Ask Christian Jacobsen what he’s learned from his 20 years in advertising, and he’ll tell you that a brand’s most powerful tool is a defined vision. He’ll also quickly tell you that core problem most brands face is that they lack a defined vision.
Since 2010, he has been a founding Partner at Mistress, a multi-disciplinary creative agency that invigorates relationships between marketers, consumers, and brands. With offices in Los Angeles and Germany, Mistress currently has a staff of +50, and is considered one of the hottest creative companies in Los Angeles.
The origins of Mistress, as well as its vision, are undeniably intriguing. Mistress was started in the midst of the 2009’s severe economic downturn—just as the fast-changing digital era was dramatically affecting client-agency relationships. Christian, a brand strategist by nature, thought that a brand-oriented creative shop could work with great brands on interesting projects—in the same way that small digital shops were gaining terrific assignments. However, Christian wanted to craft and direct the brand strategy—not follow the established brand positioning.
He and his partners also wanted to be sure that Mistress was also perceived as a brand. Or as he likes to say, “One would expect any Mistress to be a bit hotter, a bit more risqué, and generally more spontaneous than the wife.” As a result, Mistress’ role was to invigorate clients, clients’ brands and, ultimately, the relationship of those brands with the consumer. In fact, Mistress was begun as an entirely project-directed shop. Today, its concept has evolved to make room for some AOR clients. However, Mistress stays true to her mission, and is extremely selective about the brands and assignments it chooses.
This means he’s drawn to challenger brands and mold-breakers as the agency is intentionally contrarian. He’s also an advocate for a company culture that promotes collaboration, empowerment, and risk- taking. Inspired by great ideas, he aims to attract co-workers, collaborators and clients who are also idea-focused.
Before launching Mistress, Christian Jacobsen spent time in account and strategic roles at Lowe/SMS on Mercedes-Benz, Ogilvy NY on American Express and Miller and Kastner & Partners on Red Bull. Or, as he describes, “The first half of my career had me locked in traditional advertising; I’ve been throwing hand grenades at it ever since. Apparently, Picasso called this a creative urge.”
The Red Bull assignment seemed to crystalize an alternative path that enabled clever, yet disruptive tactics to break through consumer ambivalence and amplify marketing impact. He admits, “I’ve continued to challenge convention with many brands such as Hot Wheels, Jägermeister, NOS Energy and PayPal. Beyond marketing, my exposure to varied corporate cultures has enriched my understanding of organizational dynamics, leadership, and management.”