Curiosity is a great source of inspiration
Q: Before coming to live communication industry, you worked as a journalist. How has the path from journalism led you to the events industry? Are there any similarities between them?
Curiosity is a great source of inspiration. Curiosity and a blank surface. Curiosity inspires me. Looking and curiosity are the basis of all forms of creativity. It helps me to think of the question behind the question. Daring to question yourself. What do I see? And what does it tell me? What can I do with it? What do I want with it? It is the fuel for journalists, as well as for our profession in the live communication industry.
Art is the oxygen of life
Q: You are also a passionate art lover, particularly of poetry. How do you combine the love of art with your work in experiential marketing?
Art is the oxygen of life. Culture shows us who we are and where we come from. It asks questions and holds us a mirror.
Q: In your speech at Conventa Crossover you said that the fun part in event design starts with four words: momentum, impact, context, content. Could you, please, elaborate for our readers?
In my opinion these four elements are essential for a good concept. Many of the things we do and create can be summed up with these words. We embrace the momentum, celebrate this with impact (reach), create shareable content and place the festivity in an appropriate strategic context.
Q: And you said that inspiration, curiosity and imagination are the source of all creativity.
I would not have been able to describe it better myself. In Dutch there is a famous statement, “Als je doet wat je deed, krijg je wat je kreeg”, which means “if you do what you did, you get what you got.” With this I want to say that we have to dare to renew, enrich, take on the challenge.
Q: You founded XSAGA, one of the most influential and most awarded live communication agencies in Europe, in 2001. How has the industry changed in the last 17 years?
The traditional “above the line” agencies are swallowed up or seek the connection with online communication agencies. A good example is Sir Martin Sorrell who bought Dutch online media agency, MediaMonks, for 300 million euros. This turn to the left, which is made in the direction of online marketing, offers a huge opportunity for our industry. With “living communication” we can bridge the gap on the right side.
Q: Among others, you have worked with U2, Coldplay, etc. How challenging is to prepare an event with such huge stars?
As Monty Python once said: “You are all individuals”. It never starts with a big name, but with a big idea. Then the names follow automatically. We are only really happy when we present our customers with an appropriate story that has been thought through down to the smallest details on the basis of ‘thé big idea’.
Q: At Conventa Crossover you quoted Jim Jarmusch »Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination,« who had quoted Jean-Luc Godard »It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.« To imply that stealing ideas is ok, is a very bold statement. Could you explain to our readers its background?
You should see this statement metaphorically. It is like many creatives act, such as Picasso, Einstein and Hans van Maanen. Steal from the best, learn from them and act to it. In everything we do, we are a product of our past. We always do it on the shoulders of people who have gone before us. It is not copying, but creating.
Q: Where do you see the future of live marketing? How is it going to develop?
As described earlier, I see the development in online communication as a huge opportunity in the near future for our industry, the industry of living communication. An inspiring and hopeful era, where we are seen. Where we will get opportunities and use them.
Everything has just started…
Q: And for the end: who is your favourite poet and why?
That can change every week. Currently, the work of Ida Gerhardt inspires me. Especially the piece: “Alles is pas aangevangen. Ongemeten zijn de kansen: Orpheus liet de stenen dansen” meaning “Everything has just started. Unmeasured are the chances: Orpheus let the stones dance.” This says a lot in general and a lot about our profession.