CAMPAIGN REPORT IN GERMANY: Germany’s creative hotshops. The efforts of Germany’s top creative shops are starting to pay off as they win over the doubters in the international ad stakes, Richard Cook writes

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 creative standards.

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

creative standards.

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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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



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