Advertising Week: What made you decide to leave the Omnicom network?
Nico Ammann (N.A): We ran Heimat from day one as if we owned the agency. The Heimat founders and the TBWA network trusted us with every decision. The freedom to do what we thought was right was always very important to us. And this freedom was more and more restricted by Omnicom in the last months.
Where exactly did you notice these limitations?
N/A Specifically, we would have had to relocate our site. This influenced our decision for the management buyout.
Simon deer (S.R): In international networks, there are many things that simply don't make sense as a standardized rule for the individual agencies. Of course, in a constellation like this, especially when things become more and more complicated and less comprehensible, you sometimes wonder what the fuss is about or why you should put up with it.
Simon Rehsche, what makes you different from Nico Ammann?
S.R: I think I'm more chaotic, flattish and impulsive than Nico. Overall, however, we are of a similar ilk, I think. We don't complement each other with stark contrasts, but often think alike.
Nico, what connects you with Simon on a professional level?
N.AIt is the trust that has grown over the years. Especially when we disagree on something, we take each other's opinion very seriously. We've learned that it pays to understand the other person's point of view and to find a solution that excites us both. When we are both convinced of an idea, it is usually a very good one. However, if only one is convinced, the idea is often not groundbreaking either.
Is there an anecdote about how you guys work together?
S.R: Nico gave me this gift card to start the agency with the inscription: "You're right, but we'll do it the way I want." The visual of the postcard shows a middle finger.
N.ASimon has not redeemed the voucher to date. This worries me.
Not in the buyout either?
N.A: No, we both agreed.
What gets your goat?
N.A: Missed opportunities!
What triggers feelings of happiness?
S.R: When you're excited about an idea as a team and everyone perceives it as something new and exciting. This moment of discovery has something intoxicating, driving. Sometimes it makes foam come out of your ears. Greener.
Now you have decided to change your name, which you are publicizing here at werbewoche.ch for the first time: "new."
N.AAfter the takeover, it quickly became clear to both of us that we wanted to make visible and tangible changes. True to the motto "If new, then really new."
How long did the name search take?
S.RWe went to the Maldives for seven weeks. We rented an island, just like you do.
How did the idea for the name come about?
S.R: The adjective "new" appears in most descriptions of our ambitions. This pattern led to an intense moment of realization at some point in our discovery process.
And what will be new at the agency now?
S.R: We are not founding a new agency, but rather rebranding our brand identity to focus more on the brand promise made with the new name. We want to make some things new or more consistent, but many things remain the same. First and foremost, the most important thing: our team, which is the strongest in our agency's history.
What message are you sending with the new design?
N.AThe design is consistent, loud and in tune with the times. It does not have to convey a message, but should transport how we think and how we work.
So especially for those who can not see the writing now: The name is in lower case, with a dot at the end.S.R: When our logo is placed in a context, it always gets a context. Our logo stickers placed on an old mattress trigger something. Context is a valuable tool for communication, so we really like this dimension of our new name.
It will be interesting to see the reactions of your most important stakeholders to the name. But how did they, for example customers, react to your management buyout?
N.A: The reactions were exclusively positive. Our customers have congratulated us and rejoiced with us. Over the years, we have earned and deserved their trust. It gives pleasure and pride that they now also take this step with us.
And how did the employees react?
S.R: Also exclusively positive.
What does the implementation of the name "new" look like in your way of working?
N.A: We will certainly not do everything new and different from now on. New is not just a program, but an attitude. We carry with us the claim to continuously think in a new way and will do our utmost to live up to this in the future.
S.R: The core of our agency brand, whether as Heimat Zürich or now as "neu", has always been the search for strategically and creatively new platforms that bring fresh perspectives to brands and categories. With "neu" we now express this in the name as well.
What is your focus? How do you position yourselves?
N.A: Our focus is the combination of surprising and intelligent strategy with creative and consistent implementation. This is the core of our performance.
What does strategy mean in today's advertising context?
S.RThere is no good advertising without a good strategy, that is a law of nature. In the past, strategy was probably more often implicitly part of ideas. Today, a strategy must ask more questions and answer them explicitly. Things like campaign architectures or the identification of potential for target group-specific activations are gaining in importance.
How do you form partnerships for other services such as media or other areas required to implement or distribute your creations?
N.A: Our partnerships start first and foremost with our customers. Often they already have partnerships with media agencies, which then become our partners. We actively observe and participate in the changes in the industry, especially in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Where do you find inspiration?
N.A: I don't necessarily find my inspiration in advertising, rather in life itself - in travel, in art or in everyday life with family and friends. In short, inspiration comes from life for me.
S.R: Im also in everyday life, like in traffic or waiting situations. There all the time situations arise in which people react emotionally to things. To abstract what happens there inspires me.
Is there a specific work such as an opera, film or book that has particularly inspired you?
N.A: I was most inspired by the hip-hop movement in my youth. Creativity in all its facets, that appealed to me.
How do you see the advertising industry in Switzerland?
N.A: Relatively tame.
S.R: The informal, the nice people, I still think it's very cool. In terms of output, a lot of it is repetition, boring. Our industry today is more influenced by the zeitgeist than it is challenging it and helping to shape it.
How do you explain that?
N.A: That's a complex question. On the one hand, we as a country sometimes tend to settle for average. This is also evident in sports, where we sometimes celebrate a 1-1 draw like a victory. On the other hand, the advertising industry has become less attractive to creative talent. It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract top talent to our industry.
S.RThe standing of agencies has certainly been better. Even though our industry never tires of emphasizing that we advise clients much more broadly than just in communications, the world today is supposedly being changed in other places. Perhaps the "only" in my sentence above is exactly the problem. Creative communication is not an "only" but an "even": people see things subjectively, and communication can always reshape that view. There's nothing more awesome than that.
What is your appeal to advertisers to improve this situation?
N.A: Our customers want good advertising. So it's not the customers, at least not ours. Time management plays more of a role. It's often because time pressure means that results don't turn out as good as they could.
S.R: I think loyalty, a culture of dealing constructively with mistakes, trust are important aspects, but also courage to do things differently from the last project. But I see the responsibility more on the agency side and less on the client side. If agencies become stronger again, more courageous, more polarizing with their proposals, their work will also become more convincing again.
Are agencies like you still needed?
N.A: We are ambitious and love what we do. This is the basis for good work that delivers results and works.
How do you see the future of advertising agencies?
S.R: It is becoming increasingly difficult to say what an advertising agency even is and what it does. The opportunities to use creativity in new ways are becoming greater for agencies. Therefore: the future for agencies will certainly be exciting.
Finally, a wish from you, Nico, to Simon?
That we continue to work together as successfully as we have in the past.
And you, Simon, a wish for Nico?
His Leica. I wished for his Leica.