of June,” says Dan Cîrstea.
He mentioned launching Maritimo Shopping Center as well as creating and developing the ROI System as his biggest professional successes so far. Proud father of a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Cîrstea told Business Arena in an exclusive interview that in the company he has “the usual strategic role of the General Manager, as well as the usual role of the entrepreneur, who has to make sure that clients as well as employees are happy.” And he isn’t afraid of the competition. “United differentiates through our ROI System, and the development of special competences in certain industries, such as real estate, shopping centers, retail, tourism, FMCG, financial services and B2B. Developing in-depth competences means, besides learning, also developing tools and other resources for it, such as: Mallketing and 3D Brandsense, two instruments created by United, as well as visibility studies, various research on the retail market or industry events.”
Mallketing is a strategic marketing methodology dedicated to commercial centers and malls. It combines four fundamental performance perspectives for the business and marketing strategy in order to increase profitability and predictability: Traffic, Relationships, Brand and Financial. 3D Brandsense is a branding method on which United would base its brand strategies, both for new brands and the rebranding of established ones. “Developing new methodologies and systems is fantastic,” says Cîrstea when talking about what he loves most about his job. 
In the past, he was a Member of the Board at the National Research and Development Institute for Oil Industry Equipment in Ploiesti. When asked about the challenges he has faced along his professional life as a manager, he replies promptly: “The two economic crises! We all talk about the latest one that took place in 2008, but you may ask what was the first one? I believe that we opened the company in the last years of an economic crisis, which ended somewhere in 2003 or 2004. Leading my agency through these two periods was for sure a big challenge. We had to think how to adapt to a new climate, and to all the changes that impacted my clients and their fields of activity, and also the Romanian mass-media.”
What are the problems and the challenges surrounding the marketing sector now? Again, a prompt straightforward answer: “The old concepts of Kotler marketing are, well, old, and the solution is the scientific marketing, where for example the concept of targeting is replaced by mass marketing. The shopping centers, for example, are all mass market products, as they reach to everybody, from children, teenagers, students, to adults and pensioners. You cannot have a successful shopping center where you only “target” families! What do you do with the singles? We have to understand that and to communicate accordingly. In another category, do you know that a major chunk of the market for the Johnson Baby shampoo is made of adult users? Targeting does not work and it actually never did, it was a purely theoretical concept. We need to be aware of that, and to change our marketing as soon as possible!”
As a marketing person, Dan Cîrstea is deeply concerned with the level of innovation in Romania in general and in the real estate market in particular. Even though the local players are sometimes mature companies, he firmly believes that the level of innovation both in terms of product development, as well as marketing communications needs to be improved. “There is too much imitation, and quite a low appetite for new ideas. Most office projects are green, most malls have pretty much the same retailers and entertainment facilities, most projects communicate the same benefits and features. So, in order to increase innovation, I believe that new methodologies need to be used, that marketing people need to be involved early in the product development phase, and more focus to be given to customer needs instead of competition. On the other hand, the real estate market is an “optimistic” market again, and that gives room to more innovation too!”

The interview is also available in our print edition of Business Arena.

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