Claus Wittenborg celebrates 25 years anniversary


Our CEO, Claus Wittenborg, celebrates his 25th anniversary today

We sat down with Claus to talk about his views on the developments of the industry, the challenges marketers face today and how he got into advertising in the first place.


I started in advertising because I was bored

My debut in advertising was a coincidence. I got my first job after I graduated CBS at a bank, and after a few months, I was so bored. One day, I met Thomas Schacht who was Account Director at the agency Midt Marketing in Ikast. I liked him a lot and the stories he could tell about the industry was intriguing and he ended up hiring me.

From the very first day at Midt marketing, I felt at home in advertising. It’s dynamic and I have always loved the symbiosis between creativity and strategy. I believe the reason why I have stayed and been quite successful is my ability to build relationships with our clients. And I have always been motivated by the sales process from cold canvas to long-term relations. I have seen a lot of account people avoiding the selling but I’m brought up with this focus. During my time at CBS, I was a Phoner selling newspapers. I was pretty good at that, and it even financed my first car.


How did you come to Advance?

I’m sitting here at Advance after 25 years, also by coincidence. After some years at Midt Marketing, I moved to Copenhagen as a Client Service Director at a very big agency (Bergsøe 2) – or what I thought was a very big agency in Copenhagen. I was told they were thirty people, but when I came there, there were only fourteen and they were on the road toward bankruptcy and chaos. I’d moved all the way from Aarhus, and I was only 30 years old at the time and now I was in the middle of a battle for survival. My first win in a pitch was a client called SEGA, and due to the win (and need for publicity), we had an article in Markedsføring about our new client. A guy from LEGO called Michael Aagaard saw the article and called me up. He asked a simple question: “Are you happy about your new job here in Copenhagen?” I said, “No, honestly I hate it.” As a client at Advance, Michael got me an interview and I got a job.

So, if the article hadn’t been there in Markedsføring, I would never have seen Advance.


What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?

A lot of things have happened during the 25 years. But the thing I fell in love with – the combination of creativity and strategy – is in my mind more important than ever. The digital transformation has had a major impact on how to solve client problems. We need more and very diverse competencies in our teams compared to just a few years ago. We also involve clients much deeper in our processes and solutions because implementation is a critical factor – especially when you work with international clients like we do.

Unfortunately, I see many companies forget about their brand in the ongoing chase for short-term gains. I believe companies should aim also for short-term gains but only when they truly understand how it connects to the brand and the relationship the brand has to the audiences. Working with strong brands like LEGO, Coloplast and the J&J brands Compeed, Piz Buin and Ipren has taught me and Advance to believe in consistency and coherency. 


What’s your big impression over the last 25 years?

Advance is still standing, stronger maybe than we’ve ever been. That makes me proud. We have done a lot of experiments and invested in several companies (byHabit, Wasabi, Triobike and Responsive) and added a lot of competencies to our company to challenge the status quo. Yet I think some of the fundamental values and beliefs are still intact. I guess that's an important part of our success formula and basically also what we preach to our clients. And I hope this approach can bring us into the next 25 years and allow us to embrace all the changes that are waiting to happen to our industry.


So, how are you celebrating?

I’m so fortunate that Advance has invited my family, good friends, clients and colleagues from the industry to the office for a reception. I’m sure it will be cozy and a lot of stories about how the industry was back then and (after some wine) a few prophesies about the future of our industry.


Claus Wittenborg

Claus Wittenborg

CEO, Partner

40 25 79 20