2 Minutes With …Tolga Büyükdoganay, CCO of Ogilvy Amsterdam

On swiftly solving problems

After studying graphic design, Tolga spent time wandering around Europe and the Middle East—from Istanbul to Vienna, Frankfurt to Düsseldorf, and recently to Amsterdam, where he landed at Ogilvy. 

We spent two minutes with Tolga to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Tolga, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in sunny Istanbul. Mainly on the Asian side of the city. We moved a lot. But wherever we moved, if I had my skateboard, guitar and Commodore 64, I was happy. Now, after living many years in Austria and Germany, I'm in Amsterdam with my lovely wife Ebru and my funny daughter Vién. Amsterdam is not so sunny like Istanbul. I remember the day I moved in: a barista at the airport Starbucks asked me what I was doing in Amsterdam. I told her about the move. And she said "What? You leave a sunny country to come here?!" For me, Amsterdam is heaven. It makes you feel relaxed and at home.

How you first realized you were creative.

I started drawing caricatures when I was small. I also started doing comics with funny stories. I would think of a story, and I could draw it and write the dialogue. Recently, I visited my family home to look at some of the old drawings. But unfortunately, someone threw them away. 

A person you idolized creatively early on.

I am a film freak, so I love lots of directors, like early SpielbergMiyazaki's work has had an influence on me, too. I loved the work of Ian Anderson, David Carson and Neville Brody during my design study years. I was heavily influenced by Yngwie Malmsteen, because I wanted to play the guitar like him. I am a big fan of Kraftwerk.

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

One of my teachers caught me not paying attention in class but drawing caricatures and comic stories instead. She took my drawings away. I had to ask my family to ask the teacher for them back. And the teacher still did not give them back. She said "Your son will be very famous, and I will be holding his earlier works." It gave me the inspiration to follow a creative field.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

I miss Virgil Abloh. I examined very closely how he worked with his teams. Watched all his TED talks or talks in universities. I am sorry we lost him so early. 

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

I became a fan of Ruben Östlund after watching his film Force Majeure. I also follow him on Instagram and frequently bug him with my messages. He hearted one, and I remember showing it to my wife with pride! His latest film, Triangle of Sadness, is a must watch. I couldn't watch all the Oscar nominees yet, but The Holdovers, Anatomy of a Fall, American Fiction and Dream Scenario I found really inspiring.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

I like the craft of the "Catch of the Day 2050" ad we did last year. 

A recent project you're proud of. 

I am very proud of our latest AI caampaign for Milka. We worked with a local rapper favored by Gen-Z here in The Netherlands. Our research says 48 percent of Gen-Z has trouble sharing their feelings. To tackle this, we wanted to give them a tool. We found an old Dutch saying: "Als je het niet zeggen kan, zing it dan." That roughly translates to: "If you cannot say it, sing it." We gave Gen-Z an AI tool to create custom songs with their favorite artist, so they can express their emotions to anyone they like. It was also great that we launched it during Valentine's week. 

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

"Subservient Chicken" from Burger King. It is a tool you can have fun with, without AI. They just shot each and every possibility filled with easter eggs. Amazingly futuristic for its time. And it still is.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

I really like the Magnum's "Find Your Summer." It is winter in the ad and the sales are probably not good on the ice cream front. But, it's clever to advertise ice cream at this time, because you are probably the only voice. I liked the human part of it, like missing the sun. I can emotionally connect with this. The craft of the work is amazing, thanks to Juan Cabral and Ale Burset.

From this year's Super Bowl, my jaw dropped for the CeraVe ad with Michael Cera. To make this a reality takes so much courage, from both the agency and client side. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

I can solve problems with incredible speed.

Your biggest weakness.

Not being understood is my weakness. Sometimes solutions are far out or too strange. So, I fear that people will think I am totally bonkers.

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

I have many. Stephan Vogel, our EMEA CCO. Pete Case was my global CCO when we worked at Social.Lab. I learned a lot from them both and still do. And of course our EMEA ECD meetings gang. We meet two times a year and I get inspired to the max.

How you're paying it forward with the next generation of creatives.

I love interacting with our next generation of creatives. I did coaching for the D&AD last year and have also done LIAsons coaching with the London International Awards. I try to remind the next generation that anything is possible. You just have to sit down and make it happen. Mainly, it is about priorities. And having a little talent. You never know if you do or don't have it. Someone has to tell it to you. I try to say it very loudly, so they understand and break their Imposter Syndrome.

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

I like making music. I also like fishing—and if I could do it in a sustainable way, why not? But the thing that makes me enjoy life is telling jokes. That would be great, to earn a living by making jokes. Maybe that is my dream. Maybe I am doing it already.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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