How many children do you have?
I have two children, a girl and a boy. They are 23 and 20.
Wow. Already so big! You held up well. Did you cook the porridge yourself back then?
The porridge? (Looks up and thinks.) Yes, I did too.
Have you ever pretended to sleep at night when the kids were little?
Honestly, I was the one who got to sleep a lot at night. We went to bed very late then. I was living in Basel at the time and had to get up at six o'clock and travel to Zurich - so I was spared the night shifts.
But sometimes I woke up suddenly at night and checked to see if everything was fine. I was afraid of sudden infant death.
Would you say that you are a good father?
Hesitate... that's insanely difficult to answer as to whether I'm a good father. I hope so. I have to ask my kids.
Why haven't you asked yourself that before?
I do not know that either. Maybe because I'm afraid of a reaction. If the answer were "Yes, but...".
As a father, do you sometimes have a bad conscience?
Not really. I always try to do the best I can.
Yes, but. However, I once canceled the summer holidays because of a job.
Was it worth it?
No, in retrospect it wasn't. At the time I had the feeling that there was no way out for me. We had just founded the agency back then. It was a huge opportunity for us and the project was very complicated.
What kind of assignment was that?
A project for Google.
And your family?
They went to Tuscany together and I got stuck here during a rainy summer. That's something I still think about sometimes. At the time, there seemed no alternative to me.
Would you do that again today?
No, today I would be much more relaxed as far as professional demands are concerned, but I am also in a different phase of life today.
I was a very young father, I took on this responsibility at the age of 23. At that time I was bursting with self-confidence, today I would have more respect for this task.
How do you deal with the mental load?
What is that?
Journalist puts her hands in front of her face. Google that please.
OK. Should I now?
Ah, mental stress, just say that.
Yes, but in relation to children, work, and the whole micro and macro organization. I'll give you an example: Have you filled your children's advent calendar?
Just that would be such a task. Pack 24 small things times two in small bags in good time.
Aaah, now I know what you mean. Yes, this advent I had the calendar for my godchild ready on December 5th. Not until December 5th. That's embarrassing.
Did you wear support tights during pregnancy, and if so, which brand?
No, unfortunately, I never wore them. Didn't even know brands existed.
They're all awfully tight anyway. And otherwise: Fogal or Falcon?
Um, I say falcon, I think it's more functional.
Haven't you ever done a pantyhose campaign?
No, only for Agent Provocateur, but I don't think that counts as tights.
Let's stay right on this topic. do you wear lingerie?
Functional underwear also looks good.
So special underwear? (journalist grins.)
No, functional (grins too, but remains persistent).
At your age, do you notice how you are slowly becoming invisible to the opposite sex?
Is just the way. I got through the midlife crisis.
How was it?
One notices that one is no longer quite young and not yet quite old. That was difficult and also painful. You have to be careful not to lose yourself.
What do you mean, lose yourself?
I had to make sure that I could cope with this phase of my life, to reflect on what makes me who I am. It was quite a serious process.
What makes you special?
(Thinks...looks into the corner...) I think... (long silence) I'm a risk-taker, not a coward, reasonably generous, and... enthusiastic.
Where are your problem areas?
Chest, abdomen, and hairline.
(Journalist looks at him scrutinizingly and stops at the receding hairline... both laugh a little embarrassed.)
Your tip for aging?
Surround yourself with younger people.
Also. Both, men too.
Doesn't that make you feel even older?
No, it keeps me from always talking about the past, it forces me to deal with the issues that are relevant now and not to find everything that younger people do stupid. This is how you hopefully overcome the inner white old man.
You're Advertiser of the Year, congratulations. Do you think you deserve this as a man?
No, not in my capacity as a man.
Then what did you get the title for?
It took me a couple of tries, I was nominated four times, I suppose it was for the overall entrepreneurial and creative accomplishments over the past 14 years as an advertiser. And probably because of the COVID campaign, that was definitely the deciding factor.
But after all, you have a whole team around you that works for you.
Absolutely, that's what I said to the team: unfortunately it's not called advertising team of the year. I was particularly exposed to the outside world with the campaign, which is probably why it worked this time.
What do you actually do all day as an advertiser?
Video calls, that's what I do the most, then I think up things and write them down.
Where do you get your best ideas, in the bathtub?
No, talking to other people.
A bit à la Thomas Mann.
How do you mean?
He recorded a lot of his experiences almost 1:1 in his books.
As a working technique, I can totally understand that. For me, creativity arises in ping pong, I depend on receiving input that I can absorb and develop.
I'm certainly not creative in a relaxed state, I need stress, exchange, and deadlines.
What has been your favorite campaign so far?
There isn't one, it's like asking who is your favorite child. I was a huge admirer of the Stop Aids campaign as a teenager. It is important to me that we have been able to accompany this campaign since 2014.
At the BAG you seem to be the chief recruiter?
No, that's not me, we won the tender for the Love Life campaign back then. Love Life and COVID are the only two that come out of our house.
But the other campaigns certainly don't have that much budget.
I don't know that.
What is the budget for these campaigns?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the expenditure for all sub-campaigns on the rules of conduct and hygiene as well as for vaccination has been around 29.5 million francs. The federal government invests around CHF 2 million annually in the LOVE LIFE campaign. However, this campaign has been suspended for the past two years. The vast majority, around three-quarters of the budget, goes into media impact.
What's your secret as an advertiser? Good connections? Your sex appeal?
No, it's definitely not either, it's not that much use anyway, you have to look for and find new partners for every topic, no two tasks are the same.
Ultimately, I think my secret as an advertiser is my fearlessness.
Many women do not feel addressed by advertising. For what reason?
The vast majority of people say they are not impressionable - could that be something that is specific to women? But yes, it can of course be the case that products are largely designed by men and so is advertising.
So that speaks for mixed teams.
Yes, I believe in that. And not just in relation to gender, but to teams of people with completely different experiences.
What's it like being a man with only women in a room?
That doesn't happen all that often. I was once at a meeting for a cosmetic brand campaign and I was the only man. All participants received a white goodie bag and I, as a man, received a black one with products that had a slightly tart scent. "The Lord gets something, too," they said. It felt strange to be treated so differently. But it was nice, at least they thought of me.
Yes, at least. Women sometimes get ties. Do you lead with feeling?
What does that mean for you?
A lot to do with intuition, I prefer to work with people I really enjoy spending time with.
When it comes to hiring, I often make decisions based on gut feeling, and these are not always people with the most polished CVs. That has worked for me.
Your method is extremely prone to biases.
Extremely, that's true, but so far I've done well with it.
Is your hair dyed?
No, but as a teenager, my hair was always dyed.
Red with royal blue tips.
Reference to your home canton of Basel?
No, it was an aesthetic decision, I had a mohawk, I was a punk back then.
Why were you punk?
I was extremely impressed by these guys with their flippant appearance.
Why? did you grow up so well?
No, that just appealed to me.
So you were a father and punk?
No, that ended with my time at the design school, so optically.
But are you still a punk at heart?
Yes, somehow it stays.
What is it that makes it stand out?
I think it's the pleasure in the provocation.
What do you look for in your clothes, do you have a signature look?
No, I don't have a signature look, but I have to be careful not to buy too much in navy blue, because I have to mix something, for example with gray and dark green.
Isn't that very revolutionary?
No, these are the classic, muted, bourgeois colors.
Is that you now: classic, bourgeois, covered?
Left or right bourgeois?
A saturated left-liberal bourgeois.
A Cüpli socialist.
Yes, you can say that.
Just between us, from communicator to communicator: How do you actually find elleXX?
I watched the launch with great admiration and thought to myself: why wasn't this done before? That's always a reliable indicator that an idea is really good if it's easy to tell. That was my aha moment with you guys because the simplest things are always the hardest to invent, come up with and implement. Incidentally, I also think that it is just as important for men to deal with their finances.
We think so too. Real men support elleXX. Thank you for being one of them and thank you for the open discussion.