Moritz Preißer of Granny tells us about a creative agency that believes brands should not simply have customers, they should have fans.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Moritz Preißer: Thanks for asking. Overall we are doing good. Everybody is healthy and this is the most important part. I do have a little son and must admit it’s sometimes stressful to organize the day-to-day with Kitas being closed and very limited possibilities to meet with other kids.
My girlfriend also has a very challenging job as a journalist and editor-in-chief of a podcast format. Therefore we needed to get very flexible and focus on what’s really important to give each other the time and space we need. But that just made me realize again how lucky we’ve been especially in that time – as we actually can be that flexible and are healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Granny.
Moritz Preißer: I am one of the co-founders of Granny, a Berlin-based socialtainment agency. Our primary goal is to turn brands into pop culture – with the unique approach of combining social media, creativity, and entertainment. We develop both the strategic conception and the implementation of social-first 360° campaigns for our clients.
At Granny, we are convinced that brands must not just chase culture, but actively shape it in order to be truly relevant in the respective communities. We want to turn brands into cultural symbols and let them grow into pop culture icons. With this innovative communication approach, we succeed to inspire people with our campaigns across all channels. An example could be the Dark Ticket campaign we developed for the launch of the second season of the Netflix series Dark.
Before Granny was established we had observed that in the digital age, brands engage with their customers very differently than before, namely social first. In that sense, we felt that traditional agencies could not fill this need, which led me and my other two co-founders Sari Munz and Philip Hohn to found Granny.
Prior to Granny, I was Managing Director at PUNKTE+STREIFEN and WE’RE ALL IN, so my history in content and film production goes way back in the years, and helps me to deliver sharp strategies as well for social as for creative campaigns. During that time I worked with brands like Zalando, Asos, and Netflix. Building on my previous experience, I am now responsible for Granny’s key accounts, such as Netflix DACH, ZDFneo, Radio Fritz, and radioeins.
How does Granny innovate?
Moritz Preißer: The fundamental idea behind our vision is to create more than just visibility around the brands, but to create entire lifeworlds as the interface between product and consumer. This means we grow with the interests of our consumers as well as with the digital possibilities to build new platforms, campaigns, and communities on different channels.
What makes Granny special is our diverse team: our culture allows talents with very different backgrounds and interests to work together effectively and take responsibility. It gives everyone the freedom to express themselves creatively and motivates everyone to contribute to the outcome. With success so far! The key component for innovation is definitely our great team.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Moritz Preißer: Fortunately, we are quite lucky. Even though the pandemic did affect our business in the first lockdown in March 2020, when everybody stopped spending money on communication measures, we are happy to almost be back on track.
Many brands realized that the only way to reach potential customers nowadays is to build up an online audience. And this is where our expertise kicks in and our business model pays off: Granny creates much more than traditional advertising. With our campaigns, we can offer real added value. We even remark that people turn to their favorite brands for information and comfort. As such the brand in itself gains a higher standing in people’s lives, which in turn fuels the need for good digital communication.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Moritz Preißer: Luckily we didn’t have to let anyone go due to Corona. Actually, we have still been growing. Therefore our biggest challenge was onboarding new Grannies without any face-to-face meetings. That’s especially difficult as our culture is based on a ‘lead by knowledge’ principle: instead of a hierarchical decision-making process those team members with the most profound expertise are making crucial decisions, let’s say based on their context, e.g. understanding a certain community. In this regard, we ask everyone to be smart about when to decide for themselves and when to ask people with better expertise for advice. We have to trust everyone to have the responsibility and power in order to grant them the freedom to make their own decisions, place their creative bets, and set priorities – which of course needs a lot of context and knowledge about the strength and expertise of your colleagues.
But I feel the challenge made our onboarding program even better.
Moreover, the situation has not been easy for a lot of existing employees. In Berlin people often share apartments. Staying at home for weeks and working and living in the same rooms, thus, is stressful. So we established opportunities for people to be able to come to the office by booking individual office slots. We feel that this helps a lot. Also, the exchange with colleagues is crucial. That’s why we’re now having daily virtual stand-ups within the teams and dedicated time and formats to chat about non-work-related topics.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Moritz Preißer: Interestingly our client relationship didn’t change that much. We’re working a lot for clients that are not Berlin-based, nationally and globally. Therefore communication didn’t really change: We are used to having a lot of video-calls.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Moritz Preißer: We didn’t need to get any government grants. Only in the first weeks of the lock-down a few team members reduced working hours to 80% for a few weeks and got a short-time work allowance. In my opinion, this is the most important measure here in Germany. It really helps companies that have a harder time than we do to keep their employees so they can immediately get going again when the situation gets better.
Your final thoughts?
Moritz Preißer: I am really glad to have such an amazing team. All of them are working so hard through difficult times making it possible for us to grow. There are quite a number of us who have families with little kids, which makes it more difficult, especially in busy agency times. But we are talking and exchanging a lot, showing understanding towards each other, and finding agreements – in this sense, we are mastering the crisis as a team. I feel that this is something special, so I am grateful for so many lovely team members in our company.