Meet the founders

We Are is a global network of fiercely independent advertising & communication agencies. Privately owned means: our skin is in it. So you can trust us to deliver.
Always.

Kingdom

As a child, Maco Domínguez fell in love with literature, photography, music and production. Finding a profession that could combine these elements was always her dream. Fast forward 28 years and her story has taken on the proportions of a wonderful novel.

Everyone at Kingdom has often heard Maco recite her seemingly simple mantra: “The details are not the details, they make the design.” Maco combines an innate eye for detail with solution oriented thinking. Merging these gifts often results in extraordinary projects. Like Matisse before her, Maco explores new perspectives and the original solutions they generate. She does her job with an almost hedonistic passion.

“The details are not the details, they make the design.”

Passion is the common thread to everything in her life. Her culinary creativity gives rise to opulent banquets, as Maco loves to pamper her family. Together with her partner and daughter, she’s captivated by seeing and experiencing the world. You might even bump into her traveling around Europe and the Americas to see the finest expositions and enjoy concerts.

If we ever lose track of Maco, our best bet is a stunning backdrop featuring water and a glimpse of the horizon. You’ll find her there, philosophizing and as ever making new plans for the future.

Team eleven

If you’d asked Nicholas Gill years ago what he wanted to be, he’d have said a football player and more specifically, top Scottish scorer Kenny Dalglish.

Or an ice-cream seller. On the beach. At Team Eleven, he also likes to link the useful to the enjoyable. Offering employees the very best working experience of their lives, they don’t settle for anything less at Team Eleven. It’s not desire for profit, but shared ambition that’s the starting point for bringing the right people together.

Because the first ten teams already had homes in London, Team Eleven deliberately decided on an old bank building in Bath for their base. Is this really a coincidence? When you ask clients about Nicholas, they describe him as a man who, by pulling out the plug at the right moment, can even get stagnant water to flow in the right direction. Directly on target as a single force. For the sake of convenience, we can call Nicholas the Bat(h)man of Bath, your local superhero.

“We can call Nicholas the Bat(h)man of Bath, your local superhero.”

But you could also bump into him in Italy. Specifically in the fabulous village of Pienza, where he stumbled upon a beautiful path which opens onto a glorious vista of Tuscan countryside. Perhaps it leads to the source of all ingenious marketing strategies. Who knows? Only Nicholas can tell…

Nik Margolis has led ad agencies for most of his professional life. At Team Eleven he forms a cast-iron triumvirate with Sophie Gibson and Nicholas Gill. As business partner, he broadens and strengthens the network of creative and production talent that Team Eleven promotes.

However, if you’d asked Nik when he was 11, he would have replied that he had very different goals. Those of the top teams competing in the Premier League for example. Once he’d graduated, he fired off application letters in all directions: retail, the civil service, even the prison service. Nik had a guide containing the names of the best graduate employers. His attempts to contact them stalled somewhere halfway through the letter ’B’. Luckily that was enough to get him started at Brann, a marketing agency. The rest is history.

 

“Nik spent two years with the Royal Shakespeare Company”

Clients describe Nik as a reliable partner. He refers to himself as a no-nonsense ad man with an excellent sense of humour. Or perhaps he’s joking. His venture into the theatre proves that he’s eloquent, with an excellent sense of timing. Nik spent two years with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in over 200 productions at the Barbican in London.

In the picturesque Cotswolds, Nik has developed his own micro-network, comprising his partner, two teenage daughters, two younger stepchildren and the dog. Team Seven.

Nijgh

It’s sometime in the mid-1970s and a callow Chiel is sitting in his room working diligently on his own newspaper. His great inspiration and mentor at that time is the cartoon hero The Pink Panther. Thankfully, a takeover by Rupert Murdoch was narrowly avoided.

Years later, a vocational test at school confirms what he himself had realised. Chiel van de Ven throws himself into the world of creative communication and design. For the first time in his life, he can sit still for more than 10 minutes. In the religious world, you’d think of it as a calling.

He’s already onto the next TikTok, before it’s got going.

Chiel describes himself as a cross between a Retriever and a Pit Bull. Playful and enthusiastic, but boundlessly dogged. What’s more, he can smell new trends from miles away. He’s already onto the next TikTok, before it’s got going.

At home in Drimmelen, which describes itself as the most beautiful village in Brabant, Chiel separates body and mind. When he crafts wood in his picturesque cottage, the comparison with Geppetto springs to mind.

If Chiel wasn’t in advertising, he might have become an archaeologist. Together with his wife, he combs flea markets for perfect vintage finds. We’re delighted that the oldest ad agency in the Netherlands has dug up this hip cat.

Classy, practical and blessed with timeless elegance. If this were a women’s magazine, we would unquestionably compare Kirsten Esser to the Hermès Birkin Bag. Not a coincidence, as Kirsten has had a soft spot for bags all her life. As a young girl, she dreamed of her own label. An aspiration that she certainly hasn’t shelved.

If she were ever to follow that path, she can count on a vast amount of experience as brand strategy has absorbed Kirsten throughout her career. As managing director, she guides the way at Nijgh and comes up with solutions even before problems arise. She talks straight and gets things done. Kirsten sets the bar high for herself and her team. If she bumps her head while doing so, she would definitely see the funny side to it.

Kirsten comes up with solutions even before problems arise.

Sure, as the mother of all clichés, motherhood has softened her. Kirsten’s daughter does not tolerate deadlines, gently nudging Kirsten to settle for plan B, C or even D.

If Kirsten could get a free ticket to the talent store, she would grab extra development skills, a law degree and shot of know-how about (fashion) design. She’s never short of plans so watch this space.

Kislorod

It was about 20 years ago that Mikhail Karavanov started his adventure in the world of marketing and advertising. With five years’ experience in business development at a marketing agency, he made the leap. He started his own agency, Kislorod. Russian for oxygen.

As a businessman, he forsakes well-trodden paths and drives a breath of fresh air through the advertising world with creative solutions tailored to his clients.

At the end of the day, it’s all about…. Kislorod.

When he hangs up his collar and tie, he replenishes his oxygen in sport or on the ski slopes. No better way to clear your head.

Mikhail describes himself as a rational man. With him, common sense prevails. He finds pleasure in small things, a smile from a passer-by, good school results from his son, a satisfied client.

But the greatest pleasure resides in being true to yourself rather than in meeting what is expected of you. At the end of the day, it’s all about…. Kislorod.

Interpartners

‘Keep looking, don’t settle,’ Katya from Interpartners once said. Apparently it turns out this was Steve Jobs’ motto as well. As Katya loves new destinations, she’s confident that the journey she makes will only get more interesting as she moves in new directions.

It’s been quite an adventure. With over 24 years of advertising under her belt, Managing Partner Katya Dimitrova is certainly battle-hardened. At the same time, she’s still in tune with millennials everywhere, thanks to her 19 year old son and daughter. That’s right, Katya’s a certified mum of twins.

“We’re not quite sure at what breakneck speed her inspiring ideas and strategies flash by”

If she’s not at her desk, you’ll probably find her burning rubber on a racing track. We’re not quite sure at what breakneck speed her inspiring ideas and strategies flash by, but they’re sure to get fined one day. Katya embraces challenges and aims high. She loves helping her colleagues grow and blossom. Supporting and nurturing her team is what makes her tick.

Some professional advice to all of Katya’s clients. She might look like a hard nut to crack, but have you ever tried taking her to a karaoke party? You’ll do great business.

Hammer Agency

Péter Szoboszlay took a big jump into the unknown in in the ‘80s and escaped communist era Hungary to go and work in NY as an intern. Little did he expect to land in the office of absolute legend designer Saul Bass. Yes, thàt one. Péter could have stayed in the Big Apple but choose to return to his native paprika and help pull his home country into a fresh start. That worked. And so did Péters ad agency, one of the very first after the country’s turnaround.

Flash forward a couple of decades plus lots of hard work, a clear sense for the moment, and a touch of serendipity: Hammer Agency has hit the nail on the head and now sprouts 4 offices in 4 countries.

ACT & REACT

For 20 years, Thomas Szabo has been the driving force behind act&react­. If the ampersand in their logo ever fails, Thomas can take its place himself. He connects, he likes to bring people together who can lift one another to a higher level. Like classical musicians who, as a single human machine, hanker after a breathless audience.

Music, design, modern art, architecture… Thomas draws his inspiration from people who unleash their crazy creations into the world.

Continuous salvos of ‘why’ questions keep him sharp.

Thomas sees his two children as the best prevention from dozing off. Continuous salvos of ‘why’ questions keep him sharp. Learning the piano and writing a book were still on his bucket list. But after he explored the tension between digitisation and ethics in his book, ‘Digital Excellence Ethics’, the latter can be removed from the list. Maybe next year, Szabo in concert?

The Adkitchen

It takes courage to move from Lebanon to the United Arab Emirates with three young children and set up your own company in the midst of an economic crisis.

And yet, always on the lookout for a new challenge, this is exactly what Fady Karim did when he settled in Dubai in 2009.

In theAdkitchen, the secret ingredient for every successful recipe is flexibility.

Do Fady’s clients want an event? Then they get one.

Do they want an event on top of Mount Everest with speakers from every continent and hot appetizers? There’s a 99% chance that Fady will say ‘yes’. He makes it a point of honour to lead every assignment to a flawless conclusion.

“Hi, I’m Fady. I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

Usually these kinds of stories are reserved for participants in TV quizzes, but it was Fady’s brother who enrolled him at university for an Advertising and Marketing course. We must be eternally grateful to him, or Leonardo DiCaprio would be out of work today. Indeed, Fady would have taken up acting as a career. Or become a Wall Street stockbroker. Perhaps both.

Still, he doesn’t have a bad role. His team members call him The Godfather. Since he looks like Al Pacino. And because of the confidence with which he makes his opening gambit. ‘Hi, I’m Fady. I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.’

Absoluut

After finishing only second in Belgium’s most important rock contest, Ronny Schildermans gave up his plan for World Music Domination and pursued a career in advertising. Yes, it’s all or nothing with creative Ronny: second best will not do. Neither will ‘second in command’. So in 2003, he set up his own agency Absoluut in his kitchen.

“It’s not enough to kick ass.
It’s also about whose ass you kick.”

Not with Joris Mateusen, he joined later. Arguably a better cook, but not a founder. That kept nagging, so when Joris had the opportunity to to become founder of We Are, he jumped for it. Classic case of compensation. An avid reader, strategist and crossfitter, Joris has an eye on both the long and short term. So he’s currently aiming and training for gold in the European Championship Powerlifting 2069 ( + 90 years old category). Meanwhile, Ronny is still elektrorockin’ it with his band All Things Automatic.

But Ronny’s & Joris’ focus is strictly on doing great work with the best possible result plus a benefit for a nicer world. It’s not enough to kick ass. It’s also about whose ass you kick.

The Absoluut building. Not all ours. Yet.
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