Wake The Town
Stuck in Motion
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Catalyst Uprising: Combining Data and Intuition with Laura Hallensleben


After going through the Catalyst Academy, the junior copywriter at Wunderman Thompson Germany talks progression without compromising her values and why data shouldn’t drive everything

Catalyst Uprising: Combining Data and Intuition with Laura Hallensleben

In April 2021, Wunderman Thompson launched the Catalyst Academy to support and develop the next generation of talent. Built to develop future marketers and equip them with the experience and skills to thrive in a competitive industry, the industry-defining programme aims to bring together talent from different backgrounds to build brilliant experiences for consumers.

This spin off of the Uprising series will highlight some of the ambitious, creative, collaborative and curious Catalyst Fellows who have now become full-time employees at Wunderman Thompson after their 18-month rotation through the business, as they share how they’re using their skills to inspire change in their new roles.

This edition is by Laura Hallensleben, who has settled into a role as a junior copywriter at Wunderman Thompson Germany, after completing rotations in project management, new business, strategy and creative. Laura explores the modern state of copywriting, and the importance of diverse backgrounds in the creative process.

Tell us a little bit of background

I was born in Germany, but moved to Malaysia when I was three years old. I spent the rest of my childhood and teenage years moving between Asia and Europe every few years and I feel extremely lucky to have had the sort of upbringing I did. The importance of diverse spaces is such a hot topic now, and I think it can sometimes feel like a bit of an amorphous goal. I’m very privileged to have been exposed to many beliefs, values, and lifestyles from an early age. Berlin, where I live now, encapsulates a lot of this and is something I really love about the city.

Getting started in the industry

I studied history and politics at undergrad and then did a masters in social and cultural theory. It might not have been the most “employable” route, but I absolutely loved it and have no regrets. It taught me so many ways to interpret the world. After graduating, my initial plan was to pursue a career in journalism. I wanted to explore important ideas and present them in ways that were accessible to lots of people, not locked in the ivory towers of expensive institutions or behind annoying paywalls. But after such a theory-heavy education, I was also curious to learn more about accessible communications and their use in all walks of life, which led me to apply to the Catalyst Academy. Through that, I've landed on copywriting. It's been the right next step for me, as it allows me to continue to develop my skills as a writer and communicator. I'm glad that now I'm progressing in my career, I haven't had to compromise on working in a role where ideas, accessibility and creativity are the stock in trade.

The work, the work, the work

I’m still in the early stages of my career, but ultimately, I want to create work that is of creative and social value. Something that sparks important discussions, or at least gets people thinking. I know that everyone says this, but we’re at an exciting point in time where brands not only wield a lot of social and cultural power but are being held accountable for what they do with that power. We’re in the process of figuring out what our values are and how to action them. I find that big picture thinking really inspiring, and I’m very lucky to work in an environment that fosters that sort of perspective. One of my favourite parts about the job is the creative problem-solving. I enjoy finding the creativity within the brief, then teasing it out until it’s a fully formed idea. At this stage in my career, I also value the opportunity to learn from those around me, so I like to observe others in their own process.

The state of the industry

I was attracted to advertising because of its reputation for creativity. While that’s still the case, I have sometimes found it to be a lot more focussed on tactics rather than big ideas. I’m not at all denying the importance of data and analytics, but that focus can sometimes lead to a risk-averse attitude, which in turn, dampens creative opportunity. So, I get really excited about projects that strike a balance between data-driven and creative intuition! 

I am particularly passionate about seeing greater diversity in the industry. If we want to spread inclusive messages, we need to live it, too. This is especially clear to me when an advert receives backlash for being tone-deaf or ignorant. When we have more diverse people at the table, such mistakes can be avoided, and we can communicate more effectively. Don’t get me wrong – there have been steps in the right direction, and I applaud that. But I don’t believe it’s enough to simply wait for more diverse people to find their way into the industry. I think it needs proactive education – we need to put the industry on the radar of those who may never have considered advertising, or really know what it’s about. I think the Catalyst Academy was a great example of that. We all came from diverse backgrounds, and most of us had no experience in marketing or advertising. Yet we found that our skillsets had value in the industry.

Passions and inspirations

Outside of work, I’m a bit of a serial hobby-swapper. I’ll get obsessed with something, proudly declare it a core part of my identity, and then drop it a week later. In general, though, writing remains a staple. Now that I’m a copywriter, I try to flex my long-form-writing muscles occasionally and will sometimes work on articles, usually on social and cultural topics. To decompress, I really enjoy knitting and sewing – it’s so satisfying to make something tangible with your hands. I’ll usually do that whilst watching some silly YouTube video. 

view more - Uprising
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
Wunderman Thompson Germany, Tue, 21 Mar 2023 12:05:53 GMT