Creativity Squared: From Hobby to Profession with Catharina Makosch
Catharina Makosch is a copywriter at Havas Düsseldorf, where she is developing creative work for clients like Justdiggit, Citroën, Huawei or NRW.Energy4Climate. Before entering the Havas universe, she worked at Proximity WorldWide and BBDO where she started her career in marketing communications. During this time, she gained a 360° insight into the diverse agency processes and had the opportunity to work on famous brands such as Porsche Formula E, Hewlett Packard, Beck’s and Dr. Oetker.
In my eyes, creativity is a somewhat innate quality. I've always been creative in various ways since I was little. Not in the form of bold headline campaigns or catchy radio scripts, of course, but rather on other levels: First by crafts or painting, a little later as a creative string-puller on the football field. Even though it took a while and a few detours for my creativity to make a professional breakthrough, I am now even happier that I was able to turn "creativity as a hobby" into "creativity as a profession".
I particularly enjoy the fact that working in a creative agency means hardly any day resembles the other. My enjoyment for new challenges and a certain cognitive flexibility help me deal with the different demands placed on me every day by superiors, clients, and projects – I appreciate this variety.
I would describe myself as neither introverted nor extroverted; I consider myself more of an ambivert who blends both. I am not someone who likes to be the centre of attention (thanks for having me, LBB.) and therefore I start out in new environments and groups rather reserved and shy. However, the more comfortable I get, the more I let my extroverted side come out, which is empathetic, quick-witted and humorous. I also need to feel comfortable in order to perform well – that’s why a positive team atmosphere is incredibly important to me and allows the best results to emerge. Good work also lives from great exchange within the team.
I'm a creative person who seeks and needs a certain kind of chaos, but it doesn't work without some routines and structure either. Actually, a good mix has emerged through the Covid phase for me.
I like to explore things and am constantly in need for new impressions from different areas or sources to get inspired. This can be through travelling and the associated exploration of other places and cultures, as well as through meeting other people and getting to know their stories and experiences. If you go through life interested, attentive, and open-eyed, then you can take away a lot for yourself; even from everyday situations.
For me, a piece of work is creative or convincing when it ticks one or more of the following boxes: originality, uniqueness, innovation, surprise or emotion.
With every year that I grow more into the industry, I dive deeper into the subject and get a better understanding of what matters. And this is an exciting, continuous journey as I am at an early stage of my creative career and I’m eager to keep on learning.
Winning pitches is always a great experience because as a team, you toil for days and weeks on end and work into the unknown. With passion, heart and soul, and full conviction, you get to grips with the client, their industry, and the briefing. And you don't know for a long time whether all the hard work will finally bear fruit. The best feeling for me is when you convince a new client to place their trust in your agency.
I am particularly proud of my first pitch win at my former agency. We pitched for a supermarket-sushi-shop. Due to the limited resource situation, we were scheduled as a rookie team with four juniors on the art, planning and copy side, and a CD as supervisor. And we won the pitch which was a special feeling as no one in the agency had actually expected us to. Not even us, to be honest. When we were eventually able to produce the campaign, I was filled with incredible pride.
In the creative industry, we also have the great opportunity to draw attention to grievances or injustices with special ideas that make people think. This is an area of creative work where I absolutely want to further develop myself and my creative output in future.
In an ideal scenario, a campaign begins with an exciting or challenging brief that directly triggers the first ideas in my head. Additional references help immensely to adjust to the project in the best way possible. Like most creatives, I love to be well prepared for a project or an upcoming pitch. The more info, details, inspiration provided, the better the creative process can be initiated.
I don't think you always start a project with a blank sheet of paper. Often, I already have an association at the beginning of a briefing. And if not, I draw back to a folder where I have stored brain food that can help my creativity soar. You can't always reinvent the wheel, so it can come in handy to look at what has worked well in previous projects. Or even what didn't work well. Both often leads to inspiration and building new bridges.
I prefer to start projects on my own first so that I can get to grips with the subject as best I can. I first like to get my own picture of the matter and need to sort out my thoughts before I dig into teamwork. Regardless, I count myself as part of the 'teamwork' team. I firmly believe that different mindsets, ways of working, influences, interests, and approaches can get the best out of a project. Especially, when things aren't going well or as planned, it's treasured to be able to exchange ideas with colleagues from different departments and levels to initiate a new or better direction.
I was born and raised in Germany's former capital Bonn but have called the ‘German city of advertising’ Düsseldorf my home for almost seven years now. And I'm still happy to live and work here. Looking back, I would pinpoint two important factors in my life as reasons for my affinity for communications and creativity. Firstly, I was influenced by my father, who was an editor and head of broadcast planning at major German TV stations like ZDF, SAT1, and Phoenix. Through him, I learned a lot of exciting things about the industry from an early age and discovered my interest in writing.
Secondly, I spent major parts of my adolescence at my grandparents while my parents were at work. Both my grandma, and grandpa, were deaf since their childhood – sensitive communication and dealing with it was a big issue early on and at some point, it was clear to me that I saw myself in a communicative role. Consequently, my professional career started in marketing communications, and it still helps me today to get a better all-around perspective when working in a creative agency.
Stress can be both a good and a bad thing. Sometimes exceptionally good things come to you when under pressure. Simply because they have to. But it's also clear that creativity can develop best when the timing is not suffocatingly tight. In a perfect world, I would always get exactly this balanced period of time to be creative, but even though I am an optimist, I am also a realist!
In stressful times, it helps me immensely to find a good balance after work to recharge my mental batteries. Good company, sports, or delicious food are my perfect ways to get there.
If clients would ask what I would recommend to them, my answer would be: trust more in our ideas and the vision behind them and don't always go for the safe option. Of course, you’ll get a good result. But don't you want an outstanding one? Working in creative, I would love to see more clients leaving their comfort zones and trying out new things. It’s great over here!
We spend so much time at work, it is of immeasurable value when agencies make you feel as comfortable as possible. We are extremely lucky at Havas Düsseldorf in this regard, and I haven't seen many agencies that have such a cool and inspiring interior that allows for different working styles. In general, many things can improve a working atmosphere: workshops, ‘hot houses’, themed rooms, retreats to promote creative work, but also internal team-building events such as after-work beers or parties which are just as important to create a better team feeling and great culture.