Yes, Wirz can: Petra Dreyfus is "Advertiser of the Year" 2019

The title remains in the Wirz Communications executive suite: Petra Dreyfus is the new "Advertiser of the Year". She succeeds her management partner Livio Dainese. The "Egon" statue was presented to her at the Best of Swiss Web Award Night on April 17, 2019 at Samsung Hall Zurich.


Petra Dreyfus is presented with the "Egon" by Anna Kohler, Werbewoche Editor-in-Chief Print and Publishing Director MK/Advertising Week, on stage at the Best of Swiss Web Awards (Photo: hae/Advertising Week).


Thrilling to the end: This year's election was a tough one. With only a few percent lead over David Schärer and Roman Geiser, the Co-CEO of Wirz Communications, Petra Dreyfus, secured the "Egon" statue, which Werbewoche has been awarding annually to an outstanding personality in the Swiss advertising industry for over 40 years now. As in the previous year, the decision on who makes the running in 2019 was again made up of a combination of a jury of experts and online voting, each counting 50 percent. The "Egon" statue was handed over on April 17, 2019 at Zurich's Samsung Hall as part of the Best of Swiss Web Award Night.

A statement for women in the industry

After 2014, with winner Regula Bührer Fecker, the title thus goes to a woman again for the first time. "Finally," some may think. However, the male "dominance" of the award for several years also reflects an industry that has many influential female representatives, but in which the "figureheads" with the megaphone typical of "Egon" are often male. This is now changing. With Petra Dreyfus, the Swiss communications world is getting a face that will make "outsiders" realize that the "Mad Men" days are long numbered and that the entire industry is in the midst of a comprehensive transformation in many respects. "Today, clients and agencies work closely together on campaigns," says Petra Dreyfus. Virtues such as modesty and teamwork are in demand. Dreyfus is far from playing - and wanting to play - the role of a "token woman." She has never let stereotypes and gender issues stop her, but has steadfastly pursued her path, which led her to the top of one of Switzerland's largest agencies in 2017. And the Basel native is convinced that young women in the industry should follow suit. "I would make a statement for all women in the industry: Yes, you can do it too!" she answered in the run-up to the election when asked why she would make a good "Female Advertiser of the Year."

Successful co-model

Dreyfus joined Wirz in 2005 as head of the consulting group, took a seat on the Executive Board three years later as Managing Director, and has been leading the agency as Co-CEO and COO together with Livio Dainese as a team of two since 2017. The co-model works because the two complement each other ideally. "We come up with novel solutions," Dreyfus explains. But he also says it's enriching to run a company as a pair. "This gives us the time to run the company on the one hand, but on the other hand it means we are still actively working on actual jobs and are close to our customers," says the "Advertiser of the Year." Co-managing the business, she adds, is attracting interest - even outside the communications industry. "We receive inquiries about it because this model is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, and other companies are interested in our experience," says the new "Werberin des Jahres."

Marketing in defiance

Dreyfus' affinity for analytical thinking is no coincidence: "I come from a very numbers-driven household," she says. Her father, for example, was financial director at the Swiss Bank Corporation. He had some understanding for business administration, but less for her interest in marketing - a rational discipline that is difficult to understand. "It's probably typical that I chose this particular direction - but I never lost my closeness to numbers," Dreyfus says, laughing. She first moved away from Basel, away from Switzerland, learned languages and got to know the world. She detoured into corporate communications, discovered her passion for brand management and strategy - and a fascination for the work of creative agencies. "Big, super-logical, theoretical derivations and strategies in presentations only fly when you find your way out of theory and into practice. For that, you need the creative leap," she says.

International shaped

After taking two baby breaks, Dreyfus joined Wirz, where he mainly looked after international clients. A formative stroke of luck: "While people in this country were still asking themselves whether they'd rather run a TV or a poster campaign, brands like Pepsi or Mars, which were driven by large, global network agencies, were already concerned at the time with how to multiply messages across a wide variety of channels." Dreyfus learned many things early on that have long been standard practice today. The industry, the market, the opportunities change. What remains constant is Wirz's DNA. "We know how to manage brands," Dreyfus says. The agency can fully leverage this strength in new fields, he said, especially as a strong brand becomes increasingly important in an increasingly globalized world. "We are very far along in terms of networking performance-oriented and brand-supporting campaigns. That's one of the reasons we were able to win so many modern, well-known brands last year."

About the Award:

Werbewoche has been awarding the "Advertiser of the Year" since 1977. Since 2001, the winner has received the "Egon" designed by Zurich artist Max Grüter. The three candidates were nominated by a 15-member jury of experts. The final decision as to who would win the title was then made 50 percent by the readers of Werbewoche via online voting and 50 percent by the jury. Each member of the jury was allowed to cast one vote. As the organizer of the award, Werbewoche itself abstained from voting.

The expert jury:

The "Advertiser of the Year" expert jury is made up of former "Advertisers of the Year", representatives from French-speaking Switzerland, last year's nominees and, for the first time, personalities from science and the media. The 2019 jury members (in alphabetical order): Alexander Jaggy, Thjnk Zurich; Anja Janoschka, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts HSLU; Curdin Janett, Fromage Mauerhofer; Daniel Zuberbühler, Sir Mary; Dennis Lück, Jung von Matt/Limmat; Franz Fischlin, SRF; Gabriel Maron, Havas Genève; Heike Rawitzer, ZHAW; Livio Dainese, Wirz; Michael comb, Agence Trio; Nadine Borter, Contexta; Pascal Deville, Kind regards; Peter Brönnimann, Publicis; Regula Bührer Fecker, Rod Communication; Thomas Wildberger, Publicis; Urs Schneider, media cutter.


More links:

  • The portrait on the nomination of Petra Dreyfus with the Wirz campaigns of the past year and an interview can be found at here.
  • The list of all previous "Advertisers of the Year" and "Advertisers of the Year" can be found at here.
  • Interview with Petra Dreyfus on gender issues in Werbewoche (June 2018) you will find here.

"In the many years she's been in the industry, she's never been stuck in the past for a second. She's always thinking about what's best for the idea, for the campaign and for the company. Every day, around the clock. Always willing to give everyone and everything a chance. Always ready to learn. It's only because of her that Wirz is what it is today," says Co-CEO Livio Dainese in his eulogy.

Wirz for the second time: Petra Dreyfus (in yellow) with her team.

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