Q&A: Heimat Creative Director Sabina Hesse
Sabina Hesse’s pathway to Heimat was carved out by passion. Now a creative director at the agency (whose name translates to ‘home’ in English), Hesse’s career has spanned fine art, copywriting and art directing. In this chat with LBB’s Addison Capper, Hesse reveals what sets Heimat apart from other German agencies, why ‘new shit’ is making people revert to ‘old shit’, and why doing nothing is her key to keeping creativity fresh.
LBB> How did you first get into the industry?
SH> Ever since I was five years old I loved drawing, inventing stories and entertaining people with that. Today I pretty much do exactly the same.
LBB> Where did you start out and how did you wind up as a CD at Heimat?
SH> I studied fine arts for one year in Bucharest and thought, ‘I love this - but I also need to make money.’ So I studied communications design, and then applied to be an art director at Ogilvy Frankfurt.
I then found myself thinking, ‘I love this, but writing is also very interesting’. So, I found myself as a copywriter in the HORNBACH team at Heimat. And three years later my art partner Teresa [Jung] and I got our own team here at Heimat. And I still find myself thinking, ‘I love this’.
LBB> When we speak to people in the German market, Heimat gets singled out for a lot of praise. What is it about Heimat and its culture that sets it apart from other agencies in Germany?
SH> We believe in solving our clients’ problems more than getting awards. For that we usually get awards. Moreover I notice that we are surpassingly handsome.
If we were to search for kind of a recipe for success, it would be wild and controlled at the same time. A combination of radical and outstanding execution based on a completely understandable and truthful core.
LBB> What are the traits that Heimat looks for when bringing in new talent?
SH> Of course, talent is important. But truly decisive is the deep will to really move something. When you see that someone is really driven and eager to create, then that’s always a good sign.
LBB> Which recent projects that you’ve been involved in have particularly resonated with you and why?
SH> I once had a boyfriend with a really long frog tongue, like in the OTTO commercial.
LBB> Outside of the ad industry, who are your creative heroes and why?
SH> Everyone who creates things with dedication. A baker who talks to me for a whole hour about the secret of the perfect dough can win my heart.
LBB> And how do you keep your creative juices flowing in your free time?
SH> Funnily enough sometimes it’s good to do nothing at all. To let your brain rest. In those moments your mind keeps on working in the subconscious and comes out with very interesting stuff.
LBB> In your eyes, what are the challenges facing German adland at the moment?
SH> German advertising needs to be much more respectful to their target group. When I switch on the TV I sometimes get the impression that they think I have the general knowledge of a plum. A deaf plum. They think people sit there in front of the TV, just waiting for the brands to yell their product information at them.
When you enter the house of a person you don’t know without even knocking, I suggest telling him or her a charming story which fascinates them. We need to start inviting and entertaining the audience instead of boring them with dull buying orders. No one likes to be dictated.
LBB> And what are the most exciting developments and trends happening right now?
SH> We’re going backwards, in essence. Due to technology everyone is overwhelmed with content, messages, innovations. Just think of YouTube or your Facebook feed.
There is so much latest shit that people automatically relate to the old shit: emotions. That’s the most important and valuable asset in the digital age.
Meaningful messages packed with emotional stories - that’s what people care about and will share and send to their friends. Our latest HORNBACH spot, ‘Gothic girl’, which was done by my colleagues on the HORNBACH team, went viral like crazy. When people care about the story, they also care about your product.
LBB> What does 2015 hold for the German advertising industry?
SH> We need less fear and more fun. There are so many great possibilities to pack your message with in a creatively sparkling way. Just look at great ads like Direct TV or hotels.com with their Captain Obvious ads or the Aldi UK Gin Grandma.