Media Marketing Interview of 19 January 2018
Last September, Serviceplan concluded a great deal enabling it to bring in the services of two highly complementary senior profiles to take over the creative reins: Merel Van den Broeck and Naïm Baddich. Four months later, it is time for an initial assessment.
What was it that persuaded you to take over Serviceplan’s creative leadership?
Merel Van den Broeck: Peter (editor’s note: Peter Vande Graveele, CEO) actually first contacted me to tell me that he really wanted me to be Creative Director. He explained why to me at length, and his explanations and reasons won me over. We were on exactly the same wavelength! However, I put the idea to him of having two people take up the challenge, so to also get a “sparring partner” who already had a certain amount of managerial experience. For that reason, I suggested to Peter that he also meet Naïm…
Naïm Baddich: I am caricaturing it, but Peter told us: “Here are the keys, over to you!”. That is just what I wanted to hear. At Publicis, I had reached a point in my career at which I wanted to develop my own vision. Two options were open to me: I would either open my own agency, or I would develop it within a group structure, like DigitasLBi. That’s what I did but, unfortunately, the constraints specific to a network like Publicis held back my approach and, in the end, that prompted me to go down a different path… Finally, the fact that I know Merel very well, who shares my vision, also did a lot to tip the scales.
What exactly is your vision?
MVdB: Above all, we want an agency that makes the most of all its assets, namely, in Serviceplan’s case, all its offices and associated expertise. And above all, under the same roof in the Maison de la Communication, with one guiding principle: “Building Best Brands”, starting with the Serviceplan brand itself.
NB: Our vision is to really move away from traditional advertising patterns and approaches, which are badly outdated. We have summarised it in one sentence: “Destroy boundaries between brands and customers, between advertising and entertainment”.
MVdB: The integration aspect is critical, as is partnership with our clients. Our focus is to carry out effective creative campaigns that build the best possible brands and, if they also win prizes, that wraps things up nicely…
After four months, what is your initial assessment?
MVdB: We are making progress, but we are also not in any hurry. We are taking the time necessary to achieve positive change, in order to arrive at an effective and perfectly functioning end product. Peter and ourselves are in sync on this point. He also prefers to move forward slowly, surely and prudently.
NB: Peter is allowing us to work and move forward in “start-up” mode. He is keen not to be a hindrance, quite the contrary in fact as he gives us the resources and opportunities to manoeuvre very quickly and, at the same time, the freedom to do as we wish. He understands that when you have a vision, you have to create it and take the time to apply it.
MVdB: We have spent these first four months analysing the agency and all its satellites, with which we have of course shared our vision and ambitions. Moreover, we returned creation to being the key focus of what we do, whether internally or with clients. To be honest, it’s done in a very natural way: we are all well aware that creativity is much more than producing campaigns that are seen by everyone. Creativity is above all developing the context in which to do good work that genuinely helps your client…
A final word?
NB: The first Best Brand that we have to build is our own. That requires an enormous amount of work, but also continuous effort. Our new project involves putting together a team that is future-proof. For example, we have just hired a junior creative team that really supports our vision, i.e. people who have an entrepreneurial spirit, who take ownership and see things through to the end. We genuinely want the right people in the right place, with the right attitude, and that does not necessarily mean those who have won a tonne of awards, or who have 20 years’ experience...