At just 28-years-old, account director Amelie Harich, who was recently promoted after spending the last year managing the Mercedes-Benz account for top European ad agency Antoni, has quickly become a leading force in the advertising industry on an international level.
Harich, who began her career at Serviceplan at the age of 23, says humbly, “I’ve been very lucky in my career and appreciate all the great chances I got. Fortunately, I made the most of them, and it seems that this has paid off.”
Though Harich’s young age compared to most others holding similar positions in the field has undoubtedly made her stand out, it’s the caliber of her work and the powerful clients that she handles that have made her such a recognizable force in the industry. For proof of this, we needn’t look any further than the overwhelming success of the campaigns she was involved in this year for leading luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, such as “Grow Up” and “Easy Driver.”
Referred to by Ad Age as Mercedes-Benz Biggest Content Campaign To Date, Harich and the team at Antoni created “Grow Up,” a powerful and innovative campaign that moved away from traditional car advertising campaigns of yore and placed the focus instead on the lifestyle essence of the brand by connecting the company’s luxury cars with the stories of real people.
The campaign earned the prestigious Bronze Entertainment Lion in the Online Fiction Series category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which is considered the most respected and coveted awards events in the entire advertising and creative communications industry.
“Grow Up is about people and their stories, which is unusual for a car manufacturer. The campaign plays with contradictions, the voice-over says, ‘Grow-Up. Dress proper,’ and you see a tattooed man,” explains Harich.
“What we wanted to say is– if you’re driving a Mercedes-Benz compact class, you are basically living your parents life. That’s now possible with the freedom of youth. You don’t have to be stuck in the classic ‘father-mother-child’ image, you can adapt and establish your own tradition and rules.”
With the goal of targeting a younger audience, Harich and the team at Antoni brought in celebrity icons such as A$AP Rocky, which epitomize the non-traditional attitude of what it means to be a ‘grown up’ in modern times.
Another major highlight of the work Harich did with Antoni Mercedes-Benz was the unforgettable Mercedes-AMG “Easy Driver” Super Bowl commercial, which aired in February and was directed by none other than the Coen Brothers. Not only had the Coen Brothers not directed a Super Bowl commercial in 15 years, but the commercial was also the first one to be produced by a German advertising agency, a big win for Harich and the Antoni team.
“It was a very big honor for Antoni to be the very first German advertising agency to produce a Super Bowl commercial ” explains Harich.
“Usually, the American agency working for Mercedes-Benz, Merkley + Partners NYC, produces the Super Bowl commercial. This time, the client liked our concept better than the American one…. it played with the forerunner of Americanness, Easy Rider and Peter Fonda. Easy Rider was all about open air, the love of the drive and freedom as a the result of the machine you are on, and that set up a really nice parallel to the car, the AMG GT convertible. When the Coen brothers were in, it all came together and the Easy Rider became the Easy Driver.”
All of this came prior to Harich’s substantial account director promotion, and the success of the campaigns likely played a role in her moving up the ranks from the account manager at Antoni Mercedes-Benz to account director.
Harich’s unique set of skills and ceaseless ambition coupled with her ability to keep a cool head and organize all of those involved in the projects she handles are some of the factors that have led her to be so successful in her industry at such a young age.
“Account management is the interface between client and creatives. It requires a lot of diplomacy and sensitivity to understand the different perspectives,” explains Harich. “I am good at taking all different perspectives serious and not losing common sense and a sense of humor over it. This is what they appreciate about me. Also, I am very organized and try to see the bigger picture when the creatives lose themselves in details, which happens constantly,” she says with laughter.
An interesting backstory behind the 2017 Mercedes-Benz campaign is how the ad agency Antoni first came to fruition; and as an integral figure in the agency’s formation back in 2015, it is one that adds a big boost to Harich’s credit. After proving herself as a competent junior account manager at Serviceplan in her early 20s where she formed a strong working relationship with creative director Marcell Francke, Francke introduced Harich to legendary creative director André Kemper, who was a managing partner at BBDO Group Germany and has opened several successful agencies, in addition to being in the German Hall of Fame of Advertising.
Both Harich and Francke were asked to relocate to Hamburg soon after to work with Kemper’s new agency ANDRÉ on behalf of the client Opel.
Through a unique transpiring of events, André Kemper and Dr. Tonio Kröger were approached to take over the marketing for the Mercedes-Benz account for the entire European market and essentially build a whole new agency, one that focused on one-client, Mercedes-Benz.
Harich says, “This was a big coup in the industry, as the account was signed without bidding. Both André and Tonio have worked for Mercedes-Benz before and this is how the client approached them… That has never happened in the industry before. After only six months at ANDRÉ, we won the Mercedes-Benz account without even having an agency.”
After landing the coveted Mercedes-Benz account, Harich moved to Berlin in 2015 where she helped open Antoni.
“I had a special role when opening Antoni, as I worked for André before and was involved into the founding of Antoni from the very first minute…. Very exciting times,” she recalls. “We were less than 10 people when starting in May 2015 and are 160 people now.”
Harich has since been promoted to account director, and as such, she is now in charge of opening a totally new agency, Antoni Katjes, which is focusing on the rebranding of the popular German candy company Katjes.
“When winning a new client, it is very important to establish a relationship with them. Business is all based on trust and of course, competence. Next to consulting, advising the client on a daily basis, I am in charge of securing an efficient agency structure,” she explains.
“The supervision of costs and timings, which can definitely make you nervous working on several million Euro TV projects, budget planning, the organization of film and photo shoots all over the world, going on these shoots and always being over-informed about your clients products and industry.”
Though it is a massive undertaking, Amelie Harich’s track record and experience in the industry have already proven that she’s the best person for the job; and at only 28-years-old, being chosen to lead as the account director of Antoni Katjes is a massive step forward that places her in rare esteem in the industry.
Renowned creative director Marcell Francke says, “Amelie has the ability to make everyone comfortable while getting the work done. She is extremely ambitious, but the sympathetic thing about her is that she doesn’t show this. Amelie has impressed me over and over again. When everyone is tired to death after a shoot and falls asleep on the plane immediately, she gets her laptop out and works.”