New Talent: Miriam Preissinger
Miriam Preissinger says her creativity formed as a child in response to her parents constantly moving from town to town. She didn’t feel especially grounded at the time but credits the experience as helping her to develop an open mind. These days she’s a creative director at Cheil Germany.
LBB’s Jason Caines chats with Miriam about how she was offered her first ad job in a car park, her career so far, the FEEDitBAG and why creatives should always be honest
LBB> What were you like as a kid growing up in Germany?
Miriam Preissinger> I can’t really say that I grew up in Germany. Because of my father’s work my family moved around quite a bit - from London to Frankfurt to Geneva and back again. By the time I turned 18 I had spent more time abroad than in Germany.
Moving around so much, that does something to you as a kid. On one hand, you make friends easily and are really open. But on the other side you don’t have any roots or true childhood friends. Still, it taught me to always be independent and open minded – which definitely helps when you work in the ad industry.
LBB> How did you get involved in advertising?
MP> I’ve always been interested in the arts – that’s why I decided to study graphic design. After finishing my studies, I applied at university for art history in Hamburg, which felt more natural to me than finding a job as a designer.
But things turned out differently. A friend of mine started out as an intern at an advertising agency and I was waiting in the car while she was picking up some paperwork at the agency. Then the HR basically recruited me out of the car and convinced me to start at the agency too. Since I couldn’t find an apartment in Hamburg anyway, I decided to postpone my studies for half a year and give it a try.
Needless to say, I never picked up on those art history studies again.
LBB> What did you learn as an art director?
MP> Don’t stay attached to something just because you’ve done it that way before. Always be prepared to subvert your opinions and stay curious and hunt out ‘the new’ - no matter if it’s a visual style, a technology or a production flow.
This goes especially for production. Naturally you have a very detailed plan in mind when you go on a shoot. The client signed it off, the production company is briefed. And then, on set, you find out it’s just not working. If you are not ready to rethink and improvise on the spot, you will end up with an outcome that no one is happy with.
The beautiful part about always turning things around is, that it doesn’t only apply to art direction but even more to everyday life –things change all the time, so stop holding on to them.
LBB> You've been in the business for eight years. How has your workload and job role changed since then?
MP> Well, obviously, the projects I’m responsible for get bigger and bigger. Projects I wouldn’t have imagined being able to do a couple of years ago now feel completely natural. And you get a lot better at selling ideas to clients when you have a good understanding what their pain points are and how you can help them through an idea – so you learn to listen more closely.
Another big part is people. Every successful project starts with the team. How can you put people together so they can work best, develop new skills, achieve personal growth and be happy with themselves.
LBB> What's your day to day life like at Cheil Germany?
MP> Day to day life in advertising - always a tough question. Depending on the phase of the project you are either sitting around with a bunch of people brainstorming and singling out ideas that you think will work best - or trying hard to get everything under control while sprinting from one meeting to the next. That’s probably one of the toughest things in advertising: it’s calm and easy going one minute and the next it feels like you’re running for your life.
LBB> What's been your favourite project that you’ve been creative director on?
MP> Probably the VR project “DISCOVER THE WORLD” that we’ve done last year for Samsung. It’s a 4D virtual world trip where you can experience six destinations in virtual reality including temperature change, scents, wind and more.
I think I have never learned so much in such a short amount of time. Especially the VR shoot as it was uncharted territory to me and held some huge challenges on the production side.
From start to finish we only had 10 weeks production time for everything, which was completely mad. We had to design and construct a booth, shoot different destinations all over the world in VR, post produce the film, build the 4D elements and synchronise everything to the VR content.
As there were so many people from different departments involved, it was a great feeling bringing everything together in the end - it’s something that makes you grow together as a team, that you cannot reach in any other way.
LBB> You were the creative lead behind Cheil's 'FEEDitBAG project'. Can you tell us about your involvement in that project and how it came to life?
MP> FEEDitBAG is one of those projects that floats around an agency for a very long time. Even though everyone believes in the idea you just can’t get it produced: a biodegradable bag with seeds included that turns plastic waste back into food.
Sounds simple at first, but the production wasn’t. Biodegradable plastic is still a relatively new product so it took us a while to find the right people who could produce the bag the way we wanted it to be. Some things appeared simple to us like a high-resolution colour print but were difficult to get done with the material and thinness of the bag. Or biodegradable stickers.
If it hadn’t been for this small passionate team that didn't give up, FEEDitBAG wouldn’t have come to life. It’s a product that we are proud of because it has the power to make big retailers invest into sustainability. The feedback from the people is amazing and that pushes us even more. We were also invited to the Hello Tomorrow Summit in Paris a couple of weeks to showcase our product. At the moment FEEDitBAG feels like a little start-up within Cheil.
LBB> Do you have any advice for aspiring creative directors out there?
MP> Don’t work for someone you don’t respect. Always be honest. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have crazy ambitions for your ideas. And don’t let anyone stop you.
LBB> What are your interests and hobbies outside of advertising?
MP> Most things I do outside of advertising still fuel my work. Either in a creative way, like visiting art exhibitions or performances, or by making me switch my head off. I find it hugely comforting to cook in the evening even after a tough day because it lets me get things back in order in my head. Or to get up and go to a yoga or ballet class no matter how exhausted I feel. These things help me to stay focused and find the right balance in life.