Rod Kommunikation: 15 questions for the 15-year anniversary

The Rod Kommunikation agency is celebrating its fifteenth birthday: Werbewoche.ch met partners Regula Bührer Fecker and David Schärer as well as managing director Pablo Koerfer for an anniversary interview and asked 15 questions - one for each year of agency work.

Rod Kommunikation
Rod celebrates its anniversary: Regula Bührer Fecker, David Schärer and Pablo Koerfer look back on 15 years together with Werbewoche.ch.

1st Happy Birthday! For the fact that Rod is already celebrating its 15th birthday as an agency, your work has remained remarkably fresh. What is the "creative secret" behind this?

Pablo Koerfer: Thank you for the flowers. Since our founding, we have consistently focused our work on our target groups. Because they are constantly changing, perhaps the work also remains fresh?

 

2 Let's look back together: How do you remember the beginnings of Rod - was it a good, wild, especially challenging time? What do you think back to most often?

Regula Bührer Fecker: It was a very good time. We were a small, tight-knit group, worked a lot, laughed a lot and had lunch together almost every day at Bederhof, the pub around the corner from us. Ikea, Sanitas and 20 minutes were our launch customers and kept us on our toes right from the start. Without them and their trust in us, Rod would probably not exist today.

 

3. Regula Bührer Fecker has been "Advertiser:in of the Year" twice with Rod, and David Schärer once. Does Rod have a culture that makes the agency a WdJ hotbed?

Koerfer: Regi as a full-blooded strategist and David as a PR specialist are neither the classic "advertisers of the year. Before them, mostly creatives or agency managers were awarded. The fact that Regi and David were awarded as specialists proves how relevant advertising strategy and PR / Amplification have become in recent years.

 

4. when you joined forces with Farner in 2019, a murmur went through the Swiss communications industry: some feared the combined expertise, others complained about increasing consolidation in the market. How have the three years since the start of the "partnership in independence" with Farner been for you?

Koerfer: We didn't have that much time to deal with ourselves, because shortly after the merger came Corona, the BAG-Corona mandate, and with it, in terms of communications, the biggest challenge we've ever had to deal with. We were able to access many of Farner's specialists on client projects - that made life easier. We have retained and continue to cultivate our own identity, the location, the customers.

 

5 You have become valued experts in campaigns in times of crisis: For the FOPH, you raised awareness in Switzerland for protective measures and covid rules during the pandemic. What "key learnings" did you draw from this activity - and has your agency changed as a result?

David Schärer: The mood of the population changed constantly as the pandemic progressed. We had to develop campaigns in real time that met people's current communication needs. This real-time campaigning meant that we worked very closely with the FOPH team for months, as a "One Team". This interlocked work was extremely constructive and instructive.

 

Many agencies complain about an increasing lack of courage on the part of their clients. The paradox was recently described to me as follows: "Something 'new' is constantly being created ... but it has already worked three times! Do you also observe this phenomenon? What can you do about it?

Schärer: Fortunately, we rarely experience this paradox. But if you have really created something completely new, you simply need good arguments so that the customer feels comfortable with innovations and experiments.

 

If you could change one circumstance, one fact, one circumstance within the Swiss communications industry to your liking - what would it be?

Fecker: My personal watchout is that the appreciation of film and photo productions in Switzerland has been suffering massively for some time. It has become normal that for a fraction of former budgets today the multiple has to be produced. And these pictures, films etc. should then stand out in an oversaturated advertising landscape and reach visually overstimulated people. This calculation doesn't add up. I think that too often, money is saved in the wrong place, and that has become the norm. I don't want this to be understood as nostalgic whining, but you simply can't get excellence at a bargain price.

 

The talent market in Switzerland is considered to be almost dry. How do you get the next generation of advertisers to use their skills for Rod, of all things?

Koerfer: "If you can't take a joke, you can get out of my house" is written on a poster in my office. We have a special and very active team culture: friendly and amicable, so many people immediately feel at home at Rod and stay for a long time.

 

9. what are the prerequisites of Rod's customers with whom cooperation works best?

Schärer: It may sound simple, but it's true: We have the best customer relationships with customers who challenge us creatively and trust us that we only want the best for them and the task at hand. It shouldn't be a struggle and a spasm. It should be challenging and fun to deliver the best.

 

10 More and more small and medium-sized agencies are disappearing from the market. Can you still be successful at all without a network or a "big partner" behind you?

Koerfer: The market has been in motion for a long time, and consolidation around three or four agency groups in Switzerland took place a long time ago. Anyone who wants to cover the entire value chain needs a certain size. But there are so many small and micro agencies successfully serving their clients that I think it's fair to say: There is room for both.

 

Is Swiss advertising international enough - and can our country even be the starting point for global campaigns?

Fecker: Absolutely. We have smart, creative people, can offer the highest quality, and know how to think about an idea beyond language barriers. That makes Switzerland competitive when it comes to global campaigns.

 

When you look at the work of international colleagues - at awards ceremonies, in agency ratings, in the media: Which idea of the past years would you really have liked to have had yourself?

Schärer: There is no one idea. I find it extremely exciting that purpose-driven marketing is experiencing an absolute moment. There are many creative examples of this, especially internationally. Because we are also following this movement at Rod, I find these cases the most exciting.

 

13 Cannes Lions was held live again for the first time this year; however, one believed to feel a certain "fatigue" on site. Will the industry's attitude to awards change fundamentally?

Schärer: We all come out of one pandemic tired and are already being challenged by the next one. I feel that this is a bit of an emotional stop-and-go situation. I find it understandable that this was also felt in Cannes. Nothing is "normal" in 2022. I still believe it's important for the creative industries to come together to compete and learn from each other.

 

Assuming you were allowed to choose one for global expansion: Which country markets do you find most exciting for the communications industry right now?

Koerfer: I'm interested in Korea because the level of digitization is simply impressive. But maybe the interest also has to do with my daughters' taste in music.

Schärer: I have always had a soft spot for good design and am fascinated by Lisbon, San Sebastian, Biarritz and Bordeaux. Cities by the sea attract exciting people, which makes for creatively fascinating biotopes.

 

I would like to close with a question or a book title by the lyricist Howard Luck Gossage: Can advertising still be saved?

Fecker: Oh, dear. If advertising were dead, I'd wonder why we're all so busy.

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