BBDO Group Germany’s chief production officer Steffen Gentis chooses a selection of creative work that ranges from advertising to music to business innovation
Steffen Gentis proves that he is a man of broad and eclectic tastes in his celebration of recent German creativity. Despite still being in the depths of a pandemic, the chief production officer at BBDO Group Germany shows that the country is firing on all cylinders in spheres ranging from advertising to filmmaking, music and technological innovation.
WhatsApp - A Family Diary
The obvious choice for me is the creative BBDO cooperation between Germany and Brazil on WhatsApp’s “A Family Diary”. Particularly since lockdown, we have been increasingly nuanced in the way we use and wrap the layers of digital communication like concentric rings around us: with email being the outer, almost public layer; followed by video calls - more for work - the next concentric ring; the next layer is social media, where we get a bit more personal with friends and followers; and then the inner, more private circle of chats and messaging – that’s where WhatsApp lives. And that is exactly how Joanna Nordahl approached the script. For the idea of a family diary, she went up incredibly close to a refreshingly authentic and diverse cast, letting them play out their emotions in a series of rare images. The difficult circumstances of producing in 2020/21 have been a challenge to us all. Joanna’s approach embraces this, weaving it into the narrative with a beautiful audio and video edit to the beat of Caribou’s ‘Can’t Do Without You’. For me total goosebumps and an unforgettable film.
Festival of Animation Berlin
I’m a big fan of the photographer / director Sven Schrader and his latest piece for the F.O.A. Festival of Animation
beautifully captures the charming craziness of Berlin.
Yes, Berlin is one of Europe’s most exciting and creative cities, and there is sooo much great work radiating from here, it’s what invariably springs to mind when creatives from all over the world think of Germany. But there’s a lot more than just Berlin, so for a change I’d like to put the spotlight on Düsseldorf: The city has a vibrant creative tradition not only in advertising but also in fashion, photography, the arts, and in music: Kraftwerk is from Düsseldorf, and reflecting some of their innovative spirit is a duo called the Grandbrothers
. I would like to share their new song “All The Unknown”. What makes them special is their electronic pioneering and a “four-handed approach” which sees a grand piano hacked with computer software and electronic hammers, to create a remarkably unique upbeat piano-edm crossover music: this unusual session
gives a great view of how they play.
The pipeline approach to making films is going to be around for a long time still, but the platform approach to production will disrupt the industry. The next creative idea from Germany I’d love to share, is a startup that kicked off in October through really leveraging the platform approach to film making at scale. Livebuy
have created a very simple system of including authentic shoppable live video streams for brands’ online stores at scale. This lockdown-inspired idea is obviously filling a huge gap in shopper dialogue caused by closed stores as reportedly customer engagement and sales go through the roof. I don’t think their meteoric conversion rates will fall once all the stores open again.
I AM HERE
The last idea I want to share isn't a campaign either (yet). There is a directing duo whose approach to film is so fresh and young, that I’d like to share their latest work.
This is really exciting – I didn’t see that Peggy Gou portrait
for the German Vogue
coming, but it is still so characteristic of them, and once you see it, it becomes a logical piece of their portfolio. I guess that’s what is fascinating about I AM HERE: their incredible range, they are impossible to categorise, but their work is always somehow recognisable as theirs. There is something very unique about their interpretation, and the richness of their audio and visual design.
I find it interesting when you compare this recent work for German Vogue, this very beautiful stylized interpretation of the very beautiful style icon Peggy Gou, sharing her thoughts on beauty. When you compare that with the irresistible rawness of their Kids of the Bims trailer
– which is not rugged raw, but a very aesthetic, beautifully composed rawness, that is so respectful of the subject matter. It is this respect for their subject, combined with an uncanny close and clear camera, embedded into sound design that weaves their imagery into an always compelling narrative… that’s what resonates throughout their work, that you always have to watch at least twice to get everything.