The Work That Made Me in association withLBB

The Work That Made Me: Jan Taubert

Talent Agency
London, UK
ITB Worldwide’s recently-promoted group director Jan Taubert reflects on the creative inspirations and work that’s shaped his career

Jan Taubert is group director for ITB Worldwide, the pioneering Talent + Influencer marketing agency informed by culture, powered by data and built on human insight, where he delivers strategic and creatively-led projects rooted in fashion, design, music, sport and entertainment for brands and individuals alike. With in-depth experience across the Entertainment Marketing industry, Jan specialises in Talent and Influencer Procurement, Brand & Talent Partnerships, VIP Services, Branded Content, Music Consultancy, Rights Clearance and Product Integration.

The ad from my childhood that stays with me…

Growing up in East Germany – a socialist country – we didn’t have advertising as such, but because we were watching Western TV, we would see commercial adverts running on Western German TV, but for products we couldn’t buy. Weirdly that sets you up to remember anything; you could wake me up in the middle of the night, shout out a brand name at me and I could sing you the jingle because that’s how alien advertising was at the time. 

But I always come back to the Levi’s adverts because of the combination of music paired with image and the right talent – that worked well for them as a brand and was iconic. From the one featuring Mannish Boy by John Lee Hooker, to the ad with Brad Pitt, Nick Kamen and Flat Eric, it’s hard to choose just one but a really good way of encapsulating zeitgeist and pairing it with music. 

The platform that made me want to get into the industry…

I tried being a musician but lacked talent. That made me realise that I was probably better suited to work in the industry not as a performer, but in a more behind the scenes role. And that’s how I structured my career from doing an internship at a radio station in the music department, selecting the music for programming aged 14, to working in a record store and then working in a record label and then a mastering studio, before getting to where I am today. It was very much what I wanted to do since the start of my teenage years.

The creative work that I keep revisiting… 

Mad Men is that piece of work for me. I regularly rewatch the show for its writing, direction and  music. All of the characters are fully formed and have storylines that see them develop, fail and grow, that’s the interesting thing for me – regardless of whether you necessarily like them as a character. Succession also does this really well today.

My first professional project…

That takes me back to when I was working in the record label that was producing CDs of old jazz and swing music from the 20s, 30s and 40s. We would take old shellac recordings that you used to play on a gramophone at 78 speed and we’d remaster them to restore the sound and get rid of the noises that naturally come with recording in those days. At the time, the master recording rights only lasted for 50 years, so we re-released mostly public domain recordings. I had to learn a lot and very quickly about copyright and how it relates to use in products and adverts and that’s really what got me into rights and music clearance later on in my career and being very good with contracts, having in-depth understanding of copyright. 

The piece of work that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

I once declined to work on a project where the creative required to use our former Head of State of East Germany, for a bank advert. Having lived under that dictatorship, it just didn’t feel right and I couldn’t align that with my own feelings of the past - so I declined to work on it.  The ad was never produced in the end, because the estate declined the use of his image too.

The piece of work that still makes me jealous…

The Simpsons x Balenciaga collaboration that came out in 2021. It plays on everything that’s important to fashion but also to celebrity and how clothes and brands can make a man, even a man like Homer!

The creative project that changed my career…

At my previous company working together with Saatchi & Saatchi (who came up with the creative concept) to secure Harvey Keitel as the character Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction for Direct Line which they went on to use in campaigns over a number of years in the UK. It was the first and last time that Quentin Tarantino allowed for his intellectual property to be used in an advertising campaign. 

Saatchi came to us for a project that had never been done before and, not one to back down from a challenge, we made it happen. That has progressed into a 10+ year relationship with Saatchi in which we’ve gone on to produce award-winning work together including Operation Black Vote and the most recent EE work with Tom Ellis. 

The work that I’m proudest of…

The Marni x Zalando collaboration – because we worked on it right from the concepting stage through to securing Marni as the collaboration partner and then securing the brand partners Vans, Timberland, Reebok and Dr Martens. Then, also seeing that through to the product stage and seeing the Marni designed shoes and then wearing them. It was the first time somebody had ever done a cross-brand collaboration – Only a couple of brands have done it, because it’s quite a complex thing to pull off to align brand guidelines and production schedules for all partners, so it was an even bigger reward that it worked out. 

The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

Miley Cyrus x Magnum. It’s refreshing to see how Miley as an artist approaches creativity. From a brand point of view, it shows that you can get a lot out of an artist or talent by allowing for that creativity to happen with limited restrictions, because that’s when a true talent and brand partnership can really come to life. 

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