10 minutes with Birger Linke

birger linke.jpgCampaign Brief Asia sits down with a prominent creative talent from our region and gets to know them better. This week in this regular "10 Minutes With" column is Birger Linke - Executive Creative Director at TBWA Vietnam.

What did you do before getting into advertising?
I started off in packaging, designing for Becks Beer, Boss and Milka Chocolates (the latter work still shows up here and there).

How (or why) did you first get into advertising as a career?
My majors in high school were maths and arts. It must have been the combination that made me apply for graphic design studies.

What was your first big break in advertising?
Firstly my decision to leave Germany for the Far East. And luck was on my side when Craig Davis (at that time Regional ECD of Saatchi & Saatchi and based in Hong Kong) passed on my portfolio to the Singapore office.

Colorblind.jpgWhat is your career highlight to date?
Helping to make Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore the No. 1 Direct Marketing Agency in the World and winning the first ever D&AD for Vietnam (Lego 'Colorblind), making TBWA the most awarded agency in the country this year. But it really feels great when a colleague tells you me has learned something from me.

What's the most challenging thing about working in the Vietnam ad industry compared to Singapore?
Four weeks ago a colleague subscribed to the Singapore Straits Times. Looking at the ads in the paper every day, Vietnam is quite an advertising heaven. While there are restrictions in a communist country, client's are more open to suggestions. The problem starts with the execution and the talent available in Vietnam.

Nominate the two best ads/campaigns that you have created or been involved in the creation of? Why these?
That has to be work for the Singapore Navy. The "Blueprint" got me my first Gold Lion and the "Transmariners" made Saatchi the No. 1 in the world. And both truly engaged the target audience.


Are there any people who inspire you or make you envious?
No question: David Droga is so far ahead of us when it comes to effecting the lives of people. I'm also a big fan of great art direction and to mention a fellow German: www.meireundmeire.de

Do you have a 'worst mistake' or a most embarrassing moment in your advertising career to date?
I suggested that we mail real grass samples as an invitation for a golf event. My colleagues got rolls of it and we layed it all out in the office. It was quite a mess. Just the earthworm protruding his head was missing. It taught me not to be so stubborn.

Is there a person you have enjoyed working with the most?
Two colleagues at Saatchi Singapore: Graham Kelly, my boss. He opened my eyes for work beyond conventional advertising and gave me the freedom to explore. And Esther Yue - my 'godmom' (production manager at Saatchi Singapore). Without her, none of my projects would have made it past the drawing board.

Who is the most interesting, or most inspiring, or funniest person you have ever met or worked with?
Two inspiring guys: Tong Beng, Director at Odeon Hong Kong, with whom every production is a discovery. And Juggi (Jagdish Ramakrishnan ECD at BBDO). A discussion with him always gets you thinking, whether you agree or not.

What's your favourite leisure activity/hobbies outside of advertising?
I just took up Swing Dancing. The good thing is, they're always short of guys.

Favourite holiday destination?
It might sound a bit cliché, but the best destination is a stop along the way.

Favourite hotels?
A tip for Vietnam: Mekong Xanh Sampan.
Awake on your own boat at the banks of the Mekong River, far away from all the tourists.

Tell me something about yourself that not many people would know
Before joining the industry, I wanted to become a pilot with Lufthansa. My eyesight didn't make the cut. But I managed to get a private pilot license at the age of 16. I guess they weren't worried for a glider to hit an A380.

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A blog for advertising creatives in Asia. To pass on news or advertise on the CB Asia blog, or to subscribe to Campaign Brief Asia or Campaign Brief Australia/NZ magazines, or The Work 09 Annual, email: Kim or Michael

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