Weekend.16 Lives Up to Its Title as the Leading Regional Festival and Wows Around 6000 Attendees

Matija Habljak / Pixsell

Living up to its reputation as the leading regional festival for media, communication, marketing, and the wider creative business sphere, the annual Weekend festival once again delighted, educated, and entertained in equal measure. The historic Rovinj Tobacco Factory welcomed a record number of attendees over three days, offering them a chance to engage in high-quality presentations and discussions led by top regional and international experts on contemporary topics and trends. The event was punctuated with ample opportunities for networking and entertainment. The subjects under discussion ranged widely, from the symbiotic relationship between PR professionals and journalists, the public perception of controversial entrepreneurs, to the transformative impact of artificial intelligence. The festival also delved into the trap music phenomenon and shared candid accounts of missteps made by successful entrepreneurs during their journey to success.

“Weekend.16 has surpassed all expectations! It was a joy to once again immerse ourselves in the electrifying atmosphere, see packed auditoriums, and witness the contentment of nearly 6,000 attendees who savored the final weekend of September. We’ve reaffirmed our status as a festival that leads in sharing experiences, fostering positive energy, nurturing friendships, and facilitating business collaborations. We are the festival of fresh ideas,” said Tomo Ricov, the program director of the Weekend Media Festival, which was once again held under the general sponsorship of the Adris Group.

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly pervasive, and it is the upcoming generations that will naturally grow up in its presence. It’s incumbent upon us to explore its potential, educate ourselves, stay informed, and embrace the transformative changes it promises to usher in. This was the central theme of the Open About AI panel. The lively exchange between AI experts Boris Debić, the Director at ZŠEM; Mislav Malenica, the President of CroAI and CEO of Mindsmiths; and Joško Mrndža, the Regional Director for Adriatics at Google, moderated by Aco Momčilović, expert and advisor at Futurehr, emphasized that this isn’t just about technology. We are poised on the brink of a new revolution. Boris Jokić, the Director of the Institute for Social Research, echoed these sentiments in his presentation, concluding that the evolution of digital technologies and AI has radically altered every facet of our lives to the extent that private space has become nearly obsolete.

Matija Habljak / Pixsell

Incredible insights about the future, geopolitical changes, and the impact of Asia on the West were unveiled by Kishore Mahbubani, a distinguished Singaporean diplomat, former President of the UN Security Council, and an expert in international relations. He shared these profound perspectives during the panel discussion titled Has the West Lost – Itself? Mahbubani emphatically declared, “The next 10 years will mark the 10 most exciting years in geopolitics.” His words carried weight as he pointed out that never before in human history had we witnessed two colossal powers of equal magnitude and influence on the verge of a confrontation. “This is going to shake the world; so, fasten your seatbelts!” Mahbubani urged from his inspiring lecture.

Emica Elveđi / Pixsell

During the lively panel discussion titled Where are PR Professionals Falling short?, Tomislav Klauški, a journalist from 24 sata, succinctly captured the crux of the debate. He argued, “The problem isn’t the overflow of information, but rather the attempt by PR professionals to manipulate journalists through political or commercial influence, under the misguided belief that they can control information. In essence, journalists struggle with PR professionals’ reluctance to provide the information they need, while being inundated with promotional material that holds little interest for them. This tug-of-war ultimately leaves the audience at a loss.” Joining Klauški on the panel were Ivan Galić Baksa, the Director of Marketing and Communications at United Media; Ruža Veljović, the Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Wireless Media Group; and Vladimir Preselj, the CEO of Millenium promocija. Another insightful discussion was had about the media’s influence on Entrepreneur perception, featuring Zoran Turković, the CEO of 24 sata; Aleksandar Stanković, TV host; Zoran Šprajc, editor and host at RTL; Hrvoje Bujas, the President of the Glas poduzetnika Association; and Tihomir Ladišić, the Director of News and Programming at N1. The panel titled The Controversial Entrepreneur was expertly moderated by Petar Štefanić and was sponsored by UGP.

Emica Elveđi / Pixsell

"At the beginning of the 90s, the word entrepreneur was mostly associated with crime, and the whole idea of ​​UGP was to make the word entrepreneur a term for people who create new values. The word businessman is a man who has reached a position through a political connection, and that is why we need to distance these two terms. Politics works in the media, of course, but there are entrepreneurs who would also like influence and power," said Bujas.

While mass media may no longer reign supreme in the media landscape as they once did, their influence persists and is surprisingly amplified by technology. This intriguing paradox was the focal point of lectures titled How Data and Artificial Intelligence Shape Today’s DOOH and The Ultimate Mass Media: DOOH Unveiled. Eminent figures in the DOOH industry, including Kai-Marcus Thäsler, a board member of the World Out of Home Organization (WOO), and Denis Gaumondie, a global pioneer in quantifying outdoor digital advertising and retail screens, shared their professional journeys and insights. The underlying sentiment of this year’s “Pušiona 2.0” panel was that while it’s easy to surrender, the true challenge lies in persevering. Successful individuals candidly recounted their less triumphant moments, shedding light on the realities of success. Music, serving as a bridge across generational divides, was a key theme in discussions between musicians Relja Popović and Zembo Latifa, Đorđe Trbović, the co-founder and CEO of IDJ, and Milan Majerović Stilinović of ZAMP. They explored the seemingly vast differences between Baby Boomers, Gen Z, and Millennials. Despite the frequent misunderstanding of trap culture by Baby Boomers, the panel concluded that it has evolved into a phenomenon that unites the Balkans. This underscored the transformative power of music as a catalyst for unity and connection.

Sports aficionados were privy to an engaging One-on-One conversation between Pete Radovich, a multiple Emmy Award winner and Creative Director of CBS Sports, and Damjan Rudež, a famous Croatian basketball player. Their discussion, titled Cracking the American Market: Soccer and Destination Sales, highlighted that “Americans prioritize spectacle over sport, as evidenced by the Super Bowl,” according to Radovich. The duo also unveiled plans for a new edition of the Sunset Sports Media Festival, an initiative that successfully brought international sports, promotion, and showbiz stars to Zadar and significantly boosted Croatia’s appeal in the American market. In the panel discussion Rijeka: The Talk of the Town – A Fresh Perspective, Mayor Marko Filipović and Petar Škarpa, the Director of the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka, underscored the city’s recent transformation. They highlighted the numerous opportunities for infrastructure revitalization and cultural and economic facility developments that have emerged over the years. This includes the introduction of a new cultural district, library, bus station, and nautical marina. These investments have prompted a paradigm shift, morphing Rijeka from an industrial port city into a burgeoning tourist destination. Joined by moderator Nevena Rendeli Vejzović, the Director of Prime Time komunikacije, they also announced the upcoming second edition of the regional Women’s Weekend conference. Slated for March 7-10, 2024, in Rijeka’s new Art District, the event promises to further enhance the city’s evolving profile.

What does the audience on the banks of the Vardar River find amusing, and what tickles the funny bone of those beneath Mount Triglav? Who values wit, and who is content with just humor? These questions were addressed by the most humorous lineup of the Weekend – stand-up comedians Tin Vodopivec, Goran Vinčić, and Peđa Bajović, along with journalist and host Zoran Kesić. Kesić doesn’t believe that his audience is troubled by well-worn nationalist issues, even though they continue to be a prevalent topic in our region. Instead of political satire, he would export our politicians to Europe. The Weekend Media Festival concluded with entertainment until the early hours, featuring the fantastic Dutch-New Zealand band My Baby and RNB Confusion, hosted by DJ Medo and DJ Turk, along with Zembo Latifa. With great music, loads of fun, and socializing, they bid farewell to this year’s Weekend.16.

Photo Marko Lopac

To relive the moments from this year’s Weekend, check out the highlights here. Stay updated with all the latest news by following our official Festival profiles on Facebook Instagram and Linkedin.