Top of the Pops met Paul Stechschulte


1. Hi Paul, how are you doing?
Great. Thanks for the interest in interviewing me.

2. You are executive creative director at Arnold Amsterdam in Amsterdam, but  have been around the world. How did you end up here? 
Arnold CCO Pete Favat and I go way back. We used to work together on the “Truth” campaign in the US, while I was at CP+B. Pete gets that in the end all that matters is the work. I enjoyed living in Amsterdam the last time, so the transition back from the Bay area was easy.

3. At Arnold Amsterdam you work for big global brands. What’s it like to create work for different countries all over the world?
Challenging. Especially if you believe that the best work out there taps into cultural trends and oddities. But working globally forces you to be simple with the idea. Universal. Which is something that often gets tossed out early in today’s complex world.

4.More and more international agencies are opening an office in Amsterdam. But there’s still a gap between the native (Dutch) agencies and the international agencies. For Dutch brands it appears to be two different leagues of agencies. Do you think that the native and international agencies can compete in the same ’ad league’?
Yes. There’s insane talent locally here in Amsterdam. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Dutch shops. They punch above their weight always.

5. You once worked for Twitter. Do you think start-ups are influencing ad agencies?
Yes. Unless you’ve been a sleep at the wheel – the agency business is radically changing. Nimbleness is vital. Grab a camera and shoot something. Paint. Draw. Program. Get out there and make stuff. If you’re not making you’re dead.

6. What do you think makes a good creative director?
An ability to put on their consumer hat. To be human. Like the guy you pass on the street on the way to work that sells hot dogs. To stop being a marketer and look at the work as a human being.

7. How do you keep up with all new technology and trends?
Frankly – it’s impossible. The speed at which change is taking place is crazy these days. I do the regular things like read the blogs and allow myself to get deep into the underbelly of the web, but I still believe the best way to stay current is to get out there away from the office and live. Try shit. Put oneself into situations that aren’t a part of the usual day-to-day routine. I’m growing my hair out for 6 months. Then going to randomly walk into a salon and say – “do with it what you like.” Then live with the results.

8. You have been working in the (digital) ad world for years now. Who do you reckon is a new leader in the ad world and why?
Everyday it’s someone different. Wexley School for girls on Monday. W+K on Tuesday. Red bull Wednesday. Droga5 Thursday. Beck Friday. Etc. etc. It’s an intensely competitive business. I’d like to see more of us use that competitive energy for good. With the goal of building up the creditability of advertising in general.

9. What is your vision on the future of advertising in about ten years?
I see an ad world where brands have to be more authentic. You can’t be all about hype and build your brand on a shady foundation in the modern era. Slapping your logo on the Mars Rover 3 won’t convince people to drink your sugar water. Brands will need to be more and more enablers, not just badges.

110. You’ve been working for the biggest brands in the world. Do you have an international (or Dutch) brand on your list to work for?
Vanmoof bikes (Dutch). Uniqlo. Camper. Spotify.

11. You seem to have a busy professional life. What does your offline life look like?
3 kids. A wife who’s my best friend. And a serious desire to spend more time with all of them.

12. With a 24/7 online (and ad) world, how do you keep a clean balance between your work and private life?
I don’t. It’s always been a blurry messy blend.

13. What is your strength as a person? And what is your Achilles heel?
Strength: constant pursuit of perfection. Achilles Heel: constant pursuit of perfection.

Special thanks to FinchFactor for getting us this interview.

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Michael is mede-oprichter van Pop the Campaign en werkzaam als creative lead in Amsterdam. Twitter: @mkouwenhoven

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