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Interview to Elke Klinkhammer, creative director in Portfolio Night 8, Germany

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Aug
3,
2010
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Elke Klinkhammer has been Creative Director at Neue Digitale/Razorfish for the past four years. During this time Adidas grew to a leading client and her groundbreaking work for Adidas Y-3 and Adidas Originals was awarded an impressive list of honours at many national and international award shows.

Previously, Elke promoted the integration of above and below the line communication at Jung von Matt in Hamburg. She has also won accolades with her creative approach for ONE and The American School.

Elke began her career as a designer, choreographer and artist, prior to focusing more attention on the interactive space. For Elke the innate urge for expression is the foundation of her work, which accompanies her professionally or while backpacking through the world’s remote corners.

As a member of the Art Directors Club Germany, Elke is a forward-thinking ambassador for interactive design and has sat on the interactive juries of the world’s greatest award shows including Clio Awards, New York Festivals, London International Awards and Cannes Lions.

What do you think of the Portfolio Night experience? Have you learnt anything from it?

I was envious to this opportunity and would love to have had a chance to reflect my work when I was a junior wrestling with my future. Getting condensed feedback from several Creative Directors must be enlightening.

Who was your first tutor in advertising?

Actually it was a long and winded road that brought me to advertising. But during this time I was inspired by talents like David Carson and David Bowie. But the first direct impulse came from Wilhelm Schürmann, an art collector I worked with. He taught me to think big and without limitation.

How many women are there in your creative department? And the percentage in comparison to men percentage.

Within our creative department, eleven out of 28 team members are women. In my female perspective to mathematics, that is around 40%.

What is the campaign that surprised you most as far as communication to women goes?

There are actually two campaigns that directly come to mind:

One was last year’s Nike Women vs Men Challenge. There seems to be this everlasting instinct in each of us trying to prove we’re the better sex. And once this instinct is being addressed, we start fighting about everything: who’s better when it comes to driving cars, to communicating or to running. And yes, this commercial made me want to grab my shoes and go for a run for the women’s team.

The second one is the ongoing Dove initiative for real beauty. What surprised me was not only the client’s courage but also where this campaign led to: with all the discussions arising around it, it definitely led the way to women’s magazines publishing fashion pieces with “real” women today.

According to your own experience in Portfolio Night, What is the level of the young creative women?

Independent on gender the level different as well as the level of experience. But in general, when it comes to presentation women are a bit more unconfident, although they have great work in their portfolio. Maybe women need more boost.

Name the best current creative woman in your opinion.

There are creative women all around us. With such famous names as Vivienne Westwood, Kathryn Bigelow and Twyla Tharp, just to name a few. But when I think about advertising, I have to admit that creative women are being underrepresented. Yes, there are a lot of women doing great design and having brilliant ideas. And yes, there are women in the executive boards, but most of them have an economic or strategic background. It seems that now is the time for us to take the chief creative jobs, too. Therefore, let me add one more advice to the young creative woman: be smart. Be brave. And take it to the top!

What is the best campaign that you have worked on as creative director?

Working for adidas was thrilling – particular for Y-3. We created over the years several interactive product experiences e.g. the approach “reflection” based on Yohji Yamamoto’s collection inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, where a mirror reflects what’s actually hidden. Another interactive approach introduced a new way of browsing a collection within a beautiful dynamic grid.

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