An Interview With: Esben Ehrenreich


Executive Creative Director | Y&R Germany

In 2012 Esben was named Executive Creative Director at Y&R. His work has received numerous international awards such as Gold at Cannes Lions, Clio, ADC Europe, Eurobest, Cresta, New York festivals, Epica, London international, as well as accolades from ADC and Effie Germany.

Esben discovered his passion for great ideas as he interned at Saatchi & Saatchi London and Publicis Frankfurt during his Communication Design studies. After receiving his Masters Degree, he started off in the creative industry at Red Cell Düsseldorf, then went on to work for FCB Vienna, Saatchi & Saatchi and BBDO Berlin.

#1 As a Scandinavian creative working in Germany, could you give us some examples of the differences and similarities between these two regions? How do you bring your own aesthetic into the work you produce for your clients? How do you make sure you don’t lose your own creative identity when trying to meet your clients’ expectations and localisation needs?

just think of our heritage with Arne Jacobsen, Erik Gunnar Asplund or Alvar Aalto. When you for instance walk through Copenhagen, you'll recognize a certain Scandinavian style and loads of emerging brands. And while sitting comfortably in a chair by HAY in a café in Berlin Mitte watching the mingling hipsters, you might recognize brands like Wood Wood, Nudie, Hankjobenhavn, Fjällräven or COS. So there must be a certain Scandinavian aesthetic in our DNA, which we try to keep, no matter where we live or work.

As a Scandinavian it's great to be in Germany. It's an exciting country with lovely people and really cool cities. Berlin has actually become our most popular city outside the Nordics and when you don't have to explain that Denmark isn't the capital of Stockholm, not even the other way round, it's really nice to live and work with the Germans. The only tiny little thing that divides us is our sense of humour and maybe also the common understanding of design. In general design has been, and still is, much more important in the Nordic countries - 

#2 In the past few years, advertising has undergone major change. Classic media may not be the best way for brands to reach their consumers. What’s your experience in fashion? How has fashion changed in terms of advertising?

But still the content, the story is key -no matter which channel a brand is using. No one will ever share a boring or irrelevant message!

The digital revolution is a fact. Our world is changing so fast and all industries has to adapt, maybe even change their way of communicating. 

#3 Do you see fashion film as a product of this change? Would you say that fashion film is or will become one of the main channels for the fashion film industry to communicate with their consumers? In your opinion, will fashion film influence other visual industries?

on other visual industries. Just take a look at the "France is in the Air" spot from Air France, Betc Paris and the directors We Are From L.A. creating a masterpiece of visual communication full of fantastic pictures, music –and fashion (up in the sky of course).

Film as communication medium will stay, that's for sure. The media platforms will change, but storytelling via film will always be relevant, no matter if you watch it on YouTube, like it on Facebook or share the link via Twitter. And fashion film with its high aesthetic standard is a strong influencer 

"The media platforms will change, but storytelling via film will always be relevant, no matter if you watch it on YouTube, like it on Facebook or share the link via Twitter"

#4 In your professional experience you have dealt with a great range of clients and budgets. We often get asked how can young filmmakers and brands compete with more established names. Now we turn the same question to you. How much of a vital role does budget play in a successful film production? Or is it more a case of “Best Idea Wins” 

A great story can make you laugh, can make you cry, can make you think about something you never thought of. So definitely yes, a great idea can convince - the jury, your client or a customer.

A great idea can convince. A great idea should convince. A great idea must convince! It's all about the idea. Of course it's easier to produce a great film with a big budget, but still the core of the project is the idea, the story you're telling.

"A great story can make you laugh, can make you cry, can make you think about something you never thought of"

#5 “Resist the usual” is a statement once made by Raymond Rubicam, founder of Y&R. Could you explain to us what that means? Could you give us an examples of some of the hardest decisions you’ve had to make in order to stay true to your values?

The companies have to ask themselves what role they want to play in people’s lives and their brands shouldn't be followers, but must drive change. This includes attitude and courage. Only brands with exciting personalities are interesting, authentic and therefore credible. That's why we should resist the usual, be surprising and have the courage to polarize - even if no one briefed it or expects it.

"Our job is to resist the usual" Raymond Rubicam said so over 85 years ago. This is still true today and living up to this commitment has not become easier since then. In fact brands are in a credibility crisis today. More channels, more data, better technology and individualized messages do not automatically lead to a closer relationship between brands and people.