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Leo Burnett Company, Limited
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Frankfurt

Leo Q+A: Alexander Haase

Leo Q+A has returned! Straight from our Leo Burnett Frankfurt office we're happy to introduce you to Alexander Haase, creative director (and (clearly) David Hasselhoff's #1 fan). Read on to hear Alex's thoughts on the current state of the ad industry and more.

Name: Alexander Haase
Title: Creative Director

Describe your role in one word: Words.

If you weren’t in advertising, what would you be doing? I started out as a journalist, so I probably would be doing something along those lines.

What’s on your to-do list this year? Continuing my mission to make sure that every citizen of the United States understands that despite popular belief David Hasselhoff is NOT a big star in Germany, especially not a big rock star. He scored one hit in 1990 with a song about freedom that was popular with many people from former East Germany – a lucky historical coincidence, but that’s it. Nothing else. Spread the word!

What's the first thing you do in the morning when you arrive? Checking the online editions of several German and international news outlets. (My boss will not be reading this Q&A, right?)

Where do you do your best thinking? While relaxing at a pool in the south of France, celebrating my pay raise. (Just in case he’s reading this after all.)

Do you have a personal motto? No. Maybe I should make one up that would make me look very interesting and world-wise, but... no.

What creative talent would you most like to have? Songwriting – an unfulfilled dream I share with David Hasselhoff.

What’s your greatest advertising-related fear? Fear is a big word for this, but I am slightly worried by the larger ad world’s tendency in recent years to value technological solutions higher than creative ones. Not that technology isn’t important – it’s simply that technology alone won’t solve our industry’s problems.

What’s your current state of mind about the advertising industry? Unsubstantiated optimism.

What living creative person do you most admire? I admire anyone who has more musical talent than me (i.e. everyone except David Hasselhoff).

How would you like to end your career? Speaking of career ending – you know who ended his career, in Germany at least, more than twenty years ago? David Hasselhoff!

What do you consider your greatest creative achievement? That I haven’t given up trying yet.

What’s your idea of advertising happiness? A great client. A great campaign. No testing. Big success. Everybody’s happy. Awards are being won. It’s Friday afternoon.

If you could be a character in any commercial, who would it be? I can’t think of any character right now who I would want to be. If I don’t go to the gym more often, I might turn into Bibendum, though (iconic mascot of Michelin).

What advertising lingo do you most overuse? I’m afraid I use quite a lot of unnecessary business lingo unthinkingly. I only notice when I see the annoyed expressions on the faces of my non-adworld friends.

What’s your biggest advertising regret? Not having fought enough for a great idea is always regrettable.

What do you think most people misunderstand about the business? I think many people either see us as evil masterminds trying to manipulate consumers in ever more sinister ways or as shallow loudmouths. At least that’s kind of what I thought before I started working in advertising. The truth is, you get to meet quite a lot of interesting, intelligent, sensible people in our industry. And only a few of them are evil.

If you could change one thing about advertising, what would it be? Less testing. I understand that it can be helpful, but often it is not. Everybody would be better of without it: the creatives, the audiences, even the clients,... most of all those poor focus groups who have to spend entire afternoons eating lukewarm candy bars in airless rooms last refurbished in 1993.

What’s the quality you most admire in a creative director? Analytic thinking.

What’s the quality you most admire in an account executive? Creative thinking.

And, finally, what’s your favorite ad/campaign ever? I have the greatest respect for all campaigns that manage to keep a high level of creativity over a long period of time. Rather surprisingly considering the volatile nature of our business, there are quite a few of those. If I had to single out one of them, I would choose AMV/BBDO’s "White Out Of Red" Economist campaign. Probably because it’s all about words.

See below for a look back at our previous Leo Q+A's:

Leo Q+A: Daniel Spadaro

Leo Q+A: David Kuta

Leo Q+A: Sarah Tynan

Leo Q+A: Josh Raper

Leo Q+A: Charley Wickman

Leo Q+A: David Schermer

Leo Q+A: Anne Beebe