Friday, March 30

No headline, no way.

A few days ago I had an interesting conversation to someone. Then suddenly after talking about my life and work at the agency and about the distance learning programme I am currently doing (or not doing), this person said: "You're a person who always plays safe, right?" Woo. You are so wrong. I just don't like surprises and therefore think about the possibilities to come before doing something. Oh, wait. Maybe this person is right.

While still thinking about this I stumbled across this post by total stranger and "iMate" Marcus. You are so right. I am 25. And I have nothing to be angry about. I started to work in advertising when I was 20. Straight after finishing school I went to a small ad agency and then to Germany's leading copywriting school, Texterschmiede. After joining Leagas Delaney and then later TBWA I work at Kolle Rebbe for nearly 4 years now. Shot some commercials, went from junior to mid-level, won some awards and stuff. Privately I have found a wonderful woman that I would call "love for life". And I live in one of the nice parts of Hamburg. It's called Eppendorf and you might compare it to Notting Hill (without the prices). My life is somehow a comfort zone. Nothing to complain about. Happy. Nothing to fight for. Everything is fine. But probably this is the point why I am unsatisfied. Everything is okay. But what does okay mean? Nice, medium sized, fine. Not very bad, not very good. For me okay might be the most unsatisfying word. At our school we used to say that okay is the little brother of shit. And it is. I am not happy. Because (that's what I think) when you are a creative okay is nothing but mediocreness. To put this right: This feeling mostly applies to the limitations and borders that are set for my work. This okay does not include Meike. She is great. And I truely and deeply love here. But back to work. I love my agency. But wait. I love most of the people. I don't like the rules. Tidy up the room. No pictures on walls, nothing on your desk except your MacBook and the phone and maybe some briefs. How is a creative person supposed to work in an environment like that? And furthermore I maybe a bit tired of always pushing our creative directors to not always present the "safe" ideas. I had some key moment a few weeks back. I was working late and at 2 am changed the whole presentation because I was not satisfied. I was supposed to present the work so I thought that I have to like it nevermind what my creative directors might think. On the next day I presented to the client. It was great. They said it was the best presentation they ever saw from my agency. The reaction of my creative directors? Angry. But what should they say? "Hey we left agency before the presentation was finished and then this kid came along, changed everything, put stuff into the presentation we never saw and then made the client happy like never before!?" Probably not.
I know that maybe I could have fallen (is this grammatically correct?) on my butt. Nonetheless my brain felt better for it. So back to the general situation. After thinking about all this stuff I remembered this video on the website of Wieden+Kennedy. And Ademar is so right.

That's why I promised to myself that I will leave my comfort zone. Jobwise. Once a wise man said "Do one thing every day that scares you." And that's nearly what I will do. I will stop to wait for my dreams to knock on my door. I will ram their door or at least ring their bell. What door? I will tell you. Don't laugh. Since my second week in advertising my aim was to one day work for Wieden+Kennedy in Amsterdam. So why didn't you send your portfolio there and see what they will say, you might ask. An awarded person can't be that bad in what he's doing, right? Right. But I was afraid. It's like asking the most wonderful girl at school if she would like to go out with the president of the chess club (or something like that). But now I am angry (thanks, Marcus). No, I am unsatisfied. And dissatisfaction, not money, is what makes the world go round. And while some may say that I am stupid to think about probably leaving a well-paid job in one of the top agencies in Germany for maybe an internship at some agencies in London or maybe for a trainee job at WK Amsterdam, I just can say: I am 25 and have the right to do stupid things. Or at least on thing a day that scares me.

And believe me, I am scared. Afraid of the big fat "NO!" out of the mouth of some people I deeply respect and would like to work with. But I've got nothing to loose. Because the thing that's most important in my life is this one human being that I love (Hello, Meike). That's a thing I said to Marcus. Unsatisfaction can settle free all the energy you'll need to change things. But it can't recharge its batteries. So let's change something and see what time may bring. Maybe I end up staying in Hamburg but trying to make this place THE place and maybe change will happen. Updates, anyone?

Oh, here is one of the text I think might fit on this:
"I work, I wonder, get things done yet take my losses, too. I kill my darlings, kiss some asses, tell a lie (but not to you). I move the mountain, I cross the ocean. I throw the dice, cut the crap, confront. I sharpen edges. I curse, I claim, I rock the cradle, thrive. I scream. Of love, of fear, of joy. I excel, exclaim, exhale. Maybe get more wrinkles, more grey hair, perhaps take a diet.....and fail. I question answers, change the odds, at times I ride the tide. I break the rules and bite the dust. Mouth open wide. I beat the drum, I blow your horn, or - who knows - ring your bell. I stir the fire, I make great waves, shoot horses, stars as well. I random order, unchain hearts, I think big fish of you. I want, create, believe, persist and fail. I get up, I dream, I wish and do."

What do you think. Does this make sense? Or am I just stupid? Feel free to comment. And: Thanks for the attention.

This whole thing somehow got it's own blog now. It's called "This is getting scary" and you can find it here.
More stuff about scare and Wieden+Kennedy on THIS blog you can find here, here, here, here and here.

Thursday, March 29

Off to Switzerland.

I am going to Zurich over my long weekend to visit my mate Hannes (if you like search the comments for "Hannonymous" or something like that, but in general every improper comment is from Hannes). So the next post, if there will be a post, will be from Switzerland. Perhaps I finally will post that life- or at least mind-changing thing I am talking about for some time when mentioning Marcus and that person I can't mention here. When there is no post on Saturday or Sunday, Lauren, could you please kick my backside (like you did for that Culture Jamming post). Thanks for your attention. I will bring cheese and chocolate. What a nice combination.

Wednesday, March 28

Dead spot, dead good.

I've just got a call from someone to my phone at the office. That someone told me that another someone desperately tried to call me on my mobile and was freaking out because "everybody checks mailboxes every day". No. Not me. Because I don't have my mobile with me. Forgot it. And I am fine with that. I don't like the fact that people think I should be available at any time on my mobile. Why should I? If it's that important write an email, SMS or twitter or something. I'll check that.

Be sure that it's not because I don't like you or disrespect you. No. But just because my favourite TV show or magazine or newspaper is interrupted by advertising that doesn't mean that it can be interrupted by incoming phone calls as well. One's enough. Honest. But this time it was just because I simply forgot my phone. I had my PowerBook with me because I need it for working stuff, you know. I had my iPod with me because I like my way to work accompanied with some fine music. I had my keys with me because I need them to lock the door. I even had some cigarettes with me because from time to time I like to enjoy a smoke. I definitely had my wallet with me because I need my ticket for the underground and some money to buy food and the newspaper. But I didn't had my mobile with me because I don't need it to survive my day. Because it's not that important for me to get calls from whoever feels like talking to me. The ones that are important have my office number (though a bunch of unimportants have it as well). My mobile remained unanswered yesterday. And will remain untouched today. Two days off for my mobile to recharge batteries. Two days off for me to recover from being available at any time.

Monday, March 26

Seb became beatsteaked.

Today I was angry. Very angry for it was very early. The reason was pretty dumb: I forgot to set my iTunes back from UK to Germany and because of this mistake wasn't able to purchase the new and yet old beatsteaks track "Jane Became Insane". Now, two hours and probably 56 times "Jane Became Insane" later, I am jumping around in the office. Happy and insane. And for all those unhappy and un-insane customers of the iTunes Store UK here are the beatsteaks. With some "NaNaNaNaNa" that will leave the Kaizer Chiefs crying like a whole kindergarten.

Thursday, March 22

APSotW: Kick Starbucks' Backside.

Some weeks ago Russell set up a new assignment for the Account Planning School of the Web which I occassionally join in (as long as it's not a too big amount of work). Currently I am thinking about a thing that someone I can't mention here and Marcus' latest post made me think about. Will post about that later. It's a question of life changing things so let me think a bit. That's why I only will post the charts for APSotW and maybe later add some links to classmates. And, please, don't be too critical because it was done on a 2 hour train ride from Berlin to Hamburg. And by the way: the competitor I took is Balzac Coffee und you can find them here. Thanks for the attention.

Wednesday, March 21

Which way to go(ogle)?

There is a brilliant post on Rob's blog about Google being the new Microsoft which turns out to be a general rumble about Google. Here is the quick link to the post, it's worth spending some minutes of your lifetime on it.

Monday, March 19


Nina, my small and lovely art directress, is not at the office. Because of working on the weekend she missed her flight to London on sunday but managed to rebook it to this morning at around 6 am. As always when she's not at the agency I am in a bad mood and slightly bored. No one can say "Oehmchen!", this wonderful misspelling and defigurement of my surname, in a sweeter voice than her. And nobody is allowed by the way.
Therefore, people from London, if you see a very small girl scuffing down Oxford Street today it might be Nina. Say hello and give her a nudge. And just in case you're not from London visit her blog and kick her backside in the comment section for being to lazy to do her first real post (you may also use this comment thing to leave some words of admiration for the sweet blog title, must have been the idea of a smart copywriter...).


Friday, March 16

Give a Shout for the Robocop Kraut.

Here is some support for the start of your weekend (or the last hours of your birthday, Dan). A brilliant band from - you won't believe it - Germany. And the best about The Robocop Kraus is that they don't sound like a band you would expect to come from over here. So Franz Ferdinand, Killers: You'll better be prepared. The Robocops are to come. And yes, you independent music lovers out there, I know they are called "Kraus" and not "Kraut" but it made the rhyme rhyme well. And yes the video is from 2005, but it's still great.

Dear Mr. Chief of the Freshly Squeezed Happy Fruit Bunch.

My xing thingy some days ago told me that today is your birthday. Hopefully you were honest while filling out the form and xing is right. Anyway I thought it would be nice to post some words of warmness. And maybe you, lovely reader of this blog, have a minute to leave some nice words of congratulation in the comments pop up as well. But now let's raise our slightly chilled innocent drink to the Shakespeare of the strawberry smoothie, the master of the lychee limerick, the ruler of the raspberry rhyme. Dan, I am glad to have met you, blogwise, thanks to some posting about Canon Cable Chaos. And I hope to meet you soon to have a nice coffee or beer and chatting'n'stuff. Because you're a really nice person. And because noone puns a peach like you do. So if you, fellow reader out there, see a bearded man loping down a London lane today, raise your hand in some sort of Black Power clenched fist salute and shout "Happy Birthday, Dan!" Maybe the man turns around and salutes back while smiling. Or visit Dan's blog and say hello.
So once again congratulations, Dan. All the best to you, your future, your daughter, wife, dog and fruits. And be sure my wishes are as healthy and innocent as the smoothie in your hand.
Happy Birthday, Dan.

Thursday, March 15

The Brand Selection Sneaker.

Just a weird idea: What if people could buy a blank sneaker in various ways of style and then could choose the brand they want to appear on it? The more people choose your brand the higher your brands price will be. But that's not all. Besides established brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma everybody can create their own brand, giving it a peculiar look and then post it to the public. Wouldn't it be interesting to see if Nike and Adidas can defend their reign against the Mr. and Mrs. Everybody brands? No? Does this make sense? Somehow? The Brand Selection Sneaker.

Monday, March 12

My twitter is ill.

Tried to update my twitter. It didn't work. Neither on the net nor via mobile. Things like this usually make me angry. So a grumpy Seb clicked around on his twitter-thing and went mad using swearwords and stuff. But then a small yellow area sprang to my eyes.

Isn't that sweet? From 100 to 0 in about one second. My twitter is ill. This message turns some stupid binary codes into a good friend. It's nice and friendly. And above all: human. That's why Microsoft Windows always will be an unfriendly binary code. Wonder if Apple could find some nicer words for Macs as well. Like "Nap" instead of "Standby" or "Say goodbye" instead of "Quit". Anyway that twitter message perhaps turns me into someone actually reading their newsletter. I never read that email some lovely person at twitter kept to send in unsteady intervals. But after noticing this message I think I'll probably read the next one. Definitely. Maybe.

Thursday, March 8

Culture Jamming and stuff.

This was supposed to be a post about culture jamming. But in a very early status of figuring out what to write I realised how diversified the area of culture jamming - offline and online - is and how single-minded my view on culture jamming is. It's the view of someone who works in advertising. So all the stuff following will mainly be influenced by this point of view. The common explanation on Wikipedia describes it as

"the act of transforming existing mass media to produce commentary about itself, using the original medium's communication method."

From the examples Wikipedia gives I took two in order to find a differentiation between two ways of offline culture jamming. The first is Nikeground which represents the artist's way to interpret brands and their communication in order to make people think about the part that brands take over in our daily life. For example, the artists behind Nikeground designed a branded outfit for cities, based on the idea "You wear it, why shouldn't cities wear it too?" Here you can see the Karlsplatz in Vienna that was "dressed up" with Nike boxes and renamed "Nikeplatz".
A very subliminal and intelligent way that should make people think about brands taking over every part of our life. But on the other hand a very elitist thing as well. Though it's a intelligent effort, it acts the same way as brand communication does: it's an uninvited guest appearing in your daily life trying to communicate a message.

It's a tricky thing. And I am not sure if this act of culture jamming wouldn't become an aim for another way of culture jamming: the people's way or the direct way. You have seen it a million times in form of commenting tags on advertising billboards. The Bubble Project took it one step ahead. In the form of bubble stickes like the one above it encouraged people to leave their comment on billboards and advertisements. Not a lot of people would tag a billboard. But with a bubble on it...why not? To spread the message of the bubble, their website offers bubble templates of different sizes and a documentation that later was pubilshed as a book. This book featured pictures of jammed billboards around the world. Political comments, sexual comments, social criticism and commedy - it's amazing to see how diversified the stuff people wrote into the bubbles was. While going through all these pictures you may find that all comments follow one rule: They only appear on advertisements of brands that seem to be not true or have a "dark side". Ever seen criticism on brands like innocent, american apparel or howies? Probably not. But as soon as you are McDonalds, you get culture jammed a hundred times a day with films like "Supersize me" or with spec ads like this one: The positive point is that via culture jamming and it's success the people are able to force brands to think different. More and more the consumers seem to discover that they have the power to change the way brands act. And in the course of time more and more brands notice this fact as well. That's probably why more and more FMCG companies seem to somehow try everything to jump on the train to Sustainable Consumer Goods.

Okay, so more and more brands try to be good brands in order to receive consumer's appreciation. That's it with their products. But what about their advertising? Most of the big companies only seem to follow one rule: the more, the better.

"Let's forget about the message, we have prepared some USPs here. But the most important thing is, that it's everywhere. Cut that 45 second TVCs into three 15 seconds TVCs. More media power, more channels, more messages. Advertise everywhere!

Do you remember the time when there were no pop-ups in the internet? It was wonderful, wasn't it? It was okay that our favourite TV show was interrupted by ads as long as they were nicely done and not as long as the programme. It was like this: But since this time (I am telling nothing that really suprises you, am I?) the picture changed to this:
Or in the words of Banksy:"Billboards are like having millionares throw rocks at your head. You never asked to see them, they invade your life and make you feel inadequate."
More and more the mainly mindless messages of most advertisements have become the real graffiti problem of cities as the Anti-Advertising Agency and the Graffiti Research Lab point out with the following culture jamming titled:
Here's the film:
Brands should learn more from the opinion of their consumers. Advertising should evolve from the uninvited guest that tries to hammer brand stuff into your head to the uninvited guest that surprises you with a nice story or image. Don't get me wrong: I am not one of those people desperately trying to turn advertising into some sort of art. And I fully agree that advertising is pointless if it doesn't sell. But I think the growth of culture jamming in the cities and in the internet shows the consumer's wish to not to be taken for a fool. And I deeply believe that only good ideas consenquentially will result positive perception of the advertised brands. The problem of people disliking or just ignoring advertising is a home made one. Most ads lost the ability to be interesting, imaginative and original. That's why nobody is listening, why nobody will know what it has to say and why nobody will believe in it. Therefore what applies to products also has to apply to the advertising. It must be entertaining and intelligent. Interacting but not obtruding. Emotional but not mindless. And above all: interesting and true. It's not enough to just be there. And there are some brilliant examples for advertising fits that aim. The Dove campaign. It's not a creative masterpiece but it hit the heart of the consumer. Or the Honda work in the UK. They are not everywhere, but when they appear they are clever and entertaining. The same applies to the new Coca Cola films "Happiness factory" and "Video Game". So advertising must turn into advertainment to be relevant to the people out there again.

Before finishing this post here is a nice example for a brand using culture jamming for its advertising. Some time ago adidas installed white billboards with the outlines of adicolor sneakers to encourage passers by to tag them and design their own one. Nice idea, isn't it? By the way most of the pictures and information are taken from the lovely Wooster Collective. If you're interested in street art and culture jamming visit their website. It's worth it.
Did all of this make sense? Because after reading this post again I guess most of you already knew the stuff I was writing about and figuring out. Maybe a hundred people before me thought out the same things in a far more brilliant way. But it was nice to think about this stuff while writing it down. And hey, I am 25, a young gun who likes to have a think but without a lack of the experience brilliant people like Russell or Richard have. Nonetheless I hope there were some interesting aspects in there for some of you. The last words belong to SACRUM:
Friends may use it. Open source.


adidas just did it.

Actually I thought that Adidas couldn't beat the worldcup campaign "+10". Simplicity, great film and brilliant ideas in every medium. But then Adidas and I guess mainly 180° prooved me wrong. Nothing is impossible. Not just the name of the new campaign but a statement that even great work can be bettered. Okay, the idea "let athletes tell stories that fit to our claim" was done by NIKE again and again. But adidas managed to not only tell the story of one or two athletes but of 12 sportsmen and women from different sports, mixing professionals with amateurs. Furthermore the execution is really good, the illustration style is sweet and combined with the emotional stories behind not only athletes like David Beckham but as well the junior soccer team of St Margaret makes it just brilliant. On the campaign's website there is even more to find. Beside the "works of art" that were down by the athletes and that will tour Europe in an exhibition you find games, behind the scenes stuff and the usual downloadable stuff. All things considered it's a very well done campaign with a wide use of channels. Congratulations adidas and 180° / TBWA. A nice side dish: the website offers quick and easy embed-function to bloggers who want to show one or two of the films on their blog. And that's what I am going to do now. Here are my four favourites:


Wednesday, March 7

The Jon Spencer Blues Rediscovery.

While writing down headlines, copy and two posts I rediscovered a great band that was (and now again is) one of my favourites: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Some time ago they left out the "Jon Spencer" to be only the "Blues Explosion" what made me miss their last gig in Hamburg. I think on the website of Matador Records you can download some of their old tracks. Believe me, their music is worth a short trip to their website. Chef's suggestion: "Kawasaki Z117 50 Rock'n'Roll" and "Talk about the Blues". The video of TATB featured Winona Ryder as Jon Spencer and you can see it here:

And here are Russell, Judah and Jon as they will welcome you on their website:

Friday, March 2

Presentation = Working night.

So, here we are. It's early in the morning and all the stuff for the presentation is done. This will be somehow my first real presentation. Not the first "first one" because I was allowed to present to our clients very early. After approximately one and a half year in job (Is that early?). But today will be my first presentation without any backing up by my creative director. Just me, the client and Merle, our lovely account manager. I guess I am too tired to be nervous. But it's a different feeling. Maybe that's why I'm still in the agency going through the stuff and replacing bits and pieces. I want everything to be perfect, leaving a happy face on the clients and my face. So let's see what happens. I am on my way home to have a shower and then will head to the station to get my train. Hope everybody who reads this will keep his or her fingers crossed for me.

Working night.