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A day with Ogilvy, A Colour Bright & Segways!

We were spoilt in Copenhagen last year as we basked in 25 degree heat for the entire trip, apparently we caught their only glimpse of a Danish summer.

We weren’t so fortunate this year in Berlin.


“…we’re in for a treat…”

Torrential rain greeted us on day two. Not what we had hoped for. We were spoilt in Copenhagen last year as we basked in 25 degree heat for the entire trip, apparently we caught their only glimpse of a Danish summer.

We weren’t so fortunate this year in Berlin.

After breakfast, we head off to our second studio visit. German transport runs like clockwork leaving a lingering question of just how in the UK, we struggle just as much as we do!

We promptly arrive at digital innovation studio, A Colour Bright where Sven – their MD & Co-founder – keenly welcomes us. Immediately we are greeted by a live dashboard of how one of their digital products was performing. Simple but powerful graphs and charts provide live data that helps influence decision making and customer support throughout the day.

We know we’re in for a treat.

Sven introduces the studio and ushers us into a bright meeting space where he shares case studies on the gleaming successes that we all hear about, but also the complications the team had to overcome. He still has hurdles and isn’t shy in bringing these to the table. His honesty resonates with all of us when he talks about about the difficulties of trying to create a game-changing internal product, whilst managing client demands, personal challenges and time off for the team and dealing with the general curveballs that life throws at you.

When I hear people talk about their struggles as well as their successes, it reminds me that even the highest achievers ARE simply human at the end of the day.

It’s easy sometimes to feel the imposter syndrome; like everyone else has got it sussed and is qualified but the rest of us are just feeling our way through.

We leave feeling inspired and humbled as Sven does an incredible job running a fantastic studio, but is frank about the hurdles that he faces. For instance, after launching a fantastic product, how do you deal with the tension of how long to keep servicing it whilst waiting for it to become commercially rewarding? But despite the challenges Sven is a man that looks ahead and identifies issues and hurdles far in advance. This probably contributes to his relaxed and amiable demeanour.

Heading through another downpour we grab lunch before injecting a new lease of life by causing a small amount of havoc on the roads on a Segway tour around the city.

The ‘graveyard’ shift is usually the one after lunch, and we’ve learned from experience of facilitating these programmes that there is a serious point to doing something like this…

As your body begins to metabolise the food you’ve eaten at lunchtime it dumps a load of insulin to regulate sugar levels. With this also comes the release of Serotonin and Melatonin, both of which cause drowsiness. So you need to just plan for that and do something that isn’t too mentally taxing, whilst being energising and helps people stay engaged.

All of this to say that if you want to land an important message, don’t organise it for the after lunch slot!

As we zip around the city taking in the history and culture, folk also have the space to process how they can use the information they’re getting from the sessions to solve some of challenges they face.

It’s the mental equivalent to creating a beautiful stew, placing it in the oven and leaving it for a few hours. When you come back to what you put in originally, it’s a richer and more balanced mix for having had time to just meld and merge together.


After heading back to the hotel to get changed we are fortunate to be close enough to our last visit of the day to just have to pop around the corner. Ogilvy & Mather await!

Before we reach their offices, we get a taste of their playfulness and creativity from a note on the wall below.

Simon, one of the senior leadership team in the studio, has made time to spend a couple of hours with us. He is a man who has built his career on relationships and he sought to share his experience with us on how to be successful in playing the long game.

As you can imagine, he was charming, generous and incredibly sharp. For reference Ogilvy & Mather employ 22,950 people in 126 countries, but the Berlin office is a small niche outpost employing about 30 people. They epitomise being a Global but local agency.

As we move into the meeting space there is a shopping trolley containing every award that a design agency could hope for. Cannes Lions, D&AD Pencils, The London Internal Awards, Mobius Awards etc… etc…

Simon spoke about how it’s first and foremost about producing great work and not so much focusing on the awards themselves… His job as a leader is to creates a space for this to happen. Some of gems that struck me were as followed:

  • The most senior individuals in the business intentionally create time to catch up for a minimum of an hour for a monthly 1:1 with each team member, even the interns.
  • Your personal network can be your biggest asset, maintaining relationships, even when in different geographies, can be a game changer.
  • Create world leading work for your clients, but also ensure there is space for the team to engage in meaningful, independent projects that don’t rely on clients to keep stirring passion and productivity.

It’s been a hugely insightful couple of days and the hospitality of our hosts has been very generous. A big thanks to Sven & Simon.