Growing up in rural western Germany, Kristine Holzhausen’s TV time was limited. So whenever she managed to get in front of a television, she was enchanted by everything on it, including the commercials. Decades later, her love for advertising continues to blossom.
Now executive creative director at DDB Düsseldorf, she’s been behind some of the country’s most-awarded work, from the history-rewriting brilliance of Stabilo Boss’ ‘Highlight the Remarkable’, giving women’s stories the prominence they deserve, to the launch of the breast-cancer fighting Pink Ribbon ‘Care While You Care’ range.
Last week Kristine was announced as a member of the Direct and Outdoor categories at eurobest. Ahead of the awards, LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with her.
LBB> Where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you?
Kristine> I grew up in a small village with the wonderful name, Würgendorf. I was a very happy and very optimistic child. I spent a lot of time in nature during my childhood, but I also enjoyed going to school.
LBB> What do you remember about your early thoughts on advertising? Were you interested from an early age?
Kristine> My parents tried to keep my sister and me away from the TV. That might be one reason I enjoyed watching advertising so much. The first thing about ads I really remember were some funny German jingles like: “Bonduelle ist das famose Zartgemüse aus der Dose” ["Bonduelle is the fabulous canned vegetables"].
LBB> I didn't grow up in Germany so I'm intrigued, what sort of advertising for what brands had an impact on you?
Kristine> As a teenager I was more interested in international brands. For example, I loved to watch the Levi’s commercials.
LBB> When did you first consider going into advertising as a career?
Kristine> When I was around 10 years old I got a poster from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and just fell in love with this picture. Then I became a little obsessed with the artist and found out that his profession was a graphic designer – that settled my choice of career.
LBB> Early on, were there any projects or particular clients that your learned a lot from?
Kristine> At the beginning of my career I worked for BMW for several years. And learned a lot about everything. About conception, production and the handling of large projects.
LBB> What lesson or piece of advice do you wish you'd had earlier in your career?
Kristine> That's not easy to answer. There are so many things you learn over the years that I would like to have known before. I think the most important thing I have learned is to listen to my gut feeling.
LBB> Your work on Stabilo - Highlight the Remarkable - was definitely remarkable as a campaign! What was that experience like and what do you think about it when you reflect on it now?
Kristine> Thanks! The experience was somehow overwhelming. The first moment we saw the idea we knew that we were looking at an outstanding piece of work. But we could never imagine that it become so popular – that's something you can only wish for.
LBB> Which recent projects are you most proud of and why?
Kristine> Sure, I’m proud of the Stabilo - Highlight the Remarkable campaign. Because it's not only successful, but also puts the spotlight on women who weren't treated right in the past.
LBB> You're on the eurobest Outdoor and Direct jury. How do you feel about those kinds of advertising in Europe right now? What are agencies getting right and what are they getting wrong?
Kristine> As we already started pre-juding I saw some very good ideas for Direct. Outdoor so far seems not to be the strongest category.
I would like to be the person who knows which agencies are doing the right thing and what is wrong. Then DDB Düsseldorf would be the most successful agency in this category.
LBB> Who are your creative heroes and why?
Kristine> I don’t know the creatives, but the ones who did the Snickers ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign might be my heroes. These commercials always make me laugh.
LBB>What do you like to do in your spare time? Any current obsessions?
Kristine> We have three very agile boys at home… which limits the spare time thing a little! But my all-time favourite obsession is reading books.