Head of the week: Swapped

Gordon Nemitz has been making the creative leadership complete again since August as Wirz's new Planning Director.

Dirty Dancing" at work is not his style. Gordon Nemitz is referring to divisional thinking, as played out not only in the well-known movie "This is my dance area. This is yours," but also in many agencies. In a climate of "up to here the strategy - from there the creation", good advertising can rarely emerge. The tradition in which Nemitz prefers to work therefore sees the strategist as a "creative planner". A thinker at the interface of the most diverse disciplines, who can provide "the creative inspirations" in the process of design.
Gordon Nemitz started out in 1996 in Siegen near Cologne with an integrated media degree. "You're sure to find a job in the media field," was the feeling at the time. After initial attempts in the world of printed media, however, he found "that it wasn't enough for the Süddeutsche." So he ventured into advertising and joined Scholz & Friends as an intern in the German advertising stronghold of Hamburg. After five months of training in traditional consulting, Nemitz was already promoted to junior, and instead of six months, he enjoyed more than a year at Scholz & Friends. Nevertheless, consulting was not yet the goal of his dreams. At a small but fine strategy agency called &Equity, the German "planning icon" Dr. Cordula Krüger was working - and that's where Nemitz wanted to go. The agency followed the mission statement "Empirical precision and strategic inspiration" and was very psychologically based in its thinking. For Nemitz, the time at &Equity ultimately became the most important planning school. Despite the fascinating time in practice, however, Nemitz also diligently pursued his studies, graduating with a thesis on "Constructivist Identity Formation of the Individual in the Context of Marketing." In somewhat more mundane terms, this is about "community building and marketing." It was important for Nemitz to always commute between practice and college. "Other fellow students didn't know where they wanted to work until the end of their studies, and only did the mandatory internships," argues Nemitz, who "sowed his wild oats" professionally during his studies because he knew where he wanted to go one day. Parallel to his diploma thesis in Cologne, he also worked as a further diversification in a smaller agency, which is rather "to be settled in the area of communication in the room". Here, Nemitz learned how to get people excited about brands and topics beyond the classic channels.
In 2005, the media business graduate switched back to "classic" strategy and joined Karen Neumann's team at Jung von Matt. The time was intense - Nemitz recalls an assignment for which he worked 76 hours in four days - but also very instructive and successful. After two and a half years at the "flow heater" Jung von Matt, a suitably interesting offer followed as Senior Strategic Planner at TBWA in Düsseldorf.
What Nemitz likes about his world of planning is that, as in chess, you can bring your knowledge of the rules and strategies to bear in ever new constellations of the task. Nemitz doesn't want to approach anything with routine. For example, it was "extremely exciting" for him to develop an international marketing strategy for Bosch household machines at Jung von Matt. "It's a job that doesn't exactly generate a lot of enthusiasm among creative people," he says. But he enjoyed the challenge of researching cooking and eating habits for a wide variety of countries, for example, or around the "psychology of washing," which is different all over the world. Or at TBWA, where his task was to emancipate the consumer electronics brand Medion from its Aldi origins. In all these tasks, the strategist's first priority is to "gain a deep understanding of the brand in the competitive environment on the one hand, and on the other, to always take into account the needs and desires of the consumer" before giving input to the creative work.The new Planning Director at Wirz is not completely unfamiliar with what makes consumers in Switzerland tick. At Jung von Matt, for example, he provided strategic support for the Swiss brand Ricola. But he has also spent a lot of time in Switzerland in the past for private reasons.
Moving abroad from Germany one day had long been a plan for Nemitz. England, as the home of Planning, would have been an option. Switzerland, however, was just as interesting, because in fine-semantic strategy one also works a lot with language. Vienna would have been less enticing to Nemitz. "My experience taught me that the Austrian market works similarly to Germany. In Switzerland, on the other hand, you couldn't simply import the communication measures. This newness appeals to me," Nemitz says.
Because the commitment to Wirz is "not a temporary solution," Nemitz has already taken his own apartment in Zurich's Seefeld. That was a happy swap with an advertiser moving away.
The appointment of Gordon Nemitz is also a "fair swap" for Geri Aebi. Simon Walter, Nemitz's predecessor, moved from Wirz to TBWA Berlin in spring 2007. Now, in a castling move, Gordon Nemitz comes to Zurich from TBWA Düsseldorf. The still young, but already highly traded planner makes the director team at Wirz complete again, after CEO Geri Aebi had to lead the agency for over a year without a planning director. Strategic thinking was nevertheless guaranteed during this time, as Aebi explains in the interview below.
On the day when Nemitz met with Geri Aebi for the final negotiations, the city presented itself from its sunniest side. While strolling by the lake, Nemitz finally came to a decision. That, too, was "an asset of Zurich versus Düsseldorf": cycling along the water. Nemitz, who used to work as a bike courier, already indulged in his hobby and circumnavigated Lake Zurich on his racing bike in just under two hours. "That was still relatively flat. But now come the mountain stages," he says of this achievement. And it also keeps him fit for another climb at Wirz.
Andreas Panzeri

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