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Agency Life

The Creative Solution

The Creative Solution

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

January 23, 2019

Finding the answer means thinking about things differently.

"It’s important to feel good and have trust in the future you build with the people you’re working with every day."

Photographer. Illustrator. Executive Creative Director. Werner Van Reck of Havas Brussels shares how he and his team are using creativity to solve problems.

 

How’d you get your start in advertising?

When I was 12 years old, I really liked to draw. Watching the commercials on television at the time (there were a lot of animated ones), it seemed like a lot of fun to think about fresh ideas and make funny jokes.

When I was 16, I worked in a small ad agency during the holidays. They happened to need a couple of illustrations of some kind, and so they were soon convinced I was their man. After my studies, I took my first steps in the ad industry in that very agency, doing layout work.


If you hadn’t become an adman, what would you be doing now?



Surely I would have become a photographer. Apart from design and typography, I also studied photography, and it’s still my biggest passion. (At the moment, I’m working on a project using only a Polaroid camera, and I had my first solo exposition in a gallery in Antwerp at the start of 2018.)

Are you in your first or second career?

This is definitely my first career, my last, my everything. (Thanks, Barry!)



Why Havas?

I was working at Wunderman Antwerp when Ann Voorspoels, who is our managing director at Havas Brussels, called me to ask if I was in for a challenge. Antwerp is only about an hour north of Brussels. After having some talks with Havas and coming to the conviction that building a Havas Village in Brussels was a huge competitive advantage, I decided to sign.

And, of course, the people. It’s important to feel good and have trust in the future you build with the people you’re working with every day.

"It’s making connections between the usual and the unexpected. Creativity is freedom.

"


How does a city like Brussels inspire you and your team?


It’s not really the city itself that inspires me, but the people who live here and with whom I work. Brussels is a metropolitan city and the capital of Belgium, of course, but most importantly, the local culture defined by its inhabitants is what makes this city so inspiring.

What’s creativity?

It’s a gift from heaven. And what’s more, everybody has it. But not everybody is using their full potential. Creativity is about thinking in another way and looking at things in a different light. It’s making connections between the usual and the unexpected. Creativity is freedom.



What’s the best thing about being an executive creative director?

I do love leading the creative. It’s my task to encourage everybody, including our clients, to use their imagination to the fullest and come up with new opportunities or solutions for the business problems presented to us. That’s what I like the most: helping people, companies, and organizations stand out in their industries.



The biggest challenge?

To keep up with the challenges and evolutions in our industry. The time when creatives were magicians who came up with “ta-da!” (i.e, the idea) is over. Now, it’s about teamwork. All of us—creatives, technologists, data-crunchers—must look for the best solutions in unison with the client. A copywriter and an art director, hidden at the office and working until 11 p.m. with a bottle of whiskey, won’t do the trick anymore.


What’s something you wish advertisers would never do again?

Decide that they will handle the media by themselves. I think that was the biggest mistake ever.

It’s as if the owner of an art gallery told an artist, “You think about your idea, and I will decide in what medium I will present it.”



Something about advertising that you hope never changes?

Doubt, which forces us to look further for the best idea, not settle for just a good idea. Doubt feeds creativity. That’s why we need to embrace doubt, and (sometimes) that means failure. It’s the only way to learn and to fuel our will to do better going forward.

Your biggest lesson in life, so far?

Do good for people, and you will receive that in return. Be a good person in our industry. Respect everyone and pay attention to what people are concerned about. Never use creativity as fuel for arrogance; always see it as a helpful tool to achieve the goals of the people that you’re working for and with.


Your best advice for young people hoping to get into the ad business?

To work in our communication industry, it’s good to be a communicator. Always listen first, then express yourself, communicate, and publish on social media. Be critical, and love brands.

"It’s important to feel good and have trust in the future you build with the people you’re working with every day."

Photographer. Illustrator. Executive Creative Director. Werner Van Reck of Havas Brussels shares how he and his team are using creativity to solve problems.

 

How’d you get your start in advertising?

When I was 12 years old, I really liked to draw. Watching the commercials on television at the time (there were a lot of animated ones), it seemed like a lot of fun to think about fresh ideas and make funny jokes.

When I was 16, I worked in a small ad agency during the holidays. They happened to need a couple of illustrations of some kind, and so they were soon convinced I was their man. After my studies, I took my first steps in the ad industry in that very agency, doing layout work.


If you hadn’t become an adman, what would you be doing now?



Surely I would have become a photographer. Apart from design and typography, I also studied photography, and it’s still my biggest passion. (At the moment, I’m working on a project using only a Polaroid camera, and I had my first solo exposition in a gallery in Antwerp at the start of 2018.)

Are you in your first or second career?

This is definitely my first career, my last, my everything. (Thanks, Barry!)



Why Havas?

I was working at Wunderman Antwerp when Ann Voorspoels, who is our managing director at Havas Brussels, called me to ask if I was in for a challenge. Antwerp is only about an hour north of Brussels. After having some talks with Havas and coming to the conviction that building a Havas Village in Brussels was a huge competitive advantage, I decided to sign.

And, of course, the people. It’s important to feel good and have trust in the future you build with the people you’re working with every day.

"It’s making connections between the usual and the unexpected. Creativity is freedom.

"


How does a city like Brussels inspire you and your team?


It’s not really the city itself that inspires me, but the people who live here and with whom I work. Brussels is a metropolitan city and the capital of Belgium, of course, but most importantly, the local culture defined by its inhabitants is what makes this city so inspiring.

What’s creativity?

It’s a gift from heaven. And what’s more, everybody has it. But not everybody is using their full potential. Creativity is about thinking in another way and looking at things in a different light. It’s making connections between the usual and the unexpected. Creativity is freedom.



What’s the best thing about being an executive creative director?

I do love leading the creative. It’s my task to encourage everybody, including our clients, to use their imagination to the fullest and come up with new opportunities or solutions for the business problems presented to us. That’s what I like the most: helping people, companies, and organizations stand out in their industries.



The biggest challenge?

To keep up with the challenges and evolutions in our industry. The time when creatives were magicians who came up with “ta-da!” (i.e, the idea) is over. Now, it’s about teamwork. All of us—creatives, technologists, data-crunchers—must look for the best solutions in unison with the client. A copywriter and an art director, hidden at the office and working until 11 p.m. with a bottle of whiskey, won’t do the trick anymore.


What’s something you wish advertisers would never do again?

Decide that they will handle the media by themselves. I think that was the biggest mistake ever.

It’s as if the owner of an art gallery told an artist, “You think about your idea, and I will decide in what medium I will present it.”



Something about advertising that you hope never changes?

Doubt, which forces us to look further for the best idea, not settle for just a good idea. Doubt feeds creativity. That’s why we need to embrace doubt, and (sometimes) that means failure. It’s the only way to learn and to fuel our will to do better going forward.

Your biggest lesson in life, so far?

Do good for people, and you will receive that in return. Be a good person in our industry. Respect everyone and pay attention to what people are concerned about. Never use creativity as fuel for arrogance; always see it as a helpful tool to achieve the goals of the people that you’re working for and with.


Your best advice for young people hoping to get into the ad business?

To work in our communication industry, it’s good to be a communicator. Always listen first, then express yourself, communicate, and publish on social media. Be critical, and love brands.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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