Rik Ledder, Darre van Dijk, and Haris Trnjanin: TBWA\NEBOKO’s Adformatie50 Standouts Shaping Advertising Excellence and Inclusivity

October 11, 2023

This article was originally in Adformatie issue #5 (15 September 2023). Credits, therefore, go to Adformatie.

Rob Benjamens once said, in regard to the Adformatie50, “Make sure you’re in Adformatie every week. Make sure you’re at the forefront of everyone’s minds and you’ll be in this list. That’s the most important lesson in advertising: awareness of your day to day relevance and presence.”

One accomplished figure in the advertising realm obviously took Benjamens’s advice to heart. Rik Ledder, the approachable and press friendly CEO of TBWA\NEBOKO Group, was inaugurated on the April 1st
April of last year as chairman of the VIA and has recently started writing a monthly column in Adformatie.nl. He has ended the year high in the Adformatie50 list per usual, ranking number 3.

In January of 2021 Adformatie named Ledder ‘Person of the year 2020’, and two and a half years later his contemporaries have said that this star is still on the rise. This is reflected in media heavyweights dubbing him ‘the poster boy of the advertising industry’. Positive testimonies pertaining to his work ethic include “Empathetic, successful and involved with his people, agency, clients and the industry as a whole” and “not only a pleasant person but also a driven leader of a successful agency.” On top of this, opinion on Ledder as a person include sentiments such as, “Living proof that as a down-to-earth, sympathetic guy, you can make it to the top of the advertising industry” and “Simply great and fun.”

Ledder’s position as the chairman of the VIA has garnered him much respect from others in the industry. The general consensus being that “As VIA foreman, Ledder clearly has the best interests of the profession at heart.” And that he has stepped up to become an industry leader. Above all Ledder’s consistency is praised by his fellow executives with another agency director, who has faced comparable pressures when it comes to consistency, saying “To keep an agency at the top is perhaps even more difficult that getting to the top to begin with.”

A young agency director said he admires Ledder because “He is the embodiment of TBWA, the best agency in the Netherlands.” Why does TBWA come out on top? “Because they have everything. Razor sharp strategy, enviable creative work and in terms of innovation they are ahead of the curve. That’s why they have the best client list in the Netherlands. They’ve been playing at Champions League level for years. I’m jealous.”

This same agency director named Darre van Dijk, a notable TBWA colleague of Ledder’s, as a close second when it comes to those he admires. This year, Van Dijk comes in at number 21 on the Adformatie100. Ledder and van Dijk’s high ranking positions mean that TBWA\NEBOKO is the only agency this year to have two members in the top 50.

The agency director’s dubbing of TBWA\NEBOKO as a Champions League player isn’t wrong. They remain the Ajax of the Dutch advertisement world, even though PSV or Feijenoord may take the championship title from time to time. The agency is swimming in awards, boasting the most Dutch agency wins at Cannes this year. These included a Silver Lion for Adidas and a Bronze Lion for the New Year’s Eve feel-good film for the State Lottery, which also won the Ster Gouden Loeki 2022.

All this success is also thanks to TBWA\NEBOKO’s talent coach Haris Trnjanin, who was appointed in early 2022. According to his colleague, Trnjanin’s open-minded approach looks beyond conventional talent and has led TBWA\NEBOKO to become not just a more diverse and inclusive place, but also “A vibrant creative stronghold that is accessible to everyone.”

This new generation of talent is translated into the work produced by the agency. In an article for the August 1st
edition of the Noord-Hollands Dagblad about the increase of Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace, Pink Rabbit director Ismael ten Heuvel goes into depth about the McDonald’s short film he worked on in partnership with TBWA\NEBOKO and TBWA\X. Its heartwarmingly, inclusive premise follows the love-at-first-sight story of Marit, a young woman from Texel, and city-girl Lotte.

TBWA’s efforts to move the Dutch advertising industry forward into a new age of inclusion don’t just end at its work. For its initiative TBWA\NXT, a program that introduces underprivileged students of diverse backgrounds to the creative industry, the agency won the Diversity in Business award in 2022. The award is for initiatives that aim to increase diversity in the workplace and is awarded by the Minister of Social Affairs, Karien van Gennip.