2 Minutes With ... Tiina Salzberg, Chief Strategy Officer at TILT/180 Kingsday

Creative inspirations and learnings from Covid

Born in Finland and raised in the U.S., Tiina Salzberg has enjoyed a wide-ranging career spanning agency- and client-side roles.

Following roles at Euro RSCG and Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, she joined Mondelez International in Zurich, where she led global brand strategy and subsequently global brand equity for the coffee business. 

She joined 180 Kingsday in the summer of 2017 to lead the agency’s strategic output. In 2019, Tiina launched TILT, an extension of 180 Kingsday that works with international brands such as PepsiCo, Unilever and Danone as coaches, rather than consultants, to deliver actionable brand thinking and tangible business results. 

We spent two minutes with Salzberg to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Tiina, tell us ...

The town where you were born, and where you live now.

I was born in Vaasa, Finland, largely grew up in the States, and now live in Amsterdam.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

A photographer for National Geographic. 

How you discovered you were creative.

Through dance. I studied ballet for 12 years and performed in giant concert halls. Discovering the depth of feeling and language through movement was a big part of understanding myself and expressing that to the world. It taught me a lot about processing emotions, and representing them created greater meaning. I still use a lot of that training in my personal and professional life today. 

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

Janis Joplin. She was fearless but vulnerable. The mark of a true creative. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

Losing a close friend in a car accident the day after our high school graduation. It was a defining moment and one that never leaves you. 

The first concert you saw, and your favourite band or musician today.

Cher. Which, for me at least, still holds up! Right now, I am loving The Cave Singers.

Your favorite visual artist.

Henri Matisse, particularly his cut-outs, which he created towards the end of his life when he was terminally ill. To continue to reinvent, to see beauty during dark times, isn't easy, as we've all discovered lately. That idea of seeing the world not as it is but as it could be is enduringly powerful. 

Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction.

Stephen Dedalus from The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. He's one of the most perfectly drawn characters I've ever encountered, and despite having read it three decades ago, it still sticks with me. 

The best book you've read lately.

The Goldfinch. Read the book, don't watch the film. 

Your favorite movie.

Shawshank Redemption. Watch the film and read the novella. ;-)

Your favorite Instagram follow.

@overheardla. I'm a people watcher, so to be able to do this from afar, from home, is a gift. And I also personally LOVE overhearing things on the street when they are completely out of context—the hilarity of that is awesome. 

How the Covid-19 crisis has changed your life, personally or professionally, in recent months.

I have been separated from my life partner for four months. This has had a profound impact on me, but I have also cherished cooking and eating dinner every night with my two teenage boys. They're on the brink of leaving home, off to university, and I feel as though I have been gifted precious time with them.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why.

Kenco, "Coffee vs. Gangs." Kenco had always been a brand which stood up for fairness, so we took the bold step of working with teens in Honduras to steer them away from gang life and instead give them a future in coffee growing. 

Kenco | Coffee vs. Gangs
Your favorite creative project from the past year, and why.

I loved working with Bonprix, a European fashion retailer that had lost their way. There was, and arguably still is, a category-wide problem within fashion, portraying women as perfect but soulless. We wanted to tilt that perspective and show that perfect is actually super boring, vapid and dull. Bonprix was seen as a brand for "housewives," so we took the misconceptions people have about middle-aged women and the brand and flipped it to show women as they are—multifaceted, passionate and complex. 

Bonprix | It's Me
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

Dos Equis, "The Most Interesting Man in the World." It was cinematic, playful and did what so many brands neglect to do—it made advertising that was memorable.

Someone else's creative project that you've been envious of lately.

"Viva La Vulva" by Libresse. Brave and brazenly feminist. Loved it. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

An eye for aesthetics and an inherent nosiness, which also means a deep fascination with human psychology. You must understand what makes humans tick before you can start shaping the narrative. 

Your weakness or blind spot.

I am too trusting.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Love, and seeing all the beautiful ways it plays out in the world. For a long time, the word love would prompt an eye-roll for many. It had been diluted so much, and perhaps even undervalued, but in the sadness and frustration which has played out over the last few months, the demonstrations of love in all forms have been heartwarming and overwhelming—something I hope will continue for the long term. 

One thing that always makes you sad.

Seeing either of my children in any pain—emotional, physical, spiritual.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.


Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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