Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kurt and Kurt

Yigit and I seem to be running behind with just about every project. We're soon going to have a filmshoot and a photoshoot. And what a coincidence: both the director and the photographer are called Kurt (and no, they're not the same person). That sounds funny, but it's really confusing when you're in the middle of all sorts of pre-production meetings and in the meantime you have to think of new ideas as well.

"Tomorrow our agenda is empty", said Yigit to me when we were in the car to another meeting. But we both knew it won't stay empty for very long. We have to prepair a presentation and in the meantime we'll be bombed with e-mails and questions about the filmshoot/photoshoot.

-"Did you see the casting that Kurt sent you?"
-"Which Kurt?"

From now on I'm going to call them photo-Kurt and film-Kurt.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


On a billboard at Kuerfuerstendamm

A Karl Lagerfeld teddybear at the Steiff store
Friday was a busy day and in the evening I had to take a plane to go to Berlin. I got the train to the airport in the nick of time. There I had to rush to the plane because in the airport of Brussels you have to walk so much that by the time you've reached the right gate you deserve a medal.

I didn't have a lot of rest since I arrived in Berlin, but I didn't go there to get a rest. My good friend Edwin lives in this wonderful city so I went to visit him.

The last time I was in the German capital was a year ago. Every time I'm there it strikes me what an inpiring city this is. The city center is full of original stores and you're confronted with a lot of smart ideas that make people spend more money. One of them: inside a warehouse there was a booth where you can record your own song to participate in a singing competition. It was made especially to promote a new computer game where you have to sing.

A damn cool idea was a co-branding between Steiff and Karl Lagerfeld. The result is a Karl Lagerfeld-teddybear that costs 1000 euro (!). I can't imagine that a sane person would buy it, but it draws everybody's attention to the teddybear store. Another effective campaign was for Ford. They put a promotion team on the street that photographed people. And you have to wait 10 minutes to appear on a Ford-billboard. The attempt to justify the appearance of the people on the street was a bit lame (the line under the billboard was 'In the middle of now. The new Ford Fiesta). But that doesn't really matter because while you're waiting for your picture to appear you're looking at an ad for 10 whole minutes! So far for the 2 second-theory.

I got home totally exhausted and tomorrow morning I have a review at 10.00. Oh well, I can't even remember the last time I had a quiet weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This is not MAS

It's 22.30 now and I just arrived home. I have a nice studio with a lot of space and not a lot of belongings (which is fine because a house with not a lot in it is easy to keep clean). It's in the centre of Antwerpen and close to the Schelde-river. One of the advantages of having a job is that I can finally afford some housing on my own. Sometimes I feel good about that because it's nice and quiet, but sometimes I miss having good friends like Emilia and Salvatore around when I get home.

One of the disadvantages of having a job is that you must actually make money for the company. And to make money for the company you have to make a lot of work that 'has to be done'. In other words, work that is not creative. Yes, even in an agency like Duval you have to make decent advertising sometimes.

The worst is when a campaign starts off like a potential award winner and is slowly turned into a monster of compromises due to feedback from the client or advertising legislation. This week it even happened that one of my advertising campaigns, after weeks of work, isn't even going to made at all. It doesn't even surprise me anymore. In this case you just have to keep on working on other campaigns. And to prevent yourself from going crazy you always have to remember the following: if the client buys your campaign, anything can happen. If the campaign is produced, anything can happen. If the campaign is printed in a magazine and you see it with your own eyes, then...only then you know that it's made.

Oh well, it's not the Miami Ad School where you could easily change the headline if you think it's better. You could even change the client if it fits better with the campaign. Wouldn't that be great if you can switch clients in an agency? An account manager that's on the phone with his client and says: "I'm sorry mister client, but we've found another client that actually fits better with our campaign. Yes...I know you were expecting the campaign but we have to think about the award shows".

Well, I'm back in the real world now. With real clients, real briefings and a studio where I can have a good rest after work and drink a nice whisky cream while writing for my blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Duval Guillaume

It's the tenth month now in Duval Guillaume Brussels and I can tell already that I've made a really good decision going here. I always had the feeling that I'm in the right place, but recently I knew it for sure. The agency is one of the most awarded agencies in Belgium, with awards for creativity and effectivity. It's also considered one of the best agencies in Europe.

But what makes the agency a good place to be is that they're still fighting. No matter how full the award shelves are, with blinking awards in all shapes and sizes, they still aim for better work. And it seems to work. The amount of awards and nominations is going up every year. This year they topped it again, with an impressive 8 pages that describe all the awards and nominations of 2008.

And the account people here are by far the best I've seen in any agency in the world. Creatives and accounts actually work together as a team, with mutual respect for each other's job. So instead of wasting time on arguing about a campaign, everybody is focussing on improving it. The creative directors, Peter and Katrien, have the last word on all the campaigns. But the good thing is, that they would never let a campaign go to a client for the sake of creativity only. If they don't think it's right for the client, your scribble ends up in the trashbin.

Although I'm already 7 years in advertising, I feel that I can still learn a lot. Working at Duval Guillaume gives me constantly the feeling that I'm still not good enough and that actually stimulates me to make better work all the time. I'm a fighter. And the only thing that keeps me motivated is when I compete with the very best.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Return of the blog

Photograph by Pieter Baert

I think that for everything in life there's a right moment...

A new president is about to be elected in the U.S. Today the most important leaders of Europe meet to discuss the financial crisis. Iceland is about to go bankrupt, Belgium is getting closer and closer to be split up in two parts. And our contribution to history is that we're making a billboard for a brand of gift vouchers.

Yes, we're on the verge of a major recession. It's not the first time I've experienced that, but the difference with the moment an airplane flew through the World Trade Center in New York is that this time I'm in the right agency. I've been working at Duval Guillaume Brussels for almost 10 months now and I'm really sure that this agency will only go for uncompromising, creative work that sells big time for their clients.

And in these interesting times I feel that must continue with my personal blog again. Be part of history. Not as a world leader but as somebody who just works in advertising. Advertising creatives are the court jesters of the commercial kingdom. We put masks on struggling companies so it looks like they're still going strong. And why not? People respect it when somebody, despite having problems, is still showing the will to fight and who's still facing the world in a positive way. That must explain why companies who spend more money on advertising during a recession come out of it the best.

So from now on, I will write at least two times a week a post coming from either Brussels, Antwerp or Alkmaar. And for the first time you can see me moving on my blog because I'll post some video's as well. Is it going to be the same as when I was in Miami Ad School? Well, those times will never come back again. But I think that I'm in an agency that gives me enough inspiration for interesting posts and my fingers are itching to write again. The new time seems like a perfect moment to continue my old blog.