Anna Lichnog: ‘Life tells you the best stories. You just have to listen to them.’
Posted on 2020 Jul,11  | By Gijs de Swarte / Nils Adriaans

Lions, Clio’s, Pencils, Webby’s, you name it... Anna Lichnog, Creative Director at Jung von Matt, has them in all shapes and sizes. And... She is the woman behind the amazing, and major league prize winning campaign ‘The Most German Supermarket’ (for Edeka). In this 6,5 interview series we conduct with the world’s most awarded creative directors, we asked, she answered.

1) What was your biggest fear when you just started out?
Anna Lichnog: ‘Failure. And that’s the biggest mistake you can make if you’re a Creative – worrying about failing. I remember staring at that white piece of paper so well, wondering whether any words would ever appear on it.
Luckily, they did. But, actually – there was another fear that I had when I first started out: I was planning on being a teacher in my early twenties. I was scared shitless of what my parents would say, when I told them, that I wasn’t in fact going to be a teacher, but that I had won a Copywriting Scholarship and was going to work in advertising. They didn’t talk to me for three months.
Now they love what I´m doing. And my Dad even pitches ideas.

2) Please describe your key-career break moment…

‘I’m not sure whether I’ve already had “key-career-breaking” moment, to be honest. I always thought that winning a lot of awards would be that kind of moment, but I think it’s more about everyday life. Leading a big team with more than 20 creatives and managing a lot of large clients is tough, but fun. I really love my team, agency and my clients. And I think if you can say that about your job, that’s the best thing that can happen to you in your career.
Waking up and being happy, looking forward to going to work, is all I could wish for – aside from health and ice cream of course.’

3) What was the lesson learned from your most loved mistake?

‘Just recently, I made a campaign which sparked a huge debate and the press even talked about a “shit storm”. When something like that happens around what you have created, it’s easy to ask yourself – were we right to do what we did?  Or was it a mistake? But you know, I love this particular “mistake” for two reasons. Reason No 1: One of our 7 guiding principles at JvM is “We remain dissatisfied”. That's why we challenge every idea, to see whether it could be better - even if it's already good.
So, that means that we think that every piece of work somehow contains “mistakes”, which we love because they constantly help us to improve. Probably the implementation of this particular idea would have deserved even a bit more improvement. Reason No.2: Great ideas are the ones that people talk about the most. If we were to worry about people’s opinions and what people in the press would think, then some of the greatest ads out there wouldn’t exist. As long as it’s on brand and doing the job that is was meant to, then let the haters be haters. That’s definitely something I have learned. So even if some of the reactions were harsh, I am still thankful for it.’

4) Where do you get your inspiration from?

‘From everywhere. The best lesson that I can give if you are looking for inspiration is: listen to life. Always and everywhere. For example: I once was standing at the meat counter queue in a supermarket. A young mother with her two boys was in front of me. The younger one asked his brother: “What is salami made of?” The big brother answered: “It’s made of pig’s bottoms”
Confused, the smaller boy looked thoughtfully at looked at the salami and asked: “Are pigs checked on the inside?” Or another example: At the checkout, a customer asked the cashier: “Can I pay with my mobile?” The employee answered: “It depends on how much it’s still worth.” Life tells you the best stories. You just have to listen to them.’

5) If you want to get ahead in advertising these days, please, please do not ever…

‘… try to be someone else. When I first started in advertising, people were always telling me “You’re too quiet, you have to be louder and more confident”. But, you know – I think there are enough loud people with big egos in advertising. So I would say: stay true to yourself, focus on creating great ideas and the rest will come on its own.’

6) If I was a millennial and wanted to start in advertising now, I would...

… start as a copywriter at JvM.
PS. I am a millennial ;-)

6.5) Also, I'd like to state that…

‘Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly -John F. Kennedy.’