”When you get into the media industry without much experience, the ambition level extends and people tend to be bolder”
On how to run a successful agency where the average employee age is 22
May 25, 2022
Lauritzen is one of four partners in Blonde Inc, a creative production agency based in Copenhagen.
— I met Adam, Daniel and Philip, who had just founded Blonde at the age of 15, he says. I wanted to work in the media industry, we clicked right away and I became a big fan of what they did. I grew fast with the company and eventually dropped out of school at the age of 17. A big decision. However, Blonde became my kind of education — working hands-on, producing, and directing films for clients such as Bang & Olufsen, Stine Goya, and Asics. Now, five years later, I’ve moved permanently to Stockholm to open up our newest office overseas.
You seem to have quite a different company culture. How’d you describe Blonde?
— It was founded by a new generation of creatives in 2016 with the purpose of building a creative place with high ceilings, a high pace, and a belief in the younger generation. We visualize and create content for companies, brands, artists, and ourselves. We mainly deliver concept development, film and photography production, and graphic design to our clients. We don’t consider ourselves as a production company or a creative agency, but as a brand that creates for and by the new generation. We also create our own merchandise that has been sold online and through several Danish retailers for many years, such as Storm, and produce collabs with everything from fashion brands to Kendamas, the Japanese toys. We’re also hosting all kinds of events like boxing and CrossFit practises to film screenings, dinners, and parties, Lauritzen explains. He continues:
— Our Copenhagen office has a team of 35 people with an average age of 22. We like to shake the bag a bit and see ourselves as a unit that doesn’t fit in a box but can help global companies ’hit a visual nerve’ to the younger target groups.
— Our company culture is very different — we never hire based on education or experience, but always on the energy, drive, and potential we see in people, which creates amazing energy and teamwork. It’s about shifting the perspective from ’me’ to ’us’ and making the whole team more confident because everyone is in it together. When you get into the media industry without much experience, the ambition level extends and people tend to be bolder than the more experienced employers.
You’ve said that the media industry is conservative and difficult to access. Can you explain what you mean, and what’s the reason?
— When we started out we all came from the traditional media industry where you apply for an internship, print, and scan, make coffee and here and then you get to look over the shoulder and slip in a question. It’s a conservative industry run by an old generation and their perspective — a black circle where people treat themselves like they were treated when they started. But also an old business model, with a lot of middlemen and where the clients’ money is not always treated with respect, Lauritzen states, continuing,
— Our way of working different, in order to make the industry more open and accessible, is to treat people the way my partners weren’t treated, but exactly how they treated me. With respect. Hard work sure pays off, but treating people with respect and care does too.
— We want to educate and teach people how to manage responsibility. Our Blonde program is a 12 week paid course where you come in and work closely with us, hands-on. We scheduled lectures and 1o1 talks where you get to ask all the questions you want, see behind the scenes on big productions but also get to work hands-on with productions. We match what the government would pay you as a student, so you can focus on your work. If you complete the program, you’re offered a full-time contract.
— People have to change their perspective and break the circle. Stop sticking to how it was and start looking at how it wasn’t. Adapting to change instead of working against it is crucial. The most valued creative education is to be on the field and hands-on, make mistakes, learn from them and develop. Industry leaders will have to facilitate that if we want a more open industry.
You’re specialized in producing content for Gen-Z. What tips would you like to share in order to reach out to this target group?
— We grew up with social media and so did all of our colleagues too, which, to some extent, creates a mirror. We’ve always looked for relatable and identifiable content. Something that not necessarily has the biggest depth or meaning but is more visual and energy driven. Just look at influencers! They don’t have a payoff — they have a POV (Point of view, Ed’s note) and style which makes them relevant, to begin with. The same goes with content for Gen-Z — it has to be inspiring. We all know that social media’s pace is beyond anything else. That’s why we have to be bold and able to try things, such as shooting on iPhone, being mysterious, portraying profiles, or making a behind the scenes of the campaign. The most crucial part is that it has to be quick — Gen-Z and social media won’t wait for us, so we have to keep up with their pace as much as possible, says Lauritzen. He continues:
— We also tend to forget how aware Gen-Z is of marketing material. Nowadays, with so many ads and collaborations, they often look right through it. It’s like: ’Don’t bullshit a bullshitter’. Gen-Z don’t want direct sales of products — they want something to look up to or identify themself in. Gen-Z is very visionary and aware, we have to remember that — they want ’cool’ content and communication. A lot of Gen-Z is also looking to be ’a part’ of something, find a context where their voices are heard. It can both be in the preface or in the actual activation. We have to connect with them — they often know better.
— The most important thing to think about is what your end goal is with reaching them. Is it to look cool, to sell products, or because your boss tells you to? If you want to reach us for financial reasons, you have to be aware of what we visually connect with. We see a lot of potential clients coming to us without knowing why and what they are going to do with the content they want us to produce. We then sit down and take a step back, looking at the goals and target group they want to connect with. It’s not just about a high production value anymore or influencers with a lot of followers. You have to communicate and understand who you are speaking to with our generation.
— The best tip is to hire the Gen-Z. And not just hire them, but also listen to them. Their ideas might seem silly, but in the end, they know better than the seniors. I feel like the industry tends to be too egocentric, where it’s all about either who came up with the idea or who has the right title. A lot of wonderful ideas have been scraped based on that, so hire young — and listen! Lauritzen concludes.