The man in charge
Meet Niels Langereis, CEO of New Story
New Story has been growing for over 26 years. From a small design agency in the attic of a rectory, we currently enjoy a sea view, with a team of 70+ Creative Marketing Engineers. We have the ambition to grow further. To help write the next chapter of our own evolution, we have appointed a new CEO: Niels Langereis. He has a strong track record when it comes to creative and digital disciplines. Get to know him through the Q&A below.
You were in a great place at WPP. Why did you make this move?
I worked at WPP for a long time, a great place for me to professionally mature in several managerial positions. There is a reason that WPP today still is the largest advertising agency network with 190,000 people working worldwide; it's a versatile learning environment. But for an entrepreneurial executive leader, an organisation that big can also be sluggish. Looking at today's speed of development in the industry, flexibility and independence are extremely important to me. The widespread international structure of WPP made it difficult to change course when deemed necessary. Just imagine: I was the CEO, yet I had a boss, who also had a boss, who had another boss to report to. This hierarchy hindered me too much from running a successful operation. In contrast, New Story is a breath of fresh air. The shareholders invest their trust and enable me to implement my vision. What really helps is that they actively participate in daily operations from their personal expertise. Together we are able to keep our eye on the ball throughout the organization.
How do you want to position New Story in the market?
What's in a name? 'New Story' wasn't chosen by accident. Every organization has to change continuously in order to remain relevant and grow. Looking at the total ecosystem that a company has to maintain to serve the unpredictable customer, it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done - especially when it comes to digital. New Story predominantly focuses on the digital aspects of the customer journey. We believe the sum of all customer experiences builds your brand. Our clients Sunny Cars, Van der Valk and Vogelbescherming are proof of that statement. Once you engage in their service, you can expect a seamless journey in a way that is relevant to the brand. From this marketing perspective, we are always looking for new opportunities that help the service and brand advance digitally.
Digital evolution is a continuous process that affects more than just technology. With that in mind, we position ourselves as "Creative Marketing Engineers". We are constantly exploring new technological developments that could contribute to the growth of our customers. New Story is able to connect all digital channels and data sources in an agile online ecosystem, which we continuously optimize in line with market developments. We aim to maximize efficiency by using scalable data-driven solutions. This saves time, budget and allows you to speed up.
In simple terms: New Story creates progress, we help you grow. The margins for growth can be found in new technology, but also in the areas of strategy, creativity and marketing. I think that New Story is extremely capable of interweaving the different areas of expertise. We combine strategic advice with high-tech solutions and activate brands with performance marketing.
Does our complex world require specialists or generalists?
This depends on your ambition. If you want to play 'premier league', you want to get the most out of all ingredients that are important to your brand. In that case, you are best served with a specialist, rather than a generalist. But this is about more than expertise. You build up an intense relationship with an agency, which requires a strong human connection. Looking at current market developments, it seems not everyone agrees with me.
There is a storm of business takeovers taking place. Huge agencies are emerging that exhibit megalomania. They claim that brands need a single full-service provider. But is this really in the client’s best interest? Or are these claims in light of serving the interest of the investors behind those initiatives? In fact, an entrepreneur only has to look in the mirror and ask himself: what is conditional for the success of any organization? To me, the most important factor is an entrepreneurial drive. I wonder aloud how this will play out with the full-service providers. All original founders of the acquired agencies have been bought out. Sure, there is a lock-in of a few years, but I expect an exodus that will reduce the entrepreneurial spirit and drive to succeed. How does a tanker secure agility in our accelerating transformative world? I see issues there. And I've seen this same issue growing at WPP, from first hand. I know it is extremely difficult for a large network agency to keep pace with the speed of change. I'm sure this will be no different for a digital network agency.
What does this mean for New Story?
We see the extremely difficult challenge for our customers who require vast amounts of specialisms in order to grow today. New Story, therefore, has a base of T-shaped talents: experts who can link different disciplines and who know how to connect these areas. In collaboration with dedicated specialists, we play the game of inches and find room to advance. We believe your brand's journey of growth is an agile path that requires support from a variety of specialists. That is also one of the main reasons why I want to position New Story as the strong partner agency it has always been at heart. I see customers as partners whom we interact with every day in collaboration with other partners, often already working with the brand. We may have a lot of expertise in-house but certainly not everything a brand may need at some point. We never have and we never will. Collaboration has been rooted in our DNA for 26 years. Over the years we have designed the processes that connect all partners. Our self-developed mapping methodology plays a central role. The remix of proven SCRUM and Service Design techniques enables us to share and update knowledge with all stakeholders involved - with remarkable ease, I'd like to emphasize. As a result, our clients experience the full-service approach with partners of their choosing.
War-on-talent, how do you deal with it?
At an agency like ours, the people and their expertise are the most important assets. Their growth precedes the growth of our customers. That is why I have a strong focus on the continuous development of our Newstorians. I enjoy working with an emerging generation that works with a different mindset. From an early age, they have grown up experimenting online and creating creative content. They continuously engage with new social channels and new features. Their innate adaptability, their hunger to learn new things - are the qualities that make any agency better. A great place to work requires more than nifty espresso machines and growth opportunities. New talent wants to contribute to making the world a better place.
New Story's location helps source up-and-coming talent. Geographically, our office is strategically situated. Our region is referred to as the Central Parc of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. This allows us to screen widely for talent, also at the many universities and colleges nearby. This is reflected in our workforce. More than 90% of Newstorians derive from the region. Our seaside office provides them with that great place to work. Together we are committed to helping our clients - as well as New Story - evolve to the next chapter.
Please reach out to: