"Our motto: quality instead of quantity"

Boutique agency Ruf Lanz has won the 2023 creative ranking. And not by a narrow margin, but with a whopping 399 points. m&k Werbewoche.ch spoke to the happy - and very relaxed - boss Markus Ruf about crises, powder kegs and class instead of quantity.

Markus Ruf, founding partner and co-owner of Ruf Lanz. (Image: zVg.)

Anna Kohler: Markus Ruf, congratulations to first place in the creative ranking. How has Ruf Lanz managed to create such outstanding advertising for more than 20 years and with a small team?

Markus Ruf: It always starts with the realization that nobody has been waiting for our clients' messages. It takes an idea that packages the message in such a surprising way that the audience wants to see it and appreciates it. We put our heart and soul into such ideas. As far as the size of the agency is concerned, we at Ruf Lanz have always adhered to the motto of quality over quantity. We never wanted to do everything, and certainly not at any price. This attitude has kept us as a creative boutique in the top group of the most creative agencies since we were founded in 2001. In 2019, Werbewoche wrote: "This long-term consistency is unique in the history of the rankings." The fact that we now have eight heads are in first place in the creative ranking, ahead of Wirz and Farner, which are around 20 to 30 times largeris of course the crowning glory. And a huge compliment to our customers and our dedicated team.


How did you feel about the year 2023? In relation to the industry, but also in relation to the world in general?

"The world is a powder factory where smoking is not forbidden," Friedrich Dürrenmatt once said. Unfortunately, there was a lot of smoking on our planet in 2023. Due to the large number of simultaneous crises, the state of emergency has almost become permanent. It is significant that the German Language Society has chosen the word "crisis mode" as its word of the year for 2023. In contrast, the fact that our agency has been doing very well, with wonderful work for both long-standing loyal and new clients, is a somewhat frivolous contrast against this backdrop. For 2024, we can definitely only wish the world more creative instead of bellicose madness!

"We never wanted to do everything, and certainly not at any price. This attitude has kept us as a creative boutique in the top group of the most creative agencies since we were founded in 2001."


Ruf Lanz is withdrawing from the award hype from 2024. Why?

Since the first cube at the ADC in 1989, we have received countless awards from all the major festivals. Previously for other good agencies, since 2001 for Ruf Lanz. Welti-Furrer had to weigh them for security reasons when the agency moved three years ago and they weighed 1.5 tons. So our hunger for awards is satisfied. That's why we are grateful to say goodbye to the ADC and many other awards. We will continue to make a name for the good reputation of Swiss advertising and its clients on the international stage, for example with selected works in "Lürzers Archive Best Advertising Worldwide".


But now you are really saying goodbye with a bang ...

The fact that we are saying goodbye to first place after all these years is of course the perfect departure. However, our decision was made independently of this: We already decided this in December 2023.


You have been an ADC member for over 30 years and have been a volunteer on the board and presidium for many years. Do you still remember your first judging?

Yes, I think it was 1992. "Ideas are like sperm. Many are produced, but only very few have a fertilizing effect. And it's precisely these few that we're looking for." That's what Johnny Jost, smoking his pipe as usual, said by way of introduction. As a youngster, I was allowed to work with greats like Reini Weber, Jean Etienne Aebi, Hansjörg Zürcher, Claude Martin and Ruedi Wyler. Unfortunately, there were only two female advertisers in the club at the time: Irène Hiltpold and Ursula Hiestand. Since then, of course, hardly a single ADC stone has been left unturned. But Johnny's phrase has lost none of its validity, as has that of the then ADC President Martin Suter: "The ADC improves advertising by judging it." With this in mind, we wish the ADC many more fruitful juries.

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