There are lots of great agencies in New York City. And I've worked for a fair few of them.
SO WHY AM I FREELANCING?
Right now, the world is just too damn exciting to be working for just one company.
What brands can do for people and what people can do with brands is wide open. And the journey to get to those ideas is usually bumpy, often off-road, and always lots of fun. It's the best time ever to be in this business.
My way of understanding this wild and wondrous new world is to work with those who are changing it. I've been lucky enough to work with some of the most interesting companies out there - speed-learning, risk taking, experimenting, making and taking, and generally having a blast.
So it's a two-way deal: I'll bring you everything I've learned in this crazy, shifting world out there, and I'll learn from you what makes you great.
And because R&D is important, not just for corporations but for people, I only work eight months a year. The other four months are 'lab time' - time to experiment with life itself, make stuff, volunteer and learn new skills.
Projects where the solution goes beyond communications, coming to life in a product, a tool, a provocative action or an idea the brand can give away.
Tough cases: brands facing big challenges who have yet to tap into opportunities created by changes in culture.
Supposed low interest categories - born from the belief that any category can and should be interesting.
Defining a brand's cause, its fight, its story, based on not only on its role in people's lives but in culture.
Finding the big idea fast. I distrust insights that need six weeks of research to get uncovered.
Using human language to get at human truths - I hate marketing jargon and business-speak.
Tracking down interesting stories within big piles of supposedly boring data and information.
Working as part of a large team where everyone has a say. I go quiet in rooms with 20 people talking over each other. Maybe because I grew up in a large family?
Standard brand templates, with their endless tweaking of words. Trying to decide between 'refresh your life, every day' or 'refreshing vitality, daily' - aargh! I've found that broad 'higher order benefits' often become the enemy of doing something bold and different.
All-day meetings. Does anyone enjoy them?
Brand, marketing and advertising strategies
New business pitches
Audience deep dives
Innovation/new product development
Millennials and GenZ
Creative class and other experience-driven audiences
Health and wellness seekers
Business owners and entrepreneurs
SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS (New York) - Master of Fine Arts in photography
OXFORD UNIVERSITY (Oxford, UK) - BA/MA in philosophy, psychology and physiology
JWT (New York) - Group Strategy Director
BERLIN CAMERON UNITED (New York) - Partner/Chief Strategy Officer
FALLON MCELLIGOTT BERLIN (New York) - Senior Strategist
BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTY (London) - Planner
Three gold Effies, one silver and one bronze Effie, one silver Jay Chiat award, a bronze IPA Effectiveness award and a silver APG/UK award.
I grew up in a large family in a small village in the South of Germany. It’s lovely there, but I knew early on that I had to get out. I was punk, I was goth, I was shy, I was weird, I dropped out of high school. Working in a pants factory got old really fast, so I went on a popular German game show, made some money and ran away to London - note on the pillow, early morning train, that kind of departure.
With no qualifications, no connections and dodgy English my career prospects were limited. I worked in fast food joints and cafeterias for a couple of years, then decided to step up my game by learning to typing and do shorthand. I was a secretary for an additional few years, which gave me the confidence to think about continuing my education. I took evening classes for a year and did my A-levels (SATs). I did pretty well, and got accepted by Oxford University, where I studied psychology and philosophy.
And then BBH London offered me the only trainee planner spot for the year. Which takes us to the beginning of my official résumé.
It’s a bit of an unusual bio, I’ll admit, but I thought it’s worth mentioning. I’ve learned a lot in those poverty years, the years of doing minimum wage jobs, where I was just another foreigner.
Empathy - if you're forever on the outside you're forced to figure out how the rest of the world thinks and feels
Fearlessness - realizing that the only way to create change is to make big bets
Humility - respecting people from every walk of life, because they could be me, and I could be them
Gratitude - even when things are bad, it's not scrubbing toilets for three dollars an hour
Optimism - dreaming big has yet to let me down
Resourcefulness - good with spit and duct tape
In no particular order
Art - Did I mention I have a master's degree in fine art, specialization photography (done at SVA a few years ago)? That means I'm usually pretty up to date what's in New York's galleries, museums and alternative spaces. I love looking at and talking about art. I also make art - I've had group and solo shows of my work in galleries here and in Europe. Favorite artists: Gillian Wearing, Darren Almond, Peter Hujar, Boris Mikhailov, Sophie Calle, Stephen Gill, Jim Goldberg and tons more.
Health, nutrition and public health issues - I care a lot about how we can solve our public health crises through changing behavior patterns and policies. I'm not only a voracious reader of the latest science research news but a skeptical self-tracker and experimenter. And I lift weights. It's also why I won't work on processed foods, snacks and drinks anymore. Apologies - I'm not judging you, just found it hard to square with my personal beliefs and actions.
If you have a project that is in the health/nutrition/exercise/aging field I would love to talk to you.
History - I'm a bit obsessed with 20th Century history, especially the World Wars and the post-war period. I have read endlessly about it and done personal research and a photographic project. It's also the reason I'm a volunteer for Selfhelp, an organization that takes care of Nazi victims living in the New York City area.
Fashion - I am interested in the intellectual, technical and creative aspects of fashion design. Favorite designers are Gareth Pugh, Josephus Thimister, Haider Ackerman, Rick Owens and and Nicolas Taralis. I know how to draft and drape my own patterns and continue to take classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I love making my own clothes and designing my own fabrics.
I love Georgian music and am currently trying to learn the panduri. And generally spend far too much time out hiking and hunting wild mushrooms.
Let's talk - whether it's about a specific project or just because.
sigridjakob at gmail.com