On our first full day in Berlin, Alex and I took a large group of design students to visit M&C Saatchi - with 22 offices worldwide, the biggest independent advertising agency in the world. The visit was very kindly arranged by Viktorija Kravkova, an Art Director at the agency and one of our former students who graduated from the HND course in 2012. Viktorija previously worked at Landor in Hamburg before joining M&C Saatchi Berlin in February 2014.
The visit kicked off with an hour-long talk in the meeting room by Björn Bremer, the Chief Creative Director (who also teaches advertising at the University of Berlin). He talked a little bit about the history of the company, and gave the group an overview of the client roster, which includes massive brands like Coca Cola, BASF, Siemens and Bayer Leverkusen.
Sample goodies from Saatchi's recent work.
Just waiting for the Creative Director to arrive.
To introduce the sort of work M&C Saatchi produces, Björn played a showreel video of the agency's Euro Effie Gold award-winning 'Nothing Compares to Havana' campaign for another big brand, Havana Club. This campaign was rolled out globally across 35 markets and exemplifies the creative approach that the agency is famous for - brutal simplicity - and reflects their commercial ethos that "the work is nothing until it goes out the door".
Björn also discussed creativity, the realities of working with clients, and gave out five pieces of excellent advice -
1. Make Mistakes.
2. Have An Idol - seek inspiration from your heroes or idols.
3. Photoshop Sucks - the software is just a set of tools, start with the idea.
4. Don't Covet Your Ideas - share them, kill them, accept criticism.
5. Work Harder - you have to put in the hours to get good at what you do.
On the final point, Bjorn referred to Malcolm Gladwell's book 'Outliers' which describes the '10,000 hours rule' for mastering any discipline.
A short Q&A followed which gave the group an insight into how to plan their careers, where to look for work, why presenting work is so important, the pitfalls of research (including the short story slide shown below), and how students should (and should not) present their portfolios and any speculative communication to an agency.
The limits of design research.
Finally, we got a short tour of the offices, which are located on Münzstrasse in the Mitte district, a mere 10 minute walk from our hotel and set across two floors, with the 40-strong creative team on the upper floor. Huge thanks to Viktorija, Björn and all at M&C Saatchi for an immensely inspiring start to the study week.
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