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Agency Profile: Scholz & Friends Berlin

Posted on April 29, 2013 and read 4,729 times

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brettihaismall Agency Profile: Scholz & Friends BerlinBrett McKenzie
Content Producer
Art Directors Club

Once a business reaches a certain size, it can have a difficult time seeming warm and personable, not just to outsiders, but also to their employees. But for the Berlin-based headquarters of acclaimed German ad agency Scholz & Friends, it starts at the front door.

Or rather above it.

Scholz & Friends’ fancy digs are found near the Hackescher Markt in Mitte, the center of Berlin. A historical neighborhood that fell into neglect during the Cold War, the area has been undergoing both a revitalization and a modernization since the fall of the Berlin Wall (fast fact: Scholz & Friends was the first agency to open up offices in the former East Germany after reunification) Part of that change includes Scholz & Friends’ own building, which the agency itself lent its architectural talents to help design.

And when you pull up to said building, you’re greeted by a large sign over the door that reads “________________ & Friends” No, not an empty space. The sign is digital, and the empty space is changed whenever an employee checks into the office via Foursquare. “It is a fun way to show how we include everybody in our family,” says Wolf Schneider, Managing Director and a ten-year veteran of Scholz & Friends. “You don’t have to wait long to have your name on the door of a big agency!”

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IMG 0108 Agency Profile: Scholz & Friends Berlin

“We are very serious about living up to our ‘Orchestra of Ideas’ tagline,” says Wolf. “To us this means that we are always aiming for collaboration, to come together to make beautiful things.” The collaboration Wolf speaks of doesn’t just occur within the halls of Scholz & Friends, but also with other companies — especially within the WPP network, which brought Scholz & Friends under their umbrella in 2011. The agency also fosters outside collaboration by having its creative management attend the world-renowned Berlin School of Creative Leadership. “We want our creative directors to build their personal networks,” explains Wolf. “By working with other CDs from around the world at Berlin, they form friendships and business relationships that can only help us in the future.”

Scholz & Friends’ Berlin office has a staff of about 400 people, but it is getting increasingly difficult to place people into “creative” and “strategic” departments. “Art Director, copywriter, all of those terms are going away,” says Wolf. “On the teams here, especially the ones I work with, everybody is expected to take on different roles, depending on the situation. These days, creatives are expected to also be consultants.”

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But surely everybody can’t be good at everything, or even want to do everything. How does Scholz & Friends know who are the best people to bring into a particular project? Well while some agencies conduct annual performance and salary reviews, Sscholz & Friends meets with every staff member every six months to chat about their personal goals within the company. “We want everybody to tell us what they want to get out of working here, and then we do our best to align their goals with our own business objectives,” says Wolf. This also means that the agency is open to helping its staff switch disciplines. For instance, a trained copywriter may decide that PR now interests him, or that they might want to try things out at the agency’s Hamburg office. “I believe Scholz & Friends gives its staff a platform to fulfill their own business ideas.” Wolf knows about this firsthand; it was Wolf who was given the latitude to branch the agency out into design.

So what does an average day at Scholz & friends look like? Well although the agency isn’t a stickler about being in at a certain time, and it encourages people to work remotely should they wish to head out to the coffee shop, Scholz & Friends does have a tiny little incentive to arrive at a decent hour; the company provides a free hearty breakfast to anybody who arrives before 8:30 AM. “For the younger staff whose fridges at home likely contain more beer than food, this is a great bonus,” jokes Wolf.

The agency also has many planned and unplanned gathering throughout the year, from its Monday morning company-wide meetings in the foyer of the office, to the Scholz & Friends Academy, where guest speakers from both within and beyond the office educate their peers on various subjects. The office has multiple balconies on all sides of the building, and a beautiful rooftop garden that allows for impromptu barbecues — as well as secret glimpses into the guest rooms of the hotel across the courtyard. There are also the traditional summer parties and winter holiday parties, including all-out blasts where all 400 employees get into planes or buses and head off to some crazy location.

Now you don’t have to have your finger on the pulse of the German advertising scene to know that Scholz & Friends is a major player. The agency regularly racks up big wins at the European and global awards shows. But in spite of its mission to always be ranked in the Top Five in the country in advertising, design, PR and so forth, you won’t find any Lions, Pencils or Cubes lying around. “We like to win, but we don’t have a trophy case in our lobby,” explains Wolf. So where do these precious trinkets go? “The cellar,” he jokes.

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So what does the future hold for Scholz & Friends? What does this agency consider its biggest challenge in the months and years ahead? “I believe the biggest question, for both us and for the industry in general, is the value of creativity,” answers Wolf. “It’s becoming more and more apparent that creativity is not a day, a block of time billed to the client. It’s the result. That is something that needs to be changed, and I think we at Scholz & Friends are ready to take that challenge head on.”

We’d like to thank Wolf for spending time with us at Scholz & Friends Berlin. An extra special thanks to Getty Images for making this visit to Berlin possible.

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Scholz and Friends FESTINA 03s Agency Profile: Scholz & Friends Berlin




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