IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE A THING GO RIGHT
In October 2016 creative director Tove Langseth and business director Jacob Sandström took over DDB Stockholm in a shared CEO role. Both had been key to the development of the agency for many years and the move was a natural evolution for the Stockholm office with its history of strong business insights and creative culture. Their latest work continues to be at the forefront of melding creativity, humanity and technology to produce breakthrough ideas. We asked Tove and Jacob about their shared role and how this impacts the inner workings of the agency and the work DDB Stockholm creates for its clients.
So tell us the truth, how do you make this joint CEO role work? Who does the math and who takes the teams out to the club? Do the lines of business and creative ever cross?
Tove Langseth: I guess people find it typical Swedish to share a CEO-role. And we do really share it. From the beginning we had the idea to split up everything quite strict between us, but we often end up discussing most issues together. Which means that even though Jacob naturally is in the driving seat when it comes to money, and I when it comes to the creative stuff, we do bounce most things between us.
Jacob Sandström: I guess we’re much more the same than we thought. Which is good because we trust each other’s decisions when both of us aren’t around. Taking teams out to the club? We both need to shape up there – none of us drink alcohol for God’s sake!
Bernbach felt the environment of the agency was fundamental to great work. “There’s a relationship between the management and the creative person that just can’t be ignored.” How would you say that is reflected at DDB Stockholm today? How does it compare to the early years when it was Paradiset DDB?
JS: To us it’s fundamental that the people at the agency share the same vision, that everyone is interested and contributes to the creative product. We have a saying that is “Creativity in everything” which means that not only the creatives should wave the flag of creativity but everyone, from the guys at reception to a planner working with insights. This mindset is of course extremely important when it comes to the ones leading the agency, that’s where the creativity must start. The group leading the agency really has that belief in common, even though we might go into things with different perspectives.
TL: When I started at Paradiset that was definitely the feeling in the company. Creativity was so natural as two of three leaders were actually creatives. However, today creativity is something much wider and the agency is much more complex in that sense. Creativity is not only communication but also design, digital, PR, media, etc. That makes it even more important to always look at things from a creative perspective. In the end, that’s how we differentiate ourselves from for example a web agency; we always put a creative layer to things.