Ying-Yang Dynamic: Tobias Rabe & Tobias von Aesch

Havas Germany
Full Service
Düsseldorf, Munich, Hamburg, Germany
See Profile

Tobias Rabe
Creative Director Havas Düsseldorf

Tobias von Aesch
Creative Director Havas Düsseldorf

How did you meet, and how long have you worked together?

We met at Havas Düsseldorf about three years ago. Back then, we were working on a pitch together when different teams got combined. That was the first time we actually worked commonly on the same project, and we quickly discovered that we had great team spirit. Shortly after, our previous creative partners switched agencies/units, and we thought, well, let’s give it a try and became thus a creative duo. From this point on, our gut feeling should prove us right.


How would you describe the relationship between you two? In what ways has the dynamic changed since you first began working together?

Like in every good relationship, ours is based on respect as well as brutal honesty. Which often can result in productive discussions and better results. This is something we agreed on naturally right from the beginning. We both share a quite similar mindset but are yet diverse types of people with different strengths – kind of like a Ying-Yang dynamic. And that’s the beauty of our work relationship. If we were too identical and would never disagree with each other, we would lack at least one more perspective that’s crucial to think outside the box. We need our sometimes disparate opinions to find ideas beyond and critically question ourselves.


Tell us about the first campaign you’ve worked on as a duo.

One of our clients is German news broadcaster ntv. Last year, we were asked to develop a new, evocative campaign – so we wanted to come up with something that makes people think and discuss. A campaign that is provocative but objective at the same time. With our team, we developed an overarching idea that ticked all these boxes. More precisely, we combined shocking images depicting current topics with the German word ‘Egal’, which analogously translates to “So what?” – a quite common comment on the internet. Our claim ‘Egal ist keine Meinung’ (‘Indifferent is no opinion’) became an indirect call to action for people to rethink and to educate themselves to form a real opinion on topics that matter.


Do you have a favorite campaign you’ve worked on together? What makes it special?

When it comes to a favorite campaign, we are quick to agree. And this couldn’t be more German: For Citroën‘s 100th anniversary, we changed the brand name of Citroën. Like officially. Citroën became ‘Zitrön’ because most Germans are unable to pronounce the brand‘s name correctly. So we ‘Germanized’ it. The rebranding was on every channel and was supported by a holistic campaign plus PR strategy. It was a lot of fun to see how it created an insane buzz and that even other brands or media/news outlets covered this story. Every day we sat together reading comments and posts of every reaction. Good times.


What has been the hardest part of working together? How do you resolve creative conflicts?

One thing that we had to learn was to align and respect our individual energy levels. Both of us do not have the same level of energy every day of the week. So we realized quickly that short, intense discussions are way healthier and more productive than endless meetings for us.

This also refers to your second part of the question: Our quick interactions lead to answers. That doesn’t always mean we share the same answer, but we always leave our sessions with a plan on how to proceed efficiently. As mentioned before, we ultimately trust each other. When one of us wants to move forward and has valid points to do so, the other one sticks back, even if he disagrees. Different points of view can co-exist without harsh feelings. When you feel someone puts a lot of heart in it, let them prove you wrong and create something together.


Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives looking for a partner or a duo just getting their start?

Go for a beer together first. You get to know someone better spending one night out than in a month of working together. Also, trust your gut because, in the end, there is no formula to finding a good partner. Furthermore, getting along does not mean you always have to agree with each other.


Do you have a dream account that you haven’t had the opportunity to work on?

Neither one of us has a specific one. All clients that are fearless and want to test new grounds are great.


How has the pandemic impacted working with your partner? Do you have any creative tips on how to collaborate when you’re working from home?

The pandemic has changed everything and massively influenced our ways of working. We still stick to having daily calls and updates. But we also nurse our rituals like having a virtual beer in front of the screen, which we find quite important interpersonally – as already mentioned before. What also works very well for us is calling each other randomly throughout the day without having a specific topic. Not only does creativity live from the spontaneous exchange, but we should never forget to see the people and to make sure we take care of one another. So call your colleague and brighten their day every once in a while.