For one of my last Berlinbooks I was able to talk to a “rising star agency” in Berlin, called International. By then they’ve just won a huge Coca Cola commercial budget. That war very unusual for a small almost unknown agency. Since then I meet once in a while one of the founders of International: Axel Pfennigschmidt. While International has been sold to a huge network, Axel established with some other a “small creative cell”, PULK, networking people working on big budgets. I like the idea of these “fast moving creative cells” and I am sure they will have a great future.
Here is the interview I recently made with Axel:

What does PULK stand for?

PULK is home to a group of creative talents for advertising, film, architecture, design, illustration and music. The idea behind this creative network is to let people with different professional and cultural backgrounds inspire each other. PULK works on projects for companies and their brands or as a complementary creative partner for advertising agencies and film production companies. If you want you can enjoy our talents separately. Or you can marvel at how well our creative flavours mix.

Is this network philosophy really working?

Yes, indeed. Very well. By involving different people that have a broad understanding and empathy for many areas, along with a deep expertise in one or two creative areas, new perspectives and extraordinary creative concepts can be achieved for the benefits of our clients.

What are the pros and cons?

The pros are obvious. After receiving a client’s briefing we immediately involve the people who we think can make a valuable contribution to the creative development and the production process. I give you a good example: One of our clients ist MTV Networks. They invited us to develop an integrated campaign (TV and print ads, online, point of sale, merchandising etc) for promoting VIVA’s mobile phone offer. Besides an art director and a copy writer – a director, a product designer, a composer and a 3D artist attended our in-house kick-off meeting.The result is a complex impactful multi-channel campaign centered around an animated character.

Another pro of the network idea is the following: Since there are no divisions at PULK between the thinking and the making we can ensure to deliver the high standards of the quality of our work that we always aim for.

Talking about the cons: We often involve out-house people who work from different places in Germany, Europe and Overseas which of course requires a lot of well organised coordination work between the various people. Despite of all the wonderful high-tech communication tools nowadays sometimes it would be easier to see the person next door, talk face-to-face and find a mutual solution.

What do companies think about the network idea? Are they ready yet?

Forward-thinking companies are just waking up to the benefits of this kind of unconventional approach. The big marketing companies often work closely with their grown-up network agencies. But they also recognize that the communication world becomes more playful and diverse. Reaching specific target groups nowadays requires cutting-edge communication work. And that’s exactly when these companies approach us. In addition to their traditional network agencies (the ‚cruise line ships’) they see PULK as the fast and efficient ‚ship’s boat’ offering well thought-out and executed creative concepts.

Would you say we live to see the last days of the “full service agencies”?

No, I don’t think so. Especially the big multi-national companies need the big traditional network agencies which offer full service and ensure the handling of their global campaigns country by country.


axel After graduating from the University of Arts in Berlin, Axel Pfennigschmidt worked for many years internationally as a client service director with advertising agencies like McCann-Erickson and Leo Brunett in Frankfurt, Select in New York, Leagas Delaney in London. He was a managing partner of the ad agencies Wire Hamburg and International Berlin. In 2006 he co-founded PULK, a Berlin based creative network.

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