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“We Believe in the Power of a Thought”

Gerrit Zinke, MD of creation at thjnk Hamburg, tells LBB how he flew with eagles as a child, why nothing is more important than impact, and what makes discipline so valuable for creatives

“We Believe in the Power of a Thought”

REKORDER, the Berlin-based film and photography creative production studio, is proud to support LBB. Over the upcoming months, as part of the sponsorship of the German Edition, we will celebrate creativity and introduce some of the most innovative and creative minds in the industry. 

In this conversation, we talk with Gerrit Zinke, MD of creation at thjnk Hamburg. Over the course of his career, Gerrit has helped reposition some of the world’s biggest brands and brought ideas to life on an enormous scale. Here, he reflects on Hamburg’s unique creative culture, the moment it first dawned on him that he was ‘a creative’, and how he fosters a comfortable environment for thjnk’s most powerful asset - ideas.


Q> Hi, Gerrit! To start, let’s dial the clock back. What kind of a kid were you growing up, and when did you first realise that you were ‘a creative’?

Gerrit> Back in my school days, my teacher would urge me to concentrate - but my thoughts would travel through the open window and follow an eagle that had just taken off from the school yard. For the rest of the day my thoughts were flying alongside the eagle. So I suppose I have always been a creative. 


Q> For most of your career, you’ve been based in Hamburg. What can you tell us about the city’s creative culture?

Gerrit> For me, the city itself is a significant creative source. I think what feeds that is Hamburg's great natural openness for new things and new ideas. That’s symbolised by the rivers that flow through the city. They keep us - and our minds - on the move.

 

Q> More broadly, what's your impression of where German creativity is at right now?

Gerrit> What excites me about the industry in Germany is that we have understood, in many dimensions, what modern campaigning means. We know that only the precise and correct orchestration of an idea can allow it to have its full impact. We also recognise that there is no space to stand still or relax - we all have to keep learning!

 

Q> I understand that you're now coming up to ten years with thjnk - what is it about the agency which has kept you around for so long?

Gerrit> I have a constant desire for progress, both within myself and the work I create. And therefore I need a place that always pushes me. So thjnk is the perfect fit. The agency is curious, hungry, and sees change not as a danger but as an essential need.


Q> Does thjnk have its own distinct creative culture - and what steps do you take as managing director of creation to maintain that culture?

Gerrit> We believe in the power of a thought. A single thought has the power to change everything. My job is to make sure we have the right culture to enable good ideas: an environment which is equitable and open. 

Ideas are a sensitive asset, so we have to care for them!


Q> Looking back at your own career so far, are there any projects or pieces of work which stand out as especially significant for you?

Gerrit> Yes, there are a few. But what is much more important to me is that we have successfully managed to build up completely new brandings for several of our clients.

I’d say that one example of this has been our work with Audi. Working around the basis of ‘The Future Is An Attitude’, we helped Audi to reposition itself around that philosophy. You can see the results on the brand’s website, and also by watching our flagship film. 


Above: ‘Future Is An Attitude’ formed part of a new brand positioning for Audi. 


Q> Are there any trends in the industry at the moment which are exciting for you?

Gerrit> Oh wow, there are new trends every day and it's extremely exciting to follow them. The key, however, is making sure that you only use the trends with which we can achieve maximum practical impact for our clients.


Q> What's one piece of advice you would give to a young creative looking to get their break in the industry right now?

Gerrit> It's something that sounds very unpopular: discipline. You will only become a champion if you can take a hit and get up again and again.


Q> Finally, the past year has been a difficult one for many. How have you stayed creatively inspired throughout it all? 

Gerrit> The past year has meant a lot of restrictions for all of us. But on the other hand, space has emerged for new things, new forms of communication and new forms of interaction. That was very inspiring, both with our employees as well as our clients.

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