This month Grzegorz Gawin, Founder of Polish based Communications agency Hagen, gives us a closer look into his agency as they celebrate their 10th anniversary, sharing the technological trends which he is witnessing at the moment, as well as his great love of Volleyball.
Hi Grzegorz, tell us about Hagen. How do you describe your agency?
First of all, we are now in a very distinct moment in the history of Hagen – we have just celebrated 10 years! When we started the agency, we positioned ourselves as a marketing agency specialized in financial services. It was new to the market and we quite quickly acquired our first clients. However, in due course, it turned out that financial companies started to build in-house capabilities for the services we delivered and we had to shift our activity in a slightly different direction than we initially anticipated. Currently we specialize in 2 areas:
- Sales promotion, activations and loyalty schemes both for B2C and B2B
- Marketing technology understood as software that can support marketing processes within organizations
We also do typical marketing communication projects. In this area Digital plays the most important role. I think it would be useful to explain what we won’t do: PR, Media and Social, understood as running brand profiles.
How long has Hagen been in business?
It’s been 10 years and I am especially happy about the fact that when we started there were 4 of us, including an intern that wanted to do her internship in a start-up. I am particularly proud of the fact that 2 fantastic women who started this journey with me are now still a part of Hagen! They are the key people – Aleksandra runs our Client Service Department and Maja is our most senior Creative.
During the past 10 years we have evolved from an agency that had their Christmas party at one table of 4 to a group of 23 people who joined Hagen with their passion, experience and a different view of the world around us. I personally strongly believe that the differences between us make us richer and when building the team I always look for people with an open mindset and who are ready to align to our company culture.
You're based in Warsaw. Tell us about your city!
Warsaw is the city where I was born and raised so I love this city. I spent my younger years exploring different alleys, corners and cul-de-sacs, discovering beautiful spots that were completely away from any tourist routes. That was important because in the eyes of non-Warsaw residents it was a very sad and ugly place – the whole of the Old Town, Royal Castle and other famous places were completely destroyed during WW II and were rebuilt in the mid 70’s. You could smell the fresh buildings as your eyes looked over the old architecture, a very strange feeling.
Starting in the 90’s, the city began to gain more colour and became a very vivid place. It is still not the No.1 tourist destination in Poland (Krakow for sure is No.1!) but the Old Town got some patina and a lot of new, beautiful buildings and areas have been built. Nowadays Warsaw can proudly present itself to any visitor.
Going back to business, who are your key clients?
Our key client is our first client - BNP Paribas. We started to work with them in 2011 and we mutually develop this cooperation. We very cautiously listen to them to deliver the solutions they need, and always try to exceed expectations. We are all extremely proud of this relationship because the Bank went through 3 M&A processes to eventually become BNP Paribas and we are still with them.
Our other clients are mainly financial companies, which were built on our legacy. I can name PZU Group, that is the biggest insurance company in Poland and the No. 1 company in Poland as well. We also work for Unilink, the biggest insurance agent working with 14,000 outlets. We also run smaller projects for other players from the Finance and Insurance industries. Recently we started to acquire clients from the FMCG sector and now run several new projects.
What is it that clients like about Hagen? What do you do that makes you special?
Our key statement is that we are the all-arrangers, this obviously sounds much better in Polish . The main idea behind it is that we want to do our job so that our clients can feel comfortable and know what outcome to expect.
They know that projects will be done the best possible way and can take items off their to-do list's to focus on their own priorities. In an ideal world we want our clients to almost forget that our job takes place and enjoy the outcome.
Have you been doing anything new or different to support your clients through the pandemic?
Yes, we have switched from off-line events to on-line events. What we did, and what we are particularly proud of, is a platform for on-line events. This can be done in connection with any software like Zoom, Teams, etc. This works very nicely and we continue to deliver this as a white label solution ready for integration with clients own websites. This is just an example of what our Marketing Technology team delivered recently.
Generally, a big advantage of our positioning as the all-arrangers is that our clients feel comfortable asking us about new things and trust us to be capable to do them, unless we say no. To sum up –we ride on the tide of our clients needs in new areas and explore these areas using our strengths and potential. Additionally, to this reactive approach, we launched 2 brand new services that went live recently and we went on the market with them.
What can you offer to other Tribe Members and Partners?
First of all, I am sure we will be a very good partner for any clients who plan to enter a still growing European market with almost 40 million potential customers or 2 million potential business customers.
We can also share our expertise in Digital, Technology andMarketing Services including Sales Support activities (B2B and B2C promotions, loyalty schemes, MGM, etc.). We are very strong in Finance and Insurance. We are also familiar with legal and formal aspects of working with data in line with GDPR.
Working regularly with technology development, what trends are you witnessing in 2021?
Generally what we're now observing is that companies have started to unfreeze their budgets. Clients have come back to discussions about their sales targets.
On the other hand, more and more companies talk about SDGs and their responsibilities towards the greater good. I expect quite a big polarisation of activities focusing on typical sales support activities with sales-driven communication to reach targets, and purely image activities with less and less middle ground between. But I think this will finish in the second half of 2022 and somehow we will come back to more balanced communication.
Have you been working on anything new internally?
Over the last 12 months we have developed the Hagen Code of Conduct. Everyone in the agency has participated and agreed to obey these rules. Each new employee who has joined the agency after it launched has been familiarized with it. I must say that we even had to let go of one employee in their first week of employment because she did not agree with our Code of Conduct. We all treat it very seriously to have integral organizational culture and to work in an atmosphere that doesn't generate additional stress.
What have you done recently that you are most proud of?
Professionally – the answer is straight and simple – the HAGEN TEAM!! It is great to work together with Hagen people. This puts a smile on my face every morning, even when I need to wake up very early. Personally, I think we have built an interesting organizational culture. I am strongly convinced that everyones performance in alignment with the organization's culture is more important than temporary business results achieved not in-line with the organization's culture. I put a lot of effort in to keep the team together and aligned and this is most important element of my work.
Personally – this is also an easy question . I am in the place where I wanted to be at this age. Leaving the comfortable world of financial corporations, which I did 10 years ago, was not a no-brainer decision. From my current point of view I can now say that thanks to this I am simply a better person today, not to mention a better husband and father.
The Tribe are big on Football, so we have to ask...who is your favourite football team?
Well, I like football, but I love volleyball! It's no surprise considering the performance of Polish teams, including the national team. Generally in Poland, volleyball is very popular. Our team has won the last 2 World Championships, Polish club won the Champions League this year and we are waiting for Tokyo 2020/2021 where we are one of the candidates for gold. I understand this could be quite a niche sport in other countries (apart from maybe Russia, Italy and Brazil) so let’s say generally that I support the Polish national team.
You can reach Grzegorz at: