The Australian in Hamburg: What My First Day Taught Me

A missive from Chris D’Arbon, our CD who is on exchange right now at Grabarz & Partner in Germany. We’re thrilled to have the wonderful Yannick Labbé, CD International from Grabarz here at DDI at the same time!

When my bus pulled up the nano-second it was scheduled, I knew German efficiency had found me on my first day on the job at Garbarz & Partner.

Arriving at the agency, German cordiality also introduced itself with a friendly ‘Morgen!’ from behind the reception desk. I would soon after secure the first two German greetings in my arsenal of, well, two. ‘Morgen’ before 12 and ‘Moin’ anytime thereafter.

I was quickly ushered into staff breakfast, which is a daily occurrence at Grabarz, but on Mondays the agency gathers to share what everyone’s been up to. It was here that I shared 50% of my German repertoire when I uttered ‘Morgen’. The rest of my introductory speech revolved around ‘thanks for having me’ and ‘sorry for being so Deutsche-deficient’.

Then up to Level 6 to meet the team I’d be working with. Their welcoming smiles and outstretched hands could better be described as the UN of creative teams – with Germany, France, USA, Italy and Switzerland all represented. I was no sooner doing multi-lingual backflips of excitement when dream briefs from Volkswagen and Porsche landed on my desk.

Later in the week, I would hear that Grabarz picked up a couple of Cannes Lions (no biggie, they were added to a growing tally) and it would become immediately apparent that these guys shoot for the stars. Mediocre, ‘done’ or small ideas were kicked straight to the curb (politely and diplomatically laid to rest on the curb).

Of course, their work precedes them, but what struck me most on my first day at Grabarz & Partner was the people. The interested people. Interested in me, in ideas, insights, design, language, technology or the latest viral craze. It’s infectious.

Us advertising tragics, if nothing else, we’re interested. In each other and the world around us. To hopefully connect with something deeper. I never want to lose that.