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Uprising: The Next Gen of Media with Renee Van Den Oetelaar


The head of Boomerang FT, part of Publicis Groupe, on finding a space for gen z, gen a and future talent to be heard in the media space, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Uprising: The Next Gen of Media with Renee Van Den Oetelaar

Growing up in Bladel, a small village in the south of the Netherlands, a young Renee van den Oetelaar dreamt of one day moving to Amsterdam, and turning her daydreams into reality. After immersing herself in the creative world, she was able to specialise in social media, namely content creation and the use of new platforms. With this experience, she’s now head of Boomerang FT, an agency part of Publicis Groupe which specialises in connecting brands.

As a child, Renee kept herself busy, filling her time with several hobbies and jobs, “Dancing, acting, and gymnastics were my after-school activities and I lost count of how many side jobs I had,” she says, “I always wanted something new once I got the hang of it - I liked to feel challenged.” With her passion for finding more and more hobbies to keep her busy, it was no surprise that she ventured to Breda, the nearest big town when she turned 17. 

After studying for a bachelor's in communications, she went on to the University of Antwerp for her master's degree. Realising that perhaps that wasn’t the right career path for her, Renee went on to join the TV Academy (part of Talpa) as she remembers, “I secretly always thought I’d be a tv presenter.” When she was on the TV Academy team, it was coming up with creative new ideas was the highlight of her day, so she continued to develop the skill. “I focused on format development and got to pitch some of my ideas to media tycoon John de Mol himself. That led to a new role in his direct team, where I gained a lot of experience,” and that was the beginning of things for her.

With the realisation that short form content was more for her, it was moving away from long form projects which led her to the social media side of things. “Out of my own interest, I dove into social media and became particularly interested in new media such as TikTok and the next generation of content creation (and creators).

“Since I was so involved with what the next-gen was doing online, I started to understand their language and behaviour, their point of view on the world of social media,” she says. “I was convinced that we needed to involve these insights in our agency work for clients. Which led me to the idea to build a ‘new media’ team with internal new media/next-gen enthusiasts like me.” Though the ‘new media’ team seemed to be overshadowed by client work that came in, the creation of Boomerang FT would turn into the perfect fit for her. 

Reflecting on the first campaign she did where her social media skills were harnessed, Renee says, “My enthusiasm in this field was what got me the job as a junior creative strategist with a focus on new media at Boomerang, part of Publicis Groupe (big shoutout to Ids van der Poel for taking the chance on me).” She joined the team to translate new developments into social media tools and with her expertise, she was introduced as the ‘TikTok expert’ as she went into a client meeting for Chocomel. 

Sharing her ideas, Renee explains the progression which took place after the Chocomel pitch, “One week later I was in the lead as creative strategist for the rollout of a TikTok extension for the ‘Chocomel Letters’ campaign. I created the concepts and set up a collab with several TikTok creators.” And the results turned out to be fantastic. “In total, we organically reached over two million people, spread over four assets I believe. Since TikTok just started to gain popularity, this was the first TikTok campaign Boomerang FT ever did and it turned out to be my first success.” She reflects on Chocmel as an open-minded collaborator in the process, a brand which dared to try something new. 

Moving into the Boomerang FT space was undoubtedly a career highlight for Renee. “I got the amazing opportunity to turn my vision on ‘new media’ and the potential of the next generation into a new kind of business idea that became a new age creative label (an agency within an agency).” Pushing to get the next generation of voices heard, it’s gen z, gen a and future voices which are the priority for the agency. “We see their potential and how multi-talented they are when it comes to content creation. They are born with the creative handles we millennials never received, they are digital natives. They can deliver a creative concept from A to Z. They are the future of creative agencies and also the future of the industry,” says Renee. 

Part of Boomerang FT is the ability to equip younger people with the skills they need to break into an industry which is notoriously tricky to dip a toe into. By gaining experience through the initiative, the young creators receive an invaluable opportunity which replaces the part time jobs that would otherwise sustain them during their studies. “They can build up the very much needed experience that they cannot get anywhere else. At university you don’t build on your portfolio in the same way, so it’s hard to break through in the creative industry without having a network.” She explains the process as a “win-win and a great exchange of knowledge.”

With an abundance of energy for the role, sharing her enthusiasm through the process is the aspect that keeps her going. “I believe so strongly in the vision and mission of Boomerang FT and I just can’t stop talking about it. I don’t shy away from a debate with a boomer, or sceptical client. I love working with my amazing team. I’m lucky to have great mentors both inside and outside of Boomerang. This kind of collaboration towards a new way of doing things is what makes my heart beat faster.”

An advocate and self-confessed cheerleader of her team, it’s the management and organisational skills which Renee is keen to keep developing in her role. “I’m still learning to be a good manager, but I’m definitely not there yet. I know my strengths lie elsewhere, such as cheering on my team and helping them the growth they want to see in themselves. Organisationally, I have a lot to learn. I’m starting to embrace that it’s okay not to be good at everything and that it’s okay to hire people who are better than you at something they actually enjoy (whereas I don’t like to manage).” 

But she does take the time to balance this with crediting herself for her strengths, “I am good at other things such as thinking outside the box and creative problem-solving. Being the enthusiastic bouncy woman that I am, coming with a dose of chaos as well, and that’s not always been easy. Also building an agency while facing setbacks again with my health has been a challenge, but it also makes me stronger.”

The goal for Renee and Boomerang FT is to continue to find new ways to connect with new brands and consumer groups. She says, “I want some of the young talent to actually get recognised in the industry, and make space for new voices. In the years to come, as we grow, I want people to see Boomerang FT as a proven professional growth opportunity for future talent/the next gen.” With her finger on the pulse of trends (supported by the next gen who surround her), she credits this as one of the aspects that keeps her fresh and able to come up with new creative ideas. But that’s not all, “I do a lot of research by reading TNYT, Cassandra and Gen Yeet. I also keep myself busy with scrolling through the landscape (TikTok - namely content from Rodger Cleye, IG Reels, BeReal, Snap, Roblox).”

Part of the frustration of working within this market, is the notion of people not being able to ‘reach the next gen’, which Renee believes is a lacklustre excuse for not taking the time to understand the demographic. “It’s the people in our industry who are pitching their ‘big ideas’ to reach a generation they don’t understand. The result? ‘Absolute cringe’ and a new competitor: the creators who have all the freedom to play with new digital content creation techniques and make them their own like no generation before.”

With next gen consumers as the ones who will take charge of the industry, that’s who she believes should be front and centre of the way in which the industry works. She says, “Because of joining the board of Jonge Honden I was able to visit Cannes Lions for the first time (2022); this was a great experience to have and also a big eye opener; where were all the youngsters; junior creatives, creative students, content creators, etc?” With what she describes as ‘an old-dated agency world’, she wants to “Give future talent a stage, and actually take them seriously.”

As passion and enthusiasm are a priority for Renee, it’s no surprise that an inspirational person she looks up to is someone who speaks with those qualities. Namely, Marion Setiey, the international media director for Europe and global productivity at LVMH. “I don’t know her in person but a couple of months ago we, Boomerang FT, got the chance to speak at an internal Publicis Luxe conference for LVMH. Marion was attending and also hosted a talk about their learnings and goals from the LVMH POV. Her whole vibe, her appearance and the way she presented herself was very inspiring. There was such confidence.” The experience certainly stuck with her.

She says, “I also look up to Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and perhaps a little more to his advisory team in PR/branding. We all know he made a very clear, big, earth-changing statement about him giving all Patagonia’s profit to planet earth. very admirable and really a very powerful message from him and his brand is also so credible. Shout out to the team behind him.”

When she isn’t working, you’ll find Renee pursuing her other interests and hobbies, “Working out is my meditation (boot camp). The energy and peace afterwards are the best feeling, sounds SO cheesy but it’s true for me. I also surround myself with my lovely friends, spending hours cooking in the kitchen as a kind of relaxing therapy for me, hosting dinners for friends, buying nice wines and presenting them to my friends pretending I have a clue what I’m talking about. And I have the best boyfriend in the world who is my sounding board, support pillar and a nice distraction all in one.”

It’s hard to call her hobbies ‘passions’ because she uses that word to describe the effort she puts into everything. “I honestly think and can say about myself that everything I do is filled with all my passion. I do/say/love ‘things’ wholeheartedly, always. Combined with sharing my energy/enthusiasm and with an unstoppable craving for what’s new/next to come.”

She leaves us with this: “Being ambitious by nature causes me to keep creating new opportunities for myself by wanting to see/find them. The most random conversations, social posts, articles or newsflashes can trigger me to come up with an idea I will be passionate about. And every day I’m filled with new ones. I also am this impulsive with house viewings and other life changing decisions haha. Boomerang FT. is my priority and my biggest motivation in my life right now.”

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Publicis Groupe Hungary, Mon, 16 Jan 2023 17:49:00 GMT