AdForum Exclusive: An Interview with Lode Schaeffer, Creative Director and Owner at Indie Amsterdam

AdForum sits down with INDIE Amsterdam's Creative Director and Owner, Lode Schaeffer to discuss the agency's work ethic and their successful start to 2017.

By Sarah Cullen

 

AdForumL INDIE has a very unique agency culture.  How vital is that culture to the creative work created by INDIE?

Lode: Culture is everything.

Consumers today decide if they will consume advertising or not. Usage of ad blockers increased by 30 % last year and on-demand services continue growing. Advertising no longer competes with just other advertising. It competes with all popular content. The competitor of Heineken is not only Budweiser, but also Frank Underwood. So just sending brand messages to consumers is not sufficient.

At INDIE, we want to make brands part of popular culture. In order to do that, we work together with people who define that culture. And we give them space. To create that space, we have an ego-free culture of trust, where everybody feels safe.

INDIE is a culture of like-minded yet independent souls. Clients, creatives, strategic planners, account people, producers, artists, we all have the same ambition. And we all trust and help each other to fulfill that ambition. We don't give each other feedback, we give each other feed forward.

Whenever we meet new people, in a job interview, pitch-presentation or production meeting, we always check if we have the same ambition and if we can be open to each other. Once there is energy in the room, we know we can be successful. And that all begins with culture.

AdForum: INDIE prides iteself on creating work that in rooted in pop culture.  How does this affect your creactive research process, in a category that is constantly evolving? 

Lode: First, everybody working at INDIE is in close touch with what is going on in popular culture. Not just the creatives or art buyers. It is essential to keep ourselves sharp and in sync with the constant development of  popular culture.

Second, we have close collaborations with pop culture producers, like record labels and design studios. We involve them from the start of every project. They involve us with their new developments. We need that constant back and forth to keep our output rooted in pop culture.

AdForum: A lot of work created by INDIE is the re-branding of companies.  What is the biggest challenge in creaiting a new image for already established brand?

Lode: The biggest challenge is making everybody part of both the process and the result. Not only the communications department. Everybody working at the client organization: the store employees, the callcentre, the salespeople, the CEO, they all have to live and breathe the new brand.

We never impose a new brand. We always make sure that everybody in the the company is involved in the process of creation. And when everybody is involved, everybody can contribute, bringing new visions and ideas to the table. Here also, our open, ego-free culture is a big help.

AdForum: Congratulations on being shortlisted as one of the top three agencies in the Netherlands.  With such a succesful year so far, what is next for INDIE?

Lode: Like all ambitious companies we want to grow. But as we grow, we have to safeguard our culture, the heart of our success.

New clients, new staff, new collaborations: it is all about people. If there is no personal fit, we will not proceed. We can't really. If there is no energy, how can we bring a brand to life, make it part of popular culture?

Finding that agency-client fit is always a challenge. That's why the Dutch pond will dry out soon enough for us, and if we want to keep on fishing we need to expand abroad.We believe we can expand our culture by collaborating with other open, ego-free cultures from all around the world, both agencies and brands. 

If we keep our culture strong, we are invincible.