ad publica as ECCO member

Why does internationality pay off?


Almost two years ECCO: Managing Director Martina Biesterfeldt is responsible for ad publica’s network strategy and answers the most important questions about the collaboration.



Why would you need an agency network today? Doesn’t it make you cumbersome and inflexible?

Martina: No, the concern is unfounded – at least at ECCO. We are a collaboration of owner-managed agencies all over the world. That means there is no obligation to employ each other, no hierarchies, no cost centre management. Instead, we have numerous opportunities to access the network and find exactly the expertise we need.


But couldn’t you then also simply look for an agency on an ad hoc basis?

Martina: This is exactly where the difference lies. At ECCO, we go through a meticulous process before joining the network. As a member you have to be very open and answer questions, present cases and explain successes, you have to be very open about your company and mindset. This ensures an extremely high common standard of quality – in terms of content and working methods. So instead of finding a (possibly) suitable agency abroad on your own initiative, with ECCO potentially every enquiry is a hit, because all agencies share skills at the highest level. You have a whole team of experts at your side.


So ECCO makes your work easier when it comes to international cooperation?

Martina: That is only a small aspect. The network also strengthens its members enormously in other respects, namely through extremely open and creative exchange.


Couldn’t this also be achieved through traditional networks? Information exchange through networking has always been common practice.

Martina: That is true. But let me compare it to a meeting of unrelated German agencies. No one will be too revealing here, because in the end you are competitors. What tools do we use, how do we measure KPIs, where is the journey in influencer marketing heading – such topics are discussed, yes. But no one will supply his own competitors with ammunition, there is always a barrier. That is different with ECCO. The exchange is very open and trusting, for the mutual benefit of all. We recommend our customers to others, we do not compete for budgets. This creates a completely different intellectual environment and enables knowledge transfer at a new level.


So the network is also a kind of knowledge hub?

Martina: Yes, knowledge and empowerment. We are not just a collection of service providers, but a creative association of fellow campaigners who coach each other in cultural translation. After all, when communicating with international clients, it’s all about seeing how a global campaign idea can work in the individual markets and what the specifics of the countries are.


Can you give us an example?

Martina: For example, we pitched the Australian brand Modibodi via ECCO. Modibodi is a very dedicated brand that produces leak-proof underwear for menstruation and incontinence with a strong focus on sustainability – and on taking the issues out of the taboo zone. They are very sincere and paassionate about their aims. This is where decades-old clichés have to be broken for the German market: the period is not a blue substitute fluid women lose unnoticed while they dance dressed in white across a flower meadow. Periods can cause pain, there is blood and that should no longer be a taboo. And here you have to enter these previously grey areas of communication, sensitively but clearly over the right multipliers.


And that works differently in the DACH region than in other countries?

Martina: Indeed. How deeply rooted is the taboo, what are the expectations of women here, what tendencies in sustainable periods are there already and where do we have to start from scratch? The same applies to incontinence, where every market and every culture is different. And the markets also differ in the way they work. German-speaking influencers are expensive and highly professionalised, which is by no means the case everywhere.


But isn’t it possible to analyse such a market and multiplier situation independently of the manufacturer’s country?

Martina: Of course you could do that. But if a global campaign is planned, there is a world outside of the product that needs to be analyzed and translated. With international brands we do not operate on a blank canvas, but have a base that needs to be brought here. Cultural translation is a prerequisite for success.


Which countries do you work with and how does that influence your agency?

Martina: We currently have accounts from France, Spain, Italy and Australia, the USA and Austria. Also, we have wine and spirits from more countries, but we do the largest part of our work for them via our German contact, the distributor. All this of course shapes our agency, and also our recruiting. For us, foreign language proficiency has to be more than just a skill on the CV, which is why we sometimes conduct job interviews partly in English. In addition, most employees speak a second foreign language very well. This reflects a basic attitude and a kind of background noise in all our work: we see ourselves as translators. Between product and target group, between business and consumer, marketing and press – and between different countries. ECCO is the perfect hub for transfer.


Does it also work the other way round? Can German brands internationalise via ECCO?

Martina: Of course. The network with its benefits, agencies and people works like translation software in both directions.

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