The headquarters of Mountains and Hills is unspectacular. An office like many others, simply furnished, a few desks and computers. The fact that much of the advertising agency's work revolves around fashion is only apparent from the fashion magazines lying on various shelves. Actually, the space is unimportant. No one sits in an office all day. Working for M&H means being on the move. On the one hand, commuting between the Zurich headquarters and the branch in New York, and on the other, tracking down trends in the metropolises and drawing inspiration for new concepts from customers.
"Creatives need to travel and see the world. They need to know what's going on out there," Lisa Linder is convinced. Together with Creative Director Sven Kaufmann, with whom she founded M&H three years ago, Linder leads the company's fortunes as a consultant. Linder and Kaufmann have built up a small team around them. This includes a project manager, a photo producer, two graphic designers and art director Jim Kämmerling, who has worked on magazines such as 20 Minuten Friday, GQ and the car manufacturer's magazine Lotus. Otherwise, the agency has an established international network that it can draw on flexibly. Depending on the assignment, depending on the client, M&H puts together a suitable team, brings photographers, ADs, editors, graphic and fashion designers on board.
Ahead of the times
"Fashion is a passion," Linder tells us. "It's exciting to see how early trends are defined." When Linder and her team work on fashion magazines for clients, they deal with collections and looks that won't hit the market until six months later. At all times, the creatives have to have their "finger on the pulse of the trends." Globus, among others, counted on this. M&H has already created 16 customer magazines for the department store. From briefing to conception, creation, editorial, art buying, photo shoots and production, the agency was responsible for the magazine. The Swiss WW magazine also relies on M&H's fashion expertise. An editorial shoot is currently taking place for this magazine in New York.
The strong focus on fashion is also anchored in the professional background of the founders. Kaufmann worked as a fashion designer for Dior, among others. Later, he worked for the artist agency Jed Root, which realizes photo shoots for magazines and advertising campaigns. Linder studied advertising, marketing and communication in Pforzheim, Ba- den-Württemberg, and has been involved with fashion since she started her career. In Germany, she worked for an agency specialising in brand retail and was responsible for premium brands such as Hugo Boss, Baldessarini, Strenesse and Nespresso. The Swiss creative and the consultant met a few years ago when they were involved in international campaigns for the fashion labels Chloe, Hugo Boss, Brioni and s. Oliver together with Donald Schneider, former creative director at French Vogue and currently CD at H&M. Oliver. This collaboration was followed by further joint projects until Linder and Kaufmann finally decided to found an agency. A company with an international orientation with headquarters in Zurich.
While Linder holds down the fort as a consultant primarily in the Limmat city, Creative Director Kaufmann and AD Kämmerling are frequently stationed in the New York office. In addition to daily exchanges via Skype, phone and email, the agency team meets regularly in Zurich or the Big Apple. One of the team is in NYC at least every two weeks. Depending on which projects are currently on the agenda. And why are the headquarters in Zurich? After all, the city is not exactly known as a fashion metropolis. The roots of M&H lie in Switzerland, as Kaufmann and Kämmerling grew up here. Moreover, the Zurich location is very centrally located: "Zurich is not a fashion capital, but it offers a lot in the way of art and traditional industries such as watches and jewelry, which also interest us very much," says Linder. But of course the fascinating thing is also to bring the international here for customers. Thanks to its solid network of contacts, the agency repeatedly succeeds in bringing together Swiss talent and international creatives. For the Globus magazine "Einfach Persönlich", for example, a fashion spread was produced with star photographer Matt Jones, who is otherwise behind the camera for magazines such as iD and Vogue or advertising campaigns for Hugo Boss Orange.
Not only fashion
Although the core competence lies in the fashion sector, clients from other industries also rely on the agency. For a new restaurant in the Hamptons that offers sushi as well as burgers, for example, M&H handled the concept, design and all PR. An advertising campaign was designed for Zurich's luxury hotel Widder, and event branding was conceived and implemented for the champagne brand Veuve Clicquot. "We are not specifically fixated on one style, but try to bring out what is special about a brand ", Linder describes the way of working and thinking. In the campaign for Hotel Widder, the claim "Your place in history" highlighted the hotel's historical tradition. In the event branding for the "Business Woman Award", a business prize organised by Veuve Clicquot, the noble aspect of the brand was emphasised with high-quality paper and a special relief varnish and played through in all communication tools. From the menu cards to the invitations and the entire decoration. Last but not least, the reference list includes work that one would not necessarily expect from M&H. For example, an illustration for the new edition of the Kasperli radio plays. For such a classic, even the trend-conscious agency relies on the old-fashioned. The child-friendly illustration is not only used on CD covers, but was even adapted for the tape Kasettli, which had almost been declared dead. "It's nice to see that they're still around."