Andrea Bison: "Many opportunities to open up a new world for us"

Andrea Bison, Co-CEO, CCO and Partner at Thjnk Zurich, has once again been nominated as "Advertiser of the Year" for her outstanding achievements in 2023. In an interview with m&k, she shares her recipes for success, reveals strategies behind award-winning campaigns and talks about the opportunities for the advertising industry.

Andrea Bison, head of consulting and co-founder of Thjnk, nominated for "Advertiser of the Year" 2024.

m&k Andrea Bison, congratulations on your nomination! Your achievements have led to you being nominated three times already. How do you manage this continuity?

Andrea Bison: I am driven by a love of creativity and a passion for my job - clear goals and high quality standards are my daily companions. Of course, it's also hard work. And in the end, hopefully the luck of the brave comes into play.


Her agency Thjnk has won the prestigious 2023 Account of the airline Swiss won. With which "method" did you motivate your team to achieve this top performance?

Pitches are a special discipline where a lot has to come together and fit. The prerequisites for us are clear pitch rules, the right mindset and the best team for the job. A self-critical view of the entire process keeps us alert, and having fun - despite the pressure and tension - provides the necessary energy. And the prospect of a great customer helps to release additional energy.


"Greatly reduced" from Denner was named Campaign of the Year at the Swiss Out of Home Awards. How did this creative idea come about and how did you contribute to it?

In my opinion, a good consulting team makes an essential contribution when it comes to good ideas. Before every idea, there is a briefing that inspires. And proposal communication is one of the most challenging disciplines when you have high creative standards. And once an idea is on the table, you need a team to see it through to the end. From a creative point of view, we literally simply translated Denner's reduced prices into very reduced image motifs.


You emphasize courage and gut feeling when creating campaigns. Could you give us an example from last year where this approach was particularly effective and led to an outstanding result?

In addition to good research and strategic thinking, the search for a strong thought and a good insight is also about feeling whether we are right. And in the entire process of creative development and idea evaluation, a good gut feeling is one of the most powerful talents and skills for me. Then often comes the moment when courage is needed.


Do you have any examples of this?

For the Denner commercial with the singing ladies we sensed that after the geographical proximity - with baby and dogs - in times of inflation and rising prices, the topic of value for money is on the pulse of the times. And we staged it boldly and unseen. The Migros "Animonials with the animated wild animals are a second example: the idea came about because we followed our instincts and abandoned the typical farmyard romanticism in order to establish Migros Bio as an independent brand. It took courage to decide and implement that animals explain the benefits - good for the environment and good for me. Both campaigns needed a flair for content, but also the courage to implement them in this way.

How do you explain to your children what you do as an advertiser?

I don't have to explain what I do to my children. They come across the campaigns for our clients such as Ochsner Sport, Edelweiss or Sunrise every day. Our campaigns are sometimes even discussed at school and among friends. So I have one of the most demanding juries at home. And you can see that: I'm working on the next generation.


What changes have you noticed in the advertising industry since your first nomination as "Advertiser:in of the Year"?

Personally, I have the impression of feeling a new appreciation and recognition of our industry. Perhaps also as a result of the pandemic, in which the effectiveness and power of communication was felt on a large scale. The pandemic has undoubtedly left many traces. The way we work has changed and brought a range of new topics and issues onto the agenda. And although budgets are recovering, they are not yet back to their previous level overall. We can therefore be all the happier about the development of our agency: Having started out as a team of two seven years ago, we have now grown to a team of almost 40 employees.


Looking to the future of advertising, what changes do you expect to see in the coming years - and how is your agency preparing for this?

We are in the midst of the industrialization of the creative industry. Driven by Generative AI, we will go through the biggest transformation we have all experienced. Every day, I am overwhelmed by the scale and fascinated by the new possibilities. Of course, I am also overwhelmed by the task of finding solutions to the many unresolved issues. In addition to the unanswered questions, I also see many opportunities for us in the creative sector to transcend the usual boundaries and open up a new world that enriches our work.


How is this already being expressed?

With my creative partner and loved managing director Mieke Haase, who shares her Instagram @miekehasseai and their Page- and a Fire-One-While we have already become a pioneer in this field, we are driving our vision forward with great passion. The first core elements are the establishment of our AI studio for commissioned work and our AI engine "Raiin", which we are developing for image creation at the highest level.


How do you foster an environment within your agency that supports creativity and innovation?

We create a safe space in which free thinking and working at eye level are the top priority. We all share a passion for ideas and creativity and admire and encourage everyone's talent. Our philosophy is that creativity is not just reserved for creation. Everything can be creative: The customer consultation, the strategy, the processes, the selling of ideas.


How do you incorporate important topics such as sustainability and inclusion into your advertising?

We have our own program for our Green Standards, which we are constantly working on. In terms of our work for our customers, we have created Thjnk Green, a service for sustainability issues. With regard to inclusion, we have set up diversity circles for various communities in the agency group, which we use for checks or bring in as experts, and we work with external communities.


In addition to professional success, you also emphasize the importance of a good working atmosphere in an agency. In your opinion, what are the key factors for such a working environment and how do you personally contribute to it?

An agency is a biotope. For the ecosystem to function, it needs food, care and protection. The most important thing is that the climate is right. This can be the climate in an agency, but also the climate in a company that commissions us. Our job as managers is to protect and promote this climate. Then people can rise above themselves and great things can happen. And then it can weather a storm.


As "Advertiser of the Year", you would be the represent the Swiss advertising industry to the outside world. How would you like to contribute to conveying a positive image of the industry - and what would be your core concern that you would like to convey to the outside world?

I have been a consultant in creative agencies for over 20 years. It's easy to tell that I'm a big fan of our industry. With our agency, we want to be a role model for talented people of all kinds - and attract people to the inspiring and creative environment. We want to encourage the next generation to want to experience the diversity and variety of our industry and show the great potential for personal development. Another core concern is to jointly recognize and make positive use of the opportunities that Generative AI offers our industry. True to our motto: Welcome to a journey that none of us have booked!


If you had to turn your agency Thjnk into a music genre, what would it be and why?

Thjnk is more like a festival. We invite large groups of people to participate, we appeal to different target groups and interests, we entertain, touch and can sometimes polarize. And in the end, we will hopefully be remembered.

About Andrea Bison

Andrea Bison, founder and CO-CEO of the award-winning advertising agency Thjnk Zurich, has been nominated for the title of "Advertiser of the Year" for the fourth time. With her agency, which topped the creative rankings in 2022, she won the prestigious account for the airline Swiss in 2023 and won the Swiss Out of Home Award as Campaign of the Year with her "Stark reduziert" campaign for Denner. Courage and gut feeling are key components for her when creating campaigns. In addition to numerous awards such as the Edi.23 Gold for Migros Bio and an ADC Silver Cube for Ochsner Sport, her focus is on qualitative growth and customer satisfaction. Bison considers creativity to be essential for the flourishing "biotope" of an agency and actively promotes a positive working environment. Despite recognition through awards, innovation and transformation of the agency and the advertising industry as a whole remains of paramount importance to them.

Selected works

Thjnk wins the main prize "Campaign of the Year" at the Swiss Out of Home Awards with the Denner campaign "Stark reduziert".
With the Wool Jerseys for Ochsner Sport, Thjnk Zurich won silver at the ADC Awards 2023.

The "Animonials" for Migros Bio. The CGI video series earned Thjnk Zurich a golden Edi.

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