Germany has never been the natural home of creative excellence in
advertising. The fact that only two of its agencies have captured gold
lions at Cannes this decade bears eloquent testimony to this. But then
Germany could reasonably claim to have been consistently undervalued in
terms of its creative output. Historically, the problem has been that
multinational clients have tended to be English speaking and happiest
dealing with an English-speaking agency, while the local clients have
favoured effectiveness, sometimes to the detriment of the highest
It’s a double whammy - on the one hand German agencies’ international
reputations have, of necessity, been quite limited and, on the other,
their home-market clients have a reputation for conservatism. But it’s
also a situation that is changing fast, not least by the likes of Scholz
& Friends’ successful introduction to the UK market.
The quality and diversity of German creativity may still struggle to
overcome international juries’ prejudices but the efforts of the top ten
agencies in the table below, and of the likes of up-and-coming shops
such as Kolle Rebbe and Graffiti - both of which would comfortably make
any top 20 list - are finally starting to win over the doubters.
An honourable mention must go to BBDO in Dusseldorf, which performed
well in one influential survey among clients of advertising creativity -
finishing fourth - despite being the largest agency in terms of
billings. It seldom has quite the same fortune in awards, however, even
if it is back in the top ten this year after languishing around 14th
place last time.
GERMANY’S TOP CREATIVE AGENCIES
Rank/agency Cannes x 10 ADC Germany x 5
G S B Sh G S B Sh
1 Jung von Matt 10 48 48 104 98
2 Springer & Jacoby 10 24 32 32 80
3 Scholz & Friends 60 24 32 8 24
4 Ogilvy & Mather 10 32 16 44
5 Martin Conrad &
Leo Burnett 48 12
6 AP Lintas 16 16 20
7= Start Advertising 10 16 8 18
7= KNSK/BBDO 16 8 28
9 Heye & Partners 16 16 16
10 BBDO 8 4
Rank/agency Die Klappe x 2 Total
G S B Sh
1 Jung von Matt 12 24 8 18 370
2 Springer & Jacoby 8 4 10 200
3 Scholz & Friends 148
4 Ogilvy & Mather 4 106
5 Martin Conrad &
Leo Burnett 2 62
6 AP Lintas 4 56
7= Start Advertising 52
7= KNSK/BBDO 52
9 Heye & Partners 2 50
10 BBDO 12
Key: G Gold = 6 points, S Silver = 4 points, B Bronze = 2 points, Sh
Shortlist = 1 point
Source: Festivals, Agencies, werben & verkaufen. Based on performances
at Cannes, ADC Germany, Die Klappe Advertising Awards.
JUNG VON MATT
The Hamburg hotshop has retained its place at the top of Germany’s
creative pile for a second straight year, having occupied the number two
position for the two years before that. Its continued creative success
is no longer a surprise to a German advertising industry that has
watched with undisguised admiration and no little envy as this agency,
founded as recently as 1991, has helped redefine German creative
standards. In fact, it hasn’t really looked back from the moment when
the former Springer & Jacoby stars, Holger Jung, his Swiss partner,
Jean-Remy von Matt, and the creative director, Deneke von Weltzien,
branched out on their own.
They acquired a former corset factory in a rather salubrious area of
town as their headquarters, erected the now famous 14-foot high Trojan
horse in the lobby, and have since watched billings grow to around DM182
million and staff numbers swell to 150. The horse is there to remind
staff and clients of the company’s mission statement that ’Good
advertising is desire and cunning. It has an attractive exterior,
resembles a gift and delights the heart. But inside, the hard-hitting
core is consistently aimed at a specific target.’
From the beginning, the agency has fought shy of being dismissed merely
as a triumph of style over content - after all, it started out in
conservative Hamburg. The agency has now established an Efficiency Team
whose sole function is to supervise how well the advertising is working.
It monitors effectiveness as tightly as possible.
Clients who subscribe to this approach include Audi (resigned last month
for BMW), Minolta, Benson & Hedges, the Mey underwear range and the
Sparkasse financial services group. The agency’s work for Audi was a
perennial awards favourite and did not disappoint this year - the ’days
gone by’ execution, for example, captured a gold at the Die Klappe
Awards while ’maharadscha’ picked up a silver and was the agency’s sole
shortlisted contender at the Cannes press and poster awards. But Cannes
has not been a happy hunting ground for German agencies as a whole
during the 90s: in fact, only Jung von Matt and McCann-Erickson have
picked up gold awards during the decade.
SCHOLZ & FRIENDS
Scholz & Friends is quietly building an international reputation for
creative excellence. It is doing so, at least this year, from its newer
Berlin office, whose work has overtaken that of the Scholz’s Hamburg
office in terms of its popularity with international advertising awards
Part of the reason for this success is down to a single client, the
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s top-selling, most
venerable and most archly conservative newspapers, which boasts a daily
circulation of around 400,000.
Scholz & Friends picked up the FAZ account after a fiercely competitive
pitch three years ago and, since then, has produced ads that have got
the paper talked about in a way that has not happened for a couple of
decades. There is a good reason for this - the Scholz & Friends
campaign, garlanded last month at the Berlin Art Directors’ Awards,
deliberately harks back to the paper’s former glories.
The press work features a selection of celebrities reading the paper in
a variety of locations. The trick is that the celebrities are
deliberately obscured by the paper they are reading, their identity made
known only by small print in the copy below. The slogan says that people
know the newspaper but never the person reading it.
The Scholz chief executive officer, Peter Schoning, admits the work
deliberately reflects an award-winning campaign the paper ran 40 years
ago, but the way it has been updated has appealed to awards juries
around the world.
One execution pictures the German conductor of New York’s Met orchestra
with the Chrysler building. It was the most awarded German ad last year,
picking up gongs at Cannes and at the German ADC awards, beating Audi
into second place and Mercedes to third. Other award-winning clients
include West cigarettes, Deutsche Telekom and BMW (which has since moved
to Jung von Matt).
The agency is trying to transfer this kind of creative excellence into
Germany’s first agency network. It is represented in 11 European
countries and covers Asia Pacific from an office in Singapore and with
help from its partner Batey Advertising’s six offices in the region.
SPRINGER & JACOBY
Displaced as the number one creative shop in Germany by its own
breakaway, Jung von Matt, Springer & Jacoby remains a classy creative
act. Despite trailing its cross-town cousin in terms of awards, Springer
& Jacoby remains securely planted at the top of most lists that look at
best overall agency.
One such, commissioned by the German trade title, werben & verkaufen and
carried out by Nielsen Research, interviewed 300 of the top client
decision-makers about who they considered to be the best agency in
Germany. Jung von Matt and Springer & Jacoby accounted for three
quarters of the entire vote, with S&J picking up more than 42 per cent.
The third placed agency, BBDO in Dusseldorf, secured 19 per cent of the
vote. In the same survey, S&J narrowly pipped Jung von Matt to the title
of Germany’s most creative agency. In this category the two Hamburg
shops accounted for 60 per cent of the total vote. When third placed
Scholz & Friends was included, the three Hamburg hotshops accounted for
three-quarters of the total vote.
S&J’s creative reputation is not hurt by an enviable list of
forward-thinking clients, headed by Mercedes-Benz and that nonpareil of
creative free thought, Levi’s. However, it’s only gold so far in 1998
has come from another source entirely. S&J picked up a gold at this
month’s ADC awards in Germany for its arresting image promoting the
attractions of a local skating school. Other memorable campaigns of the
past 12 months include the Cannes finalist for Amnesty International and
a Levi’s brand-value offering.
The well-balanced agency management structure is led by the creative
head, Andre Kemper, the financial brains, Laus Holtshausen, and the
account man, Manfred Schuller.
OGILVY & MATHER
Consistently among the best of the network agency groups, Ogilvy &
Mather has given the Hamburg-based hotshops, Springer & Jacoby and Jung
von Matt, a run for their money in each of the past four years. Four
executive creative directors - Delle Krause, Bernd Lange, Dietmar
Reinhard and Gregor Seitz - handle an impressive range of clients.
These range from the multinationals, Nestle, Kraft Jacobs Suchard and
Kodak, through local giants such as the Hannen brewery and Osram
lightbulbs, all the way to smaller concerns such as the Scottish Tourist
Board and the SWF charity mass-media campaign against violence.
Award winners include the Marc O’Polo campaign. This fashion company for
upmarket casual wear has the crucial brand positioning of being ’the
natural choice’ - natural fabrics are used for the clothes and the idea
behind the advertising is to show how they fit in with people who have a
natural attitude. The campaign takes quotes from biology textbooks about
animal behaviour and puts them over contemporary fashion pictures to
produce an intriguing juxtaposition.
More famous is a trade campaign for the magazine, RTV, called
’nosepicker’, which shows a sour-faced old woman picking the nose of an
equally glum looking old man with the slogan: ’In some places you have
to go to great lengths to make sure you’re seen. With us it’s easier.’
It was aimed at media buyers and advertisers. Although the SWF TV work
was most successful with the international juries, picking up a gold at
Kinsale and being chosen as a finalist at Cannes, in Germany, the
best-loved O&M work is the campaign for Osram lightbulbs which shows
wolves howling at one of the new Osram bulbs instead of the moon.
AP LINTAS FRANKFURT
The traditional home of Lintas in Germany is Hamburg, but it is this
medium-sized Frankfurt subsidiary that is making the creative
It is a 60-strong agency with billings of more than DM100 million, and
has been completely restructured under the executive creative director,
Julian Michalski. ’The agency has been very successful under his
leadership,’ the client services director, Dick Davies, says. ’He has
restructured the creative department, found new and better talent and
created an atmosphere and a will to beat the norm of German advertising
The agency has created so successful a niche that it has been rewarded
by Lintas Worldwide by the creation of a management board of four
shareholder-partners who have a brief to further develop the agency’s
distinct creative positioning. ’The agency believes strongly in the need
to explore and address the total brand experience,’ is how Davies sums
up the agency’s creative philosophy.
On the management board are Michalski and Davies, the former founder
partner of DDB Frankfurt, the managing director, Klaus Flettner,
formerly the chief executive of DDB Germany, while Richard Laurence, the
former creative director at Y&R Frankfurt, has joined to assist
Michalski on the agency’s creative output.
Clients include Rover Germany, Johnson & Johnson’s Penaten baby care,
Nestle chocolate products, UD/IDV with Asbach Uralt, 1822 Sparkasse
Frankfurt savings bank and Air France. In the past year the agency has
picked up 33 major awards and commendations, including two at last
year’s ADC Awards for different executions in its enduring Land Rover