#CSinterviews Samuel De Volder, Executive Creative Director, These Days Y&R, Antwerp

Sam De Volder (@sdevolder) is ECD at These Days Y&R. He has been a Social for many years and has joined us at 10 0f our CS Global events. We recently attended CS Fresh where we brought 50 new creative leaders from around the world into the CS fold. 

As one of only two Socials who had attended a CS Global event before what was your first thought when you found out we were going to do an event with mainly newbies? How did it turn out?

Well I remember my first event and it felt wonderful to meet a likeminded crowd. It was almost 10 years ago and we were all evangelising and preaching about digital and interactive. We had a lot in common and some of us even became friends. Now, with an all new and fresh group I must admit I was wondering if we could repeat the magic. But we did: it felt just like another CS and it was great to share experiences and stories with all these people.

What most inspired you and what did you take back to These Days Y&R?

Mr. Bingo and Sam Bompas of Bompas & Parr. Both because of their refreshing look at just trying stuff, see if it works out and if it does, hit the gas and make it big. Maybe sometimes we tend to overdo in our quest for ‘the big idea’.

Mr. Bingo told us he was drunk one night and tweeted ‘I will send an offensive postcard to the first person to reply to this tweet’. The response was really good, so he decided to open it as a service on his website. The response was overwhelming and he has been sending hilarious postcards ever since, he even turned it into a book. Sam Bompas in turn, created a food experience company more or less out of experimenting with jelly. Crazy stuff.

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You became one of our first Super Member agencies at the beginning of this year. Thanks. What do you expect to get from working closely with CS in this way?

Inspiration, passion, learn and share new things by opening up to other creative industries. Find ways to get clients in the room. The times have never been more exciting to be in this business. We feel we should support that and Creative Social is a great way to connect to refreshing thinkers and talent.

Would you consider yourself a Hacker, Maker, Teacher or Thief? Or a combination of all 4?

I think as soon as you put something in a box it becomes mute. So please let us all be a bit of everything.

You live in Antwerp. What are the must dos for anyone visiting?

Well, I actually live in Kortrijk J. There I would certainly recommend to visit the Biennale Interieur, an international renowned architecture and interior design fair (next edition in the fall of 2016). As for Antwerp the Red Star Line Museum is a must. It shows how over 3.000.000 Belgian immigrants shipped to the US and Canada between 1873 & 1933. The roof of the MAS museum offers a great view of the city.

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Furthermore: go and see Rubens, eat fries and send me a mail if you are in town, we will do anything we can to guide you to best bars and beers. And bring your credit card, because Antwerp is a fashion capital.

What trend do you think has the potential to most disrupt brands?

Brands have always been about magic and dreaming. Often overselling and over promising. Thus the biggest threat is reality. The reality of reviews. The reality of small start-ups taking down giants. The reality of people who cut through the crap. Nothing is carved in stone anymore. It forces brands to get their act together, which is a good thing, as it’s never too late. There will always be room for brands with a good story and a great product: there’s magic in that too.

What’s your definition of culture?

A dopamine recharge.

Do you think that brands/advertising are killing culture?

Not necessarily. But I do think there’s a great future for brands who are not just sponsoring culture, but who are willing to take a risk by not being too commercial up front and creating entertaining content of their own. It’s not easy though to find the right balance between brand and content.

To launch the new Mazda CX-3 we just finished “Let’s Upgrade the City”, a project to help Belgian street artists. Street art is all about bringing beauty to the city, but the difficulty is always to get permissions so they can work carefree. So we used Mazda’s media power to launch a campaign to ask people to donate their crappy walls and offer loads of canvases to the street art community. It’s meaningful and pretty gutsy to launch a car by hardly talking about the car so kudos to Mazda Belgium.

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What is the best example of a brand adding to culture?

Red Bull. It’s not culture as we know it, but it’s definitely a brand that walks the talk when it comes to creating experiences which are so stunning that you forget you are actually watching advertising. I also like fellow social Pereira O’Dell’s work for Intel. The Beauty Inside, but certainly also the latest campaign: What Lives Inside.

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If there was one thing in advertising you could fix, what would it be?

I would love marketeers to look at their own products the way they look at other products being consumers themselves. And then go further in their efforts to grab attention in a meaningful way.

What piece of work from the last 12 months did you think F**k Me That’s Good?

Volvo’s Life Paint. Newcastle Brown Ale’s Superbowl approach.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given (and from whom)?

Always listen to you inner kid. By my grandfather, this cool guy.

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What’s the one piece of advice you would give to young creatives coming into the industry right now?

Pick your battles.

If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?

Have more fun and don’t take things too seriously.

What’s the one question you would like to ask a fellow Social?

@Benjamin Palmer > What’s your plan B?






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