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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles > Slideshow « Agency Profile: TBWA\NEBOKO

Agency Profile: TBWA\NEBOKO

Posted on August 30, 2011 and read 6,860 times

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brianna Agency Profile: TBWA\NEBOKO Brianna Graves

brettcreditpic Agency Profile: TBWA\NEBOKO Brett McKenzie
Chief Writer, SBN2

Amsterdam is known far too often for its red light district and lenient marijuana laws, and not often enough for its stunning architecture, art and incredible quality of life. In a new industrial area of the city, a creative atmosphere surrounded by water (as much of Amsterdam is, with its interconnected water highway of canals) and host to scads of agencies, television production and film companies, sits TBWA\NEBOKO.

The agency space at TBWA\NEBOKO is huge, with floor-to-ceiling windows that light up vast open workspaces and conference rooms overlooking the water. Modern, simple design, exposed fixtures and a funky wooden jigsaw puzzle of a staircase make for a gorgeous and inspiring work environment. I have to admit the space was really impressive and necessary since it has to inspire over 250 TBWA’ers each day to create great work.

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TBWA\NEBOKO is a proudly Dutch agency, but it is also a proud member of the TBWA\ Global network, bringing the Disruption lens and Media Arts Planning to some of the biggest clients in Holland, from mega-international clients like McDonalds, to national clients like Heineken, KPN (mobile), Delta Lloyd (insurance investment banking), Tempo-Team (staffing resource company), Albert Heijn (the largest supermarket in the Netherlands) and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

It’s an all-hands-on-deck creative philosophy at TBWA\NEBOKO. A good idea can come from anywhere, and all members of the team carry equal weight and responsibility to be creative. There are no siloed creative superstars. Credit is given where due, regardless of job title, and each project begins with a “Smart Start.” Mixing up the account folks, planning staffers and creatives, Smart Starts allow everyone involved to discuss the challenge at hand, and toss around ideas and inspiration as they make their way toward a solution. Everyone is expected to fight for the best possible work. Not work that is simply amusing– though humor is a trademark of their creative– nor ineffective work that aims only to win creative awards, but work that works.

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Creative development is not a long-winded process, however. Projects move quickly through TBWA\NEBOKO.

“I think that part of our commercial success is that we don’t just take heaps of time for every assignment,” Creative Managing Director Bas Engels noted. “We really think about ‘What’s the problem, and how can we solve it?’ and use everybody to come to a solution as quick as possible. It’s busy, everybody’s busy.”

Commercial success comes, in part, from TBWA\’s purchase of and merger with Neboko. Founded in 1999 and almost instantly successful in the industry, Neboko soon became a member of the TBWA\ family. TBWA\NEBOKO combined the forces of two highly creative companies, doubling its energy and throwing Neboko’s commercial clout into the ring. There are about 250 people within the TBWA\Group in Amsterdam.

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The art director-copywriter team structure lives on at TBWA\NEBOKO, some of which are designated as digital teams, while a design department works alone on designs and websites. Work style depends on the flow of jobs. A typical day might find all teams in their respective offices tackling individual to-do lists, while huge jobs encourage the mass exodus from offices for collective collaboration. This sometimes involves burning the midnight oil. It definitely involves the reward of beers together after work, and on occasion even during work hours, for “Beer, Bitterballen and Best Work” breaks.

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Culture is nurtured and carefully tended to at TBWA\NEBOKO. With a high volume of work flowing through the pipelines, there is little time for attitude, ego and conflicting personalities. If you don’t fit in, it doesn’t work. Much of the staff is Dutch, which brings the hyper-local sensibility and humor that not only Dutch clients are looking for, but also multinational clients such as McDonald’s, who want to connect with customers on a local level. Many of TBWA\NEBOKO staffers, though Dutch, have spent time working abroad in the U.S., London and Paris, and are able to represent a diverse breadth of perspective and experience. When a huge pitch or global client work calls for an international team, TBWA\NEBOKO can also rely on the backbone of the TBWA\ Global network for support.

heinekennetwork Agency Profile: TBWA\NEBOKO

“I would love to have some international people, because I think that it would be very good for the agency if there would be a little bit of outsider’s point of view on some of the typical Dutch stuff that we do.  That would be something for the near future I hope,” Creative Managing Director and Partner Jeroen van de Sande said.

Also on the radar for the near future is less of a distinction between “digital” and “normal” creatives. Over the past six years, digital as a discipline has been brought inside the agency. All teams are now expected to be comfortable working in the digital space, though experience and skill sets sit at understandably variable levels. Absorbing TBWA\Flow (a previously internal, though separate TBWA\ group) into the TBWA\NEBOKO agency mix a year ago was a formal change that greatly improved the spirit and culture at the agency, van de Sande noted. Though great strides have been made to date, the goal for the future is even further improvement over the next three years.

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“…we haven’t seen it in Holland yet successfully,” Engels said. “There are successful digital agencies, or an agency that happens to do some digital work, but the combination hasn’t been so successful yet.  Hopefully we are the first.”

  • Rajesh Sinha

    wow! what an office. In India we work like cattles in crowded stuffy offices. no wonder your work is so good. 

  • Bhavesh

    I am sorry but don’t quite agree….offices in India are awesome too. However, what makes the difference in any place, stuffy or airy, is what kind of work they do.




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