In Focus: Interview with Ulf Westmark-Højelsen, Creative Director at Connected

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Ulf Westmark-Højelsen

Ulf Westmark-Højelsen has 20 years experience mainly from the classic network agencies (Saatchi, BBDO and Leo Burnett). He is now the partner and creative director at local, independent agency Connected having both left behind the security of network accounts and the bureaucracy associated therewith for the more insecure day-to-day-survival that is the cost of freedom…

Interview with the 2018 Muse Creative Awards Winner - Ulf Westmark-Højelsen

1Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
We are a young agency - 4 years - based on an old one founded in 1993 that needed rejuvenation to ensure relevance in a new-media focused world. We specialize in integrated communication with the creative starting point at the stores. We then work our way back across all relevant touchpoints - SOME, Digital, TV, Radio, Print etc. to complete the funnel - only backwards. It's not rocket science, but has proven efficient as we both generate sales and brand at the same time.
2Congratulations! As the winner of the 2018 Muse Creative Awards, what does winning this award mean to you and your team?
It means a lot - both because it proves that both our creativity and our approach actually create measurable results, and also because it also awards our clients, forming a stronger bond in a time where you no longer win clients/accounts but mere assignments.
3Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
It's gonna be explosive - we've only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of individualized content (especially video) rooted in the native advertising philosophy. Automation will play a big part too, but more as a means of distribution rather than creation - VR is interesting too, but IMO it will remain a niche thing for the time being. But most importantly - the "grand piano" of advertising has been given a lot of extra keys for us to play, which is both a challenge, but most of all presents us with a new range of opportunities.
4What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
The variation - recording a silly song about cheese in a studio one moment and then on to a board room presenting a global strategic creative platform for a major industrial client the next… The people - even though the industry has changed, it still attracts great people. That it allows me to be myself.
5Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I've had the fortune of having great mentors within the industry - both in terms of creativity and the mindset behind it, but also the craftsmanship of writing. But actually I've learned a lot from people that I've come across that challenged my values and had a whole different approach to being in the industry…
6What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
First of all, we're small - only 5.5 million which makes the industry equally small here. Our size has meant that we have developed a cultural and often very pragmatic creativity - simply in order to maintain our relevance in a globalized world. Nationally, it also means that we have to make the best out of our modest budgets - which can seem like a limitation, but also forms the basis of alternative thinking and a certain "underdog cheekiness".
7If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in creative industry, what would it be?
That question creates a very ambivalent feeling - on one hand I would say "go for it" as I really love advertising, on the other I would do my best to inform the person about the inherent consequences that choosing advertising as your career patch will have and that your mood will be swinging like Benny Goodman from now on…
8What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the advertising industry?
Everything is available online - LinkedIn has gone from a CV database to knowledge sharing and a great place for discussions. On the personal level: Stay curious and restless, be inspired by everything, have the radar turned on constantly - it has become a bit of a cliché, but the best ideas are still often found when you're not looking
9Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
Why would I suddenly do that to a complete stranger in an interview form? :-D
10Finally, what is your key to success?
Surrounding myself with great, inspiring people - especially the ones that are better than myself. Furthermore - the ability to sometimes create things that might not suit your own, individual taste, but is relevant to the target audience and their values, taste and beliefs.

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