2 Minutes With … Dirk Poschenrieder, Managing Director of Havas Health & You
Dirk has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications. He started his career in a small, owner-managed healthcare agency and quickly moved to the client side, working for global brands such as Deutsche Post DHL, Sony and Janssen (Johnson + Johnson). He returned to the agency side in 2012. Dirk has also worked for Razorfish/Publicis Health as director of strategy. He's been with Havas Health & You's ops in Germany for seven years.
We spent two minutes with Dirk to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.
Dirk, tell us …
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in a small town called Marl. After living in other cities for a few years, we moved back because my wife and I had to take care of our parents. Marl is near Oer-Erkenschwick, which is well-known as the hometown of Leonardo DiCaprio's mum.
How you first got interested in health.
It started when I worked at Janssen (Johnson + Johnson) about 12 years ago. My passion and interest in health was really ignited. I don't want to overstate the case, but where else can you have a purpose if not in healthcare? I wouldn't want to do anything else. Campaigns for cars or butter wouldn't appeal to me.
One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.
As an agency, I think you should always be in beta mode and believe that the next work will be better than the previous work. You should never be satisfied, because that makes you sluggish.
A recent project you're proud of.
Unfortunately, I can't talk about the customer or the product or show you anything. We are working in Alzheimer's right now and the drug has the potential to be a real game changer. Alzheimer's is a really terrible disease and to be able to work with the client on this makes us very proud. As an agency you rarely get an opportunity like this.
One thing about how health is evolving that you're excited about.
Because of the history of cancer in my family, the topic of cancer is omnipresent. So, I follow the research very closely. And I get excited when I read that the first patient in a new clinical trial has received a potentially cancer-fighting pill. Researchers at City of Hope, one of the largest integrated cancer research and care centers, say the first patient is healthy and well. I know that we are only in Phase 1 and it will be many years—if ever—before the drug is available. But this is really hopeful.
Someone else’s work, in health or beyond, that you admired lately.
And the second one is The New York Times and Droga5's "Truth Is Hard." It's memorable, easy to understand and so emotional.
A book, movie or TV show, or podcast you recently found inspiring.
A Streetcar Named Desire with the great, incomparable Marlon Brando. These days, however, I hardly ever watch films, but rather series. My top five are: Peaky Blinders, Slow Horses, The Old Man, Luther: The Fallen Sun and Lupin. I highly recommend each one if you haven't seen them yet.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
I still listen to a lot of bands from my youth. Some (and this includes my wife) would say that I haven't developed at all, but I can live with that. The bands include Joy Division, The Cure, Bad Religion, The Sisters of Mercy, Sex Pistols, Depeche Mode, Simple Minds and U2. One band from today that I can highly recommend is A Projection.
Your favorite fictional character.
Someone worth following on social media.
One person you should definitely follow on TikTok, especially if you work in an agency, is Robert Mayhew. He posts things about day-to-day life at an agency. It's very authentic. His parodies are just great. Maybe because they aren't parodies.
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
As a managing director, I am not a creative person in the true sense of the word, but my strength is that I can sort out the good work from the bad work very quickly. That is a kind of creativity. At least in my eyes. But maybe my creative team will see it differently?
Your biggest weakness.
I'm too enthusiastic when it comes to our own ideas/work. The same goes for pitches. Sometimes, it would be useful to have a more professional distance. But I can't help fighting for our ideas, and maybe it's normal to think your work is the greatest.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Spending time with Pauline, my lovely daughter, and Marla, our Goldendoodle, makes me absolutely happy. That's the best part of the day. And just so I am now misunderstood: spending time with my wife is nice, too.
One thing that always makes you sad.
It makes me really sad (and moody) when my favorite soccer club loses a match (for those who are interested: It's WERDER BREMEN!). It was a nightmare and a very very sad weekend when they were relegated to the second division two years ago. But since last year, they are back where they belong: In the first division!
Something people would find surprising about you.
I don't like beer. Which is very unusual for a German.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in health.
Running a small grocery store (including a bakery). As a child, I used to love running around and watching my grandfather work. The staff were all super nice because I was the boss' first grandchild. That had a lot of advantages: I could eat my fill of sweets and biscuits. The downside was that when I got home, I was already too full for my mum's lunch. I have nothing but great memories.