Become a Member
Proudly Sponsored By
articles / advertising know-how and fearless opinions
IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Agency Profile: Advico Y&R

Agency Profile: Advico Y&R

Posted on July 4, 2013 and read 3,896 times

Agency Profile: Advico Y&R thumbnail

brettihaismall Agency Profile: Advico Y&RBrett McKenzie
Content Producer
Art Directors Club


Quick, what comes to mind when you think of the country of Switzerland? Fine chocolate and even finer watches? Versatile knives and the Alps? Perhaps it’s the country’s longstanding commitment to armed neutrality. Switzerland hasn’t picked a side in a war in nearly 200 years, and it also hasn’t picked a single language within its own borders; the nation boasts of four official languages, several dialects, and a sizable population of Anglophones and others whose primary language is that of finance —this is one of the world’s premier banking centers, after all.

The linguistic tapestry that is Switzerland poses an interesting challenge when it comes to communicating with its citizens. While the government can always fall back on Swiss German, brands tend to fare well when speaking in the language of their audience. This has led to the country building a surprisingly robust advertising community, where the players must be able to switch from French to Italian to German, along with the cultural idiosyncrasies that come with each, all for the same client. It takes a skilled hand to navigate those waters, and in Zurich — Switzerland’s biggest city — few have been doing it as long or as well as Advico Y&R.



The Limmat River cuts through the Old Town of the city, starting at the northern tip of beautiful Lake Zurich and continuing north. Not far from the source, the Limmat passes through the Escher Wyss quarter, named after an engineering firm that created everything from textiles to ships. The company doesn’t exist anymore, but it’s in this neighbourhood that you’ll find the offices of Advico Y&R. Founded by Victor Cohen in 1947 — although he didn’t give it the catchy acronym until fifteen years later — the agency has enjoyed steady growth in the Swiss market, and has been consistently ranked among the country’s top creative shops. Today the agency sits at approximately 100 employees, spanning disciplines that Mr. Cohen couldn’t have even fathomed.

“I think one of our greatest strengths here is our history,” says Markus Gut, Advico’s Chief Creative Officer. “While we are always trying to stay on top of the latest trends, as well as start a few trends of our own, we never lose sight of our place in Swiss advertising history.” To this end, Advico keeps a very extensive archive within the cellar of the office that not only traces the agency’s storied past all the way back to the late 1940s, it also shows the beginnings of just about every other agency in town. “Almost everybody who has worked in Swiss advertising over the past 70 years has been connected to Advico. The photos are a virtual treasure trove, and look like a Swiss version of Mad Men,” Markus laughs.

Celebrating the agency’s past is wonderful, but Advico also likes to keep things modern. Its office space, designed by Markus and CEO Andreas Widmer, is sleek and dark, with a wall of greenery at reception, a canteen with an in-house chef, and a gym where employees can work out on their own time or join in on the Thursday afternoon yoga classes (apparently very popular with the ladies, even if only one male employee regularly participates.) The work areas are all open, and there are plenty of spaces to call an impromptu meeting or brainstorm session. And at the end of the day, it’s easy to escape the office — especially if you play on Advico’s in-house soccer team!

The longstanding tradition of copywriters and art directors being joined at the hip has been cast aside here at Advico. Instead the clients and accounts are divided between four executive creative directors, who then pick and choose the people they need for a particular project. This is designed to keep things fresh and allow different people to try their hand at different things, all while having the ECDs in charge of maintaining consistency. Whatever the fluid teams may be, Markus says they try to put together at least three people on every project: a creative, a technologist and a strategist to manage it all.

Technology plays a very important role in the work done at Advico. “People have been saying that ‘digital is the future’ for so long that the future has already past,” explains Markus. Instead Advico works alongside its digital division Futurecom to focus on mobile and tablet apps, with special attention placed on point-of-sale retail interactions. Some of their creations have gone on to be implemented on a global scale for companies such as P&G. “We don’t want our employees to just look for the future, we want them to live it, to create things that can become part of their lives.”

Living the future has proven to be very successful for Advico on the national, regional and international awards circuits, but some awards just don’t go on your C.V. case in point: the Tuesday Awards, a tongue-in-cheek motivational award that can only be won by the agency’s staff. “The Tuesday Awards are a lot of fun,” laughs Markus. “We give out prizes, some cool, some less cool, but it also serves as a great way to show off the accomplishments of everyone in the agency.”

Earlier we mentioned that Switzerland is a country with multiple languages in play. How does an agency like Advico handle the differences? “It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds,” explains Markus. “Here in Zurich the primary language, especially of the business world, is Swiss German, so most of our communications start that way, even if they aren’t going to finish that way. The next most common language is Swiss French. If the concept of the ad is very simple, we might just translate it from German. If it’s more complex, we will recreate the idea for a French audience.” Italian and Romansh— Switzerland’s other two official languages— are pretty rare in this part of the country; Advico is more likely to produce work for English speakers.

So what does the near future hold for one of Switzerland’s most iconic agencies? “For us, other than our focus on mobile, we’d like to see ourselves tapping into the Y&R network more frequently,” says Markus, who sits on the global council. “We already know we can do amazing things here in Zurich. Now we want even more opportunities to shine around the globe.”

Thanks to Markus and the whole Advico team for allowing us to visit! An extra special thanks to Getty Images for making this trip to Zurich possible.




    Moving Millennials thumbnail Moving Millennials
    Thoughts from a Cannes Creative Effectiveness 2013 Jury member thumbnail Thoughts from a Cannes Creative Effectiveness 2013 Jury member


    Agency Profile: Advico Y&R thumbnail Agency Profile: Advico Y&R


    Copyright © 2001-2017 IHAVEANIDEA inc. All rights reserved. No material contained in this site may be republished or reposted.
    IHAVEANIDEA™ is a trademark of IHAVEANIDEA inc. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

    Copyright © 2009 ihaveanidea inc. All rights reserved.

    No material contained in this site may be republished or reposted. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy