With new management, expanded offerings and an innovative location concept, M&C Saatchi’s Brunnenstraße office in Berlin is back with a bang. As the three specialist agencies for advertising, digital and sports and entertainment merge under one roof, the leaders see it as an opportunity to holistically support clients as a “full-service creative company”.
The physical office has even undergone a new structure with a collaborative workspace in the ‘art gallery’ as well as a basement ‘club’ to get people prioritising cultural encounters, keeping meetings and discussions as the main focus. Additionally, alongside M&C Saatchi’s European client platform, there is a joint approach from Berlin, Milan, Stockholm, Madrid, Paris and Geneva as open collaboration houses are prioritised for creatives, teams and clients across the EU region.
To explain the rationale behind blending both the offerings and the physical office, as well as to explain the impact it’s already having on the teams, managing directors Simona Schapiro, Jannis Klausch and Christian ‘Kidde’ Schuck all sat down with LBB’s Nisna Mahtani.
LBB> Simona, Jannis and Christian, congratulations on being the trio to lead the new set-up at M&C Saatchi Berlin! We’d love to hear about some of the initial conversations which led to this decision, can you share the process with us?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> We are all homegrown talents of the agency and have worked closely together for many years, even in the previous agency setup. We wanted to reconnect with our roots and embrace the motto of the agency founders, Maurice and Charles Saatchi, "Brutal simplicity of thought." Because only when the message is clear, can brands truly resonate with people. It goes for clients to the same extent as for us. This led us completely organically to the decision for the relaunch in Berlin.
M&C Saatchi in Berlin previously consisted of a complex structure of specialised agencies - advertising, digital, sport and entertainment - which sometimes made it unclear for clients which agency partner was the right one for their specific needs. We wanted to dissolve this silo thinking, both for our clients in terms of our offerings and for ourselves in our operational business. And now, we can already say it was the right decision!
LBB> What was the message you wanted to send to employees and clients about M&C Saatchi Berlin in 2023, and going forward in the future?
Simona, Jannis & Christian>The re-launch follows the agency group's purpose of ‘delivering meaningful change’ both externally and internally. So, what we did was create the conditions for further growth in Germany.
We have recognised the importance of breaking down the existing barriers of the previous setup to enable seamless cooperation and maximise resources. With this new approach, we are ready to take our ambition for creativity, technology, and innovation to new heights and provide our clients with even more impactful solutions. And yes, it feels like there is the spirit of new beginnings together with our team and the clients as well. We look forward to the exciting journey ahead…
LBB> With the merge of advertising, digital and sports and entertainment offerings, how does this change the way in which you operate?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> First and foremost, it didn’t affect our approach in terms of creativity nor the industries of clients that we are working for. What is still key for us is to deliver meaningful change for our clients in the relevant aspects for them.
So, not much has changed, we just have eliminated bureaucracy, because nobody needs internal barriers created by individual GmbHs and national borders. We have restructured and consolidated our diverse expertise and know-how, bringing together all specialised agencies under one roof in a holistic offering. In this new setup, our team now encompasses all communication disciplines needed to be competitive, relevant and successful. That's why we wanted to simplify relentlessly to collaborate even faster, more effectively and more integrated - not only within disciplines in Germany but also with our European partners and, of course, for our national and international clients.
LBB> In terms of your existing clients and future ones, what does the new structure mean for how you will be able to serve them going forward?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> Holistic - we see ourselves as a full-service creative company that connects specialist expertise, fuelled by data and technology. And being part of the M&C Saatchi Group, our goal is to help clients navigate, create and lead meaningful change. In marketing and communication, there is no longer the same level of segmentation as before. What is more important than ever today is understanding that there is hardly such a thing as a one-size-fits-all idea and message. The integration of these diverse disciplines allows us to approach projects with an even more cohesive mindset. What counts is the creative idea, which is initially thought of as channel-agnostic. We see ourselves as true channel agnostics. So now we can provide end-to-end services, from developing compelling advertising campaigns for all touchpoints to creating immersive digital experiences and orchestrating integrated brand journeys even better. We also aim to collaborate more closely on a pan-European level with our agencies in Milan, Stockholm, Madrid etc.
LBB> Tell us a little bit about the Berlin office, what the market in Germany is like and how the changes better reflect the local mood.
Simona, Jannis & Christian> It is a highly competitive landscape that pushes agencies to constantly adapt, differentiate their offerings and provide exceptional value to clients to succeed in the German industry. With a robust economy and a thriving business landscape, Germany attracts a wide range of agencies vying for market share. Major players in the industry include global advertising conglomerates, who have established a strong presence in the German market. Additionally, numerous local agencies cater to specific industries and niches, offering specialised services and expertise. Also, lots of societal changes, and many moving pieces– all while clients´ budgets are shrinking and pressure is growing.
We feel that our position in the market is strong, though there is lots of potential for growth and visibility. We have remained discreetly in the background for a long time, letting our work speak for itself. That's why we want to shed the reserve that was also reflected in our old office space. With the new location, we are not only more visible externally but also enable and promote new ways of working and cultures that are so important in the war of talent in the market. Besides that, our strong roots as an agency in the passions and lifestyle space become even more important as a differentiating factor because we feel that those topics make brands culturally relevant and enable them to connect consumers to the brand and also to each other.
LBB> You’re also working with the teams in Milan, Stockholm, Madrid, Paris and Geneva, to consider the European market as a whole. Can you tell us more about that?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> M&C Saatchi has launched a new European client platform that recognises the unique cultural diversity across greater Europe. In the next step of the ‘Moving Forward’ strategy, outlined at Capital Markets Day in February, M&C Saatchi EU is going to support clients with growth across European borders in an agile and connected way, with Carlo Noseda as the CEO for this new offering. Europe is just the perfect place to do so.
Rather than a traditional location-based approach, which has high costs and limited flexibility, the European client solution platform is built with talent and capabilities and a number of open collaboration houses for creatives, teams and clients across the region. Clients across Europe can build their own package of creative solutions in a more synergetic and effective way that includes media, sustainability, CRM, PR, social and talent management as well as data, technology and digital transformation, instead of buying an entire monolithic agency. Berlin is certainly a crucial part of this offering, especially focusing on passion marketing.
LBB> The physical office has also transformed, part of which makes it not only a workplace but an art gallery and club atmosphere too. How has it been working in the space so far and how do you see it being used in the future?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> We absolutely love it and feel very comfortable here. It also doesn't feel at all like we just moved in a few months ago. From the moment we visited this space, we felt like we belonged here. And the concept with the different floors really works.
Everything is different from what it used to be. The old building on Münzstraße was beautiful. It had elegant but small offices and was quite winding. Now everything is open. The agency is meant to be a place of exchange and inspiration, so there is a lot of space for collaboration, events and art. In the ‘gallery’ on the second floor, there is a large table where 14 people can sit. It is suitable for workshops, for example. Events and exhibitions can also be held here. In the basement, the Berliners run a ‘club’ where cultural encounters, such as meetings and discussions, are the main focus. On the second floor, everything is geared towards concentrated work.
Also, 80% of our team comes here every day because they enjoy the vibe. We also have clients, friends and family who come to the office from time to time for work, workshops, etc., as well as employees from other M&C Saatchi offices. The architecture of this place is truly unique and inspires us all, and the rawness of the brutalist concrete fits perfectly with our core philosophy of promoting ‘brutal simplicity of thought’.
To deepen our connections with our partners and the vibrant Berlin scene, we are currently in the process of developing compelling concepts for club nights, integrated art events, curated panel discussions and more. Stay tuned for exciting updates on these ventures.
LBB> What are some of the future-proofing solutions you considered with the new offerings and also the new physical construction of the office?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> It is all about living the network idea in a stronger way. It´s about collaboration and knowledge transfer, but also of course about the business and the aim to win and service more global clients across continents.
Being part of the M&C Saatchi Group is a huge benefit, the proximity of all offices is just there with various advanced digital communication tools such as an own social media platform called Huddle, regular creative and strategic meetings etc. that enable seamless collaboration, remote work capabilities and efficient project management. By embracing these technologies, we can adapt to the changing landscape of remote and distributed work, ensuring that our team can deliver exceptional services regardless of location.
Regarding the physical construction of our office, we have incorporated flexible and adaptable workspaces. This includes modular furniture systems that can be easily rearranged to accommodate different team sizes and project requirements. We have also created collaborative areas equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment to facilitate engaging and interactive client presentations and brainstorming sessions.
Furthermore, we have considered the potential for growth and scalability in our office design. With a flexible layout and scalable infrastructure, we can accommodate the expansion of our team and adapt to evolving client needs without major disruptions.
LBB> You mention that you still have a lot of ideas and plans for the future. Are you able to share some of those with us?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> It would be pretty disillusioning if we wouldn't have any… We are fuelled by ambition in creativity, tech and innovation, especially today when AI and automation are becoming significant factors for success in the future and also in the creative space.
One of our key focuses is therefore harnessing the power of emerging technologies to create immersive and interactive experiences for our clients and their audiences. Additionally, we are investing in data analytics capabilities to gain deeper insights into consumer behaviour and preferences.
By leveraging AI algorithms and machine learning, we aim to develop targeted and personalised advertising strategies that resonate with specific target audiences, maximising the impact of our campaigns. In terms of creative approaches, we are passionate about pushing boundaries and challenging conventions.
Collaboration is also a key aspect of our future plans. We are actively seeking partnerships and collaborations with technology start-ups, creative individuals, and forward-thinking brands to foster a culture of innovation and create synergies that drive industry disruption.
Furthermore, sustainability is a core value for us, and we are committed to integrating environmentally friendly practices into our campaigns and operations. We are exploring ways to minimise our carbon footprint, promote social responsibility, and contribute to positive social impact through our work.
LBB> What’s one thing that you’ve already benefitted from the new changes?
Simona, Jannis & Christian> The changes give us more visibility and more profile in the market. Also, lots of great exchange is happening. And the biggest success is that we have already won new and exciting clients! To be announced soon…