"I am just very happy"

The Thjnk agency won the 2022 Creative Ranking with aplomb. In an interview, co-founder Andrea Bison reveals when she hits top form and what it takes to maintain this level of performance.

Andrea Bison is Co-CEO, Chief Operation Officer & Partner at Thjnk Zurich. (Image: zVg.)

m&k: Andrea Bison, congratulations to win the creative ranking 2022. How proud are you?

Andrea Bison: Proud is perhaps the wrong word, it sounds so established. I'm just very happy that so many visible creative impulses regularly come from this agency, which started very modestly as a sublet six years ago. I am also happy with the style we have established over the years. We firmly believe in the one idea that can change everything. Once that's there, it's about breathing life into it. Especially when we can accompany brands holistically on the path from vision to performance, we are at our best. It always fascinates me how brand personalities suddenly emerge from fragments of a briefing that speak to the audience. That motivates me, that's what I get up for every morning. Well okay, before that I spread a few sandwiches for my kids.


What does it take to write this success story?

A lot of passion and persistence. But also asking a lot of questions. There's a funny picture circulating in our agency: We're a bit like Columbo, we always walk in the door and ask one more question that helps us in our work. We try to advise brands, to guide them, to make them better. I think it's generally underestimated how much influence you have in shaping brand communication. There is a lot of differentiation potential there. At the same time, it is overestimated that this can be created in the protected space of market research alone.


The creative ranking is a good reference for the Swiss agency scene. What does your agency use it for?

Creative ranking is one of the rare opportunities to draw a more or less objective comparison in terms of creativity. It's primarily about competition and competitiveness. That's why we participate in creative competitions. We want to remain competitive. For everyone who is interested in our agency brand, new clients and new employees.


Thjnk is surfing on a wave of success: Hard work paired with creative ingenuity. Tell us how this balance comes about.

The balance thing is not an easy question. I think it's a mixture of trust and focus. In our agency, we try to give employees as much leeway as possible, but then we're also always able to focus energy at the decisive moment. Admittedly, finding that sweet spot is not always easy.


Which campaigns have particularly excited you?

Last year, I was thrilled by many of our campaigns. First and foremost, the new appearance for Sunrise. The launch of the new brand in late spring, which was created together with our partner agencies. Then, later in the year, the campaign with the Netflix quotes and, of course, the campaign for Roger Federer's retirement, where the provider name Sunrise was unceremoniously changed to "Thanks Roger". It's great that a customer can make such an idea possible. I'm also thrilled that we get so many great communication opportunities for Ochsner Sport every year, which is something you can only be grateful for as an agency. My highlights were the winter sports campaign with the photographic flashbacks, the World Cup spot in which the head of a snowman becomes a football and makes football the new winter sport, and the Nati winter jersey knitted from merino wool.


And which campaigns have particularly touched you?

I was personally touched by the fact that Credit Suisse, together with the Swiss Football Association, introduced equal premiums for men and women. In the commercial for this, a single woman sings the football anthem "You never walk alone" - it still gives me goosebumps today. And then I'm a person who likes to laugh. Ask my team. That's why I always enjoy watching the Denner dog commercial.


What do you think is poison for creativity?

An agency is a biotope. For the ecosystem to function, it needs food, care and protection. The all-important thing is that the climate is right. This can be the climate in an agency, but also the climate in a company that gives us the assignment. Our task in management is to protect and promote this climate. Then it will also weather a storm.


Creation, consulting, strategy. How does your agency balance this, and what are the focal points?

All points are equally important in our work, so they are equally represented in the management. The management sits at a table in the agency, and this table is in a large room where almost the entire team sits. There are no doors. This makes communication channels short and creates transparency. Even in times of home offices, we have good occupancy in the agency. Simply because everyone notices how efficient this way of working is and how much better the creative energy is. Besides, as an agency we have to maintain cohesion and our culture, otherwise soon nothing will distinguish us from a freelancer consortium. Even the freelancers like to work on site with us. (laughs)


Last but not least: What is your outlook for the year 2023?

We have now reached a size of 34 employees. An ideal size for a unit, as I know from my time at Springer & Jacoby. This size allows us to create nationally visible campaigns, but at the same time still be fully involved in the day-to-day business. For 2023, the focus is on qualitative growth, increasing creativity and customer satisfaction.

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