City focus: Freelancing in Hamburg

Are you thinking of moving to Hamburg? Are you wondering whether you could get work full-time in an advertising agency there? Or freelance as a copywriter? Hannes, Copywriter Collective’s resident copywriter, knows a thing or to about them, because he’s worked at most of them. Here he gives us some insights.

Hamburg is the centre of advertising in Germany. At least it was. Still, some of the best agencies are based here. And more to come. The city of Hamburg was the cradle for many great agencies like Jung von Matt, Philipp & Keuntje, Grabarz & Partner, thjnk and so on.

Hamburg offers what you need: great work, great life. Sometimes it’s hard to bring in balance. But once you’ve managed, you will love this place. I fell in love with Hamburg 10 years ago and I am still here – with a short break in Amsterdam.

What sets your city apart from others?

I appreciate the great mix in Hamburg. Mostly laid-back, but always willing to fight for the citizens rights. Here real punk and capitalism can coexist, like Hip Hop and Punkrock, culture and subculture. People in advertising find a lot of inspirational things going on. While advertisers are less inspiring for the city, raise the rents and copy the individuals style. Which is I assume not a problem in Hamburg. But also advertising can live and create in this peaceful and easy going city.

Who to send your CV to for freelancing in Hamburg?

As I said before, the biggest agencies are Jung von Matt, Scholz and Friends, Philipp & Keuntje, Grabarz & Partner, Serviceplan, thjnk, FCB, deepblue and many more (sorry, for the ones I spared)

Of course you want work for the big players, the well-known award winning agencies. But there are many small offices, hot shops and inspired people, doing a great job – also for big clients.

More or less, the top agencies are kind of close relatives – loving and hating each other at the same time. The competition surrounding them is the perfect requirement for state of the art advertising.

But it’s not only the never-ending rat race. It’s also the strong will and the passion for communication which is appreciable in Hamburg. Here, not only agencies are born, also great ideas and fast forward thinking. So, Hamburg is the birthplace – and the city cares about its ‘children’.

Is Hamburg hard to live in?

There is no special frustration regarding Hamburg. It’s like anywhere else: it became a tough job. Less money, ridiculous timings and the ongoing fight against lowering the quality. This you will find in Hamburg and the rest of the world. So, skip frustration and moaning and let’s get arranged with the circumstances. At least something didn’t have changed the last decades: the majority of what we develop is for nothing, only a trickle will be produced, and from that a small part will be outstanding. But then, Hamburg is the right place to make it happen.

How international is it? What are the growth areas? How has it changed?

Hamburg always was and is an international place. So is the communication business as well. Due to a fact that Hamburg is one of the most beautiful cities you can imagine, many people from abroad w’d love to work and life here. So it became more and more an expat city, like Amsterdam. And with the expats the international spirit grows even faster than ever before. Living and working keeps exciting. Especially in digital industries and online business.

My own freelance history

Originally I am from beautiful Austria and thought I will never ever stay in Germany. It feels good to be wrong.

I started in Vienna at Demner, Merlicek and Bergmann. From there I moved to Jung von Matt in Munich, then Hamburg. Within Hamburg I changed to Springer & Jacoby, followed by strawberryfrog Amsterdam.

After this I started freelancing in Hamburg, first a senior copywriter, now as Hybrid creative director and concept developer, for agencies in Germany, Austria, UK, USA and Japan, eg.: strawberryfrog, Jung von Matt, Perfect Fools, Creature, Philipp & Keuntje, Scholz and Friends, Crispin Porter Bogusky, DDB, Razorfish, Plantage, Creature etc.   For brands like BMW, Mercedes, Coke light, Sixt, MINI, Burger King, Red Bull, Swatch, Panasonic, Google, Telekom and many more. Click here to see Hannes profile