Monday, 26 October 2020
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.


In the last 24 hours, 138 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 1,466. Over the past 24 hours unfortunately 2 more people have passed away due to the virus, meaning that the death toll in Croatia from Covid-19 since the pandemic began has reached 300.

There are currently 326 patients are in hospital, of which 24 are on a ventilator.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 17,797 people have been infected, of which 300 have died, a total of 16,031 have recovered, 182 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 8,923 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 328,392 people have been tested, of which 2,233 in the last 24 hours.

The City of Zagreb again saw the largest number of new Covid-19 cases with 61 new cases, followed by the Vukovar-Srijem County with 24 new Covid-19 cases.


support the dubrovnik times

In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, one new case of Covid-19 was recorded in the last 24 hours. This new case is a male person from Dubrovnik (an epidemiological link has been established).

On a positive note 2 people from Dubrovnik have made a full recovery.

There are currently 12 people tested positive for coronavirus hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 14,960 samples have been analysed.

There are 279 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no case of violation of the self-isolation measure has been determined.


support the dubrovnik times

Dubrovnik Airport, very much the gateway to Croatia’s southernmost city, has to say the least had a challenging year. Being in the front line of tourism in the city the airport is usually a hive of activity and over the past decade has seen a constant increase in passengers passing through the airport. Last year was a record year with the 3 million passenger mark missed by a whisker, handling 2.89 passengers. In August alone last year the airport saw over 524,000 passengers from all over the world.

2020 is a long way from those heady days. August this Covid-19 effected year saw only 119,000 using Dubrovnik Airport, and to add more context August 2020 was by far the busiest month.

When the UK took Croatia off the so called “safe corridor” list passenger numbers took a nose dive, and only just under 41,000 passengers were handled. From January to the end of September the airport has dealt with only 306,949 travellers. Over the same period from 2019 the airport had already seen 2.5 million passengers. In fact, looking at the official statistics from the airport five individual months from 2019 had more passengers than the whole of 2020 so far.


Passenger numbers decrease drastically in 2020 - Photo Mark Thomas 

If the rate of passenger numbers continues at the same level for the rest of the year, and the final outcome reaches around 360,000 to 370,00, then the airport will see fewer passengers than 1969 when 456,000 people landed. Apart from the years that were severely affected due to the Homeland War, Dubrovnik Airport is on course to have its worst year since the end of the 1960’s. The Covid-19 pandemic has sent airport passenger numbers back 60 years.

Of course there is justified hope that 2020 is a one off year, the travel industry all over the world has seen catastrophic results. Dubrovnik is not alone, although in Croatian terms it can be said that the city was the worst hit, being so reliant on tourists arriving by plane.


support the dubrovnik times

In the last 24 hours, 258 new cases of Covid-19 virus were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 1,512.

Unfortunately, five more people passed away due to Covid-19 in Croatia in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll in the country to 298.

There are currently 296 people in hospital positive for Covid-19 and 25 people on a ventilator.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 17,659 people have been infected, of which 298 have died. A total of 15,849 people have recovered, 188 of them in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 9,081 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 326,159 people have been tested, of which 4,608 in the last 24 hours.


In the last 24 hours, five new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

These new cases are one male and three females from Dubrovnik (an epidemiological connection has been established for two) and one female person from the borough of Župa (an epidemiological connection has been established).

Eight people have made a full recovery - four from Dubrovnik, two from Metković, one from Ploče and one from Ston.

11 people tested positive for coronavirus are currently hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 14,906 samples have been analysed.

There are 289 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no case of violation of the self-isolation measure has been determined.


The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was clearly moved by the historic Old City of Dubrovnik during his one-day visit on Friday. And as many of the top politicians in the US he took to Twitter to write his impressions. After visiting Dubrovnik, where he met with Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, and Foreign Minister, Gordan Grlić Radman, the US Secretary of State filled his Twitter account.

“What a step back in time. I enjoyed a walk along Dubrovnik's famous Stradun with Foreign Minister Grlić Radman. Thank you for showing me the history and future potential of this beautiful city” wrote Pompeo.

And quickly followed this with “What a view. A wonderful lunch by the sea in Dubrovnik, where the historic Republic of Dubrovnik was one of the first countries to recognize the young United States about 240 years ago. Our partnership remains as strong as ever.”


support the dubrovnik times

Dubrovnik once again has a Game of Thrones feel as one of the actors from the hit HBO serial is back in Dubrovnik to film a new movie.

Pedro Pascal, the Chilean-American actor, known for his role as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones arrived in Dubrovnik yesterday for the new project together with American actor Nicholas Cage. Pascal, who also starred in the Netflix biographical crime series Narcos, is shooting the film “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.”

Nicholas Cage will play himself in the upcoming movie, which is set to be released in the spring of 2021.


support the dubrovnik times

The growth of product placements in movies has been outstanding in the last 10 years. With growth rates doubling year upon year in the form of revenues, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that helps brands get in touch with specific target demographics. Brand integration and product placement are firmly established marketing tactics that are used by at least 89% of Fortune 100 companies. Year 2020 be remembered first by global pandemic. All business segments have stagnated. All you could read in the media was the new Covid world wide situation. cancelled Cancelled flight, events, bad economic trend … this was all you are reading these days. New beginning is a chance for a fresh start, these are the words our interlocutor Morana Petričević starts this interview. Petričević, founder of many projects in Croatia, after 15 years of international wine career in management and marketing she has recently became part of Sphots team.

Few months back you mentioned that you are working on a global project in the movie industry. At that time you only gave me a small hint, a name Sphots and that we will be hearing about it in very near future.

Yes, it was during lockdown. My collaboration with Sphots came very spontaneously. I got an inquiry from CEO of Sphots, Nadiya Bezhnar who was forming a team. Inquiry was more directed towards my collaboration with Vantguard group from Spain where I was listed as contact for this part of Europe. After a few emails exchange and one zoom meeting, she scheduled one more meeting together with her international partner. My ex boyfriend is European movie director so I have quite a widequite wide knowledge of the industry. This and other business aspects have made it easy for us to want to collaborate more widely. In a week her HR team contacted me and signed a contract.

What is Sphots and who is behind the name ?

Sphots is a company established beginning of the year. It's main focus is virtual product placement (VPP) in international movies. It's CEO Nadiya Bezhnar has wide knowledge in marketing and IT. Till this day SPHOTS has signed multi contracts with companies from the whole world from the movie production and distribution sector. Traditional product placement is a quite well known marketing tool that global brands have been using for years not only in movies but also in other forms of visual content. SPHOTS offers a new way of the process that is more accessible and affordable for the smaller brands. Our business model allows brands to feature the products for a price that can be compared to a printed leaflets campaign, or a paid ad campaign in a magazine. But with SPHOTS, Your Brand gains long-term wide exposure either locally, or on the targeted territories in the international movie that will be circulated for numerous years. With virtual product placement, we eliminate traditional logistical hustle. Our top-level VFX and CGI team recreate your brand look and message it seamlessly into the film. It is affordable, simple, prestigious, targeted.

How does VPP works ?

VFX technology allows a product to be „drawn“ into the scenes and showcased on selected territory of the film distribution. Take for instance Croatian coffee brand, Franck. If your main market is Croatia then it is logical to choose for your brand to be shown only locally. But if you plan to expand ( export or franchise ) to let's say Germany and would like to increase consumer perception on that market, you can buy a spot for that market as well, without paying for the rest of the world like in traditional product placement. To be very brief VPP offers for your brand to be in an international movie that will be shown on your local/target market, and where we will see a Lead Character drinking let's say Franck coffee while in England he will enjoy Starbucks.


Morana Petričević

Why choose to pay for virtual product placement and what are theirs advantages ?

There is one simple goal - that moviegoers (or movieViewers) will see the product in the movie, remember it, and then choose to purchase it. The prospective consumer is positively influenced by the brand, without overtly noticing the advertising of that brand. Product placement is a long-term marketing tool, which can be an alternative to traditional advertising in print or “TV”. It also can work as a good supplement to digital marketing tools, some of which are short-term and can easily be blocked, skipped, or clicked by the wrong audience. VPP is much more effective because of the ability to direct the relevant marketing message (or show interaction), to the selected audience group on the right territory.Statistics on existing product placement cases show about a 20% increase in brand. Higher brand recognition will benefit business to immediate and/or long-run sales. It's not one-time exposure. As long as the movie is circulated, viewers will be interacting with the brands in it. It's a long-term reach that traditional marketing and advertising doesn't provide. During whole process of production the client will be given all the updates that can be used for marketing purposes. Average price for VPP for Croatian market is about 1000 USD.

How to measure the ROI ( Return on investment ) from Virtual Product Placement?

If you compare product placement with other forms of advertising, you should always take all parameters and dimensions into account. But there is no accurate approach and calculations can be misleading at the end. That's why it is advisable to consider product placement as a complementary component of the marketing mix and not directly compareing it with traditional marketing activities. Before the movie is distributed it's difficult to give an accurate number of TMV (Total Media Value), a traditional impression-based metric. With our distribution agreements the movie will be broadcasted at least on one of the public (Free TV) channels on the target territory. That varies in different countries which in many cases can cover about 50% of the TV audience. Though, the real number of viewers can be extensively higher due to the multiple runs on different platforms (we will aim for the widest possible distribution).

In how many countries does SPHOTS offers it's services, why form a company now and what is your role in company?

Sphots operates in 60 countries worldwide. It is global team of professionals that helps local brands to do targeted placement of their products in international movies. I am in charge of Croatian market but also working on global develpment strategy with Nadiya. Why form company now … it sounds very brave. But as I say, this is a new chance for a fresh start. It is always easier to except positive changes rather thaen to adjust to uncertain new reality. I have learned during last few years we need to approach constructively always looking good that can be achieved from it. Yes there were a lot's of tears, anger, shocks but there is not point in feeling bad about what we had. We had it good. Maybe even too good, ignoring simple life values. We got a chance to slow down, think about many things and move forward. Now is a time to give maximum. We are here to help with reconstruction of businesses, to help local brands accomplish leading positions on their markets. We are giving opportunity for some local sparkling wine producer from Plešivica to be in an international movie for affordable rate instead of the global Champagne brand. I would say this is a very smart marketing approach for any Croatian brand. In a year of science and technologytechology, with all the changes around us, marketing and it's investment in it needs to be significantly different.

For more info please do to or contact directly This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">


support the dubrovnik times

The Voice of Dubrovnik


Find us on Facebook