.

We did an enormous amount of 'firsts' in those years, and it was the most fun I've ever had working. Almost everyone was in their 20s. We were doing insane hours, working around the world and partying like every party could be the last one ever.

Your name, plus your original "web name/handle"
Lars Bastholm. I never had a web name or handle. Now I wish I'd gone with Lars the Almighty or The Bastman or something. Is it too late?


Your first web encounter, year etc.

In 1993, I was working as a researcher at a TV news station and they got web access installed in their library.

I was asked to spend two weeks surfing the web and put together a report about it with an emphasis on whether it was a useful research tool.

I used the Mosaic browser (a precursor to Netscape) to do online research. It was very, very slow – remember the World Wide Wait?

Needless to say, there were very few verifiable sources on the web at that point, so my conclusion was that it currently couldn’t replace more traditional research, but that it had incredible potential. I think I was correct on that last point. I fondly remember buying a not-that-large book called “The Internet Yellow Pages” that proudly claimed to have “every URL in the world in one handy place”.


What our readers might recognise you most for, when you first hit the web.

After a brief stint working for Warner Bros in Denmark, I somehow stumbled into advertising and got hired as a copywriter at Grey Advertising in Copenhagen.

They had a single computer with Internet access.

An account guy and me took to spending our evenings surfing the web, and then we hatched a plan. We wanted to open up a new department, Grey Interactive, and begin making Internet stuff for our clients.

We took our idea to the CEO, and he said, sure, as long as we did our day jobs too. So for a while, we’d be doing interactive at night, while cranking out traditional ads during the day. After 6 months, we were about 15 people doing banners and websites, and we finally got recognized as an actual business unit, even though the old-skool ad people looked at us weirdly.

Then, one day in early 1997, I got a call from a guy called Tim Frank Andersen, who had started an interactive agency called Networkers. He sweet-talked me into joining them as their first creative director. I was employee no 13. Within two years, we grew to over 300 people and were acquired by Swedish Internet giant, Framfab.

In 1999, we were invited to pitch for a project for Nike. We literally dropped everything and went about putting together a pitch for a crazy idea.

We won that pitch and the next and all of a sudden, we were Nike’s Agency of Record for nikefootball.com, nikewomen.com and nikefreestyle.com to name the best known sites.

The Nike Football site won a Cyber Lion Grand Prix in Cannes in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

To my knowledge, it’s the only individual site to ever have won 3 grand prix.

We also won a ton of other awards around the world for the Nike work.


We did an enormous amount of 'firsts' in those years, and it was the most fun I've ever had working. Almost everyone was in their 20s. We were doing insane hours, working around the world and partying like every party could be the last one ever.


It took its toll on you. My vacations, when I remembered to take them, mostly consisted of me catching up on sleep and staring at clouds. And, frankly, I had no personal life to speak of. 


Your digital journey since.

In 2004, I moved to New York to open up an office for AKQA. I was literally airlifted in and had to start by finding an office space, then hire a skeleton crew and start looking for clients.

For a few weeks, we were the only digital agency in the world with no Internet connection (damn you, Verizon).

Luckily, we were close enough to the powerful wifi signal in the nearby Apple Store that we could piggyback on their signal (thank you, Apple).

Over the course of the next 5 years, we built that office into a 120-person shop and landed global digital agency of record duties for Coca-Cola, Smirnoff and Motorola as well as many other clients.

I really enjoyed my time at AKQA. It was a great group of passionate and fun people to work with, both in NYC and globally. However, I’d become frustrated with collaborating with other agencies and what felt like a lack of a seat at the table, when it came to determining the creative strategies for many of the brands we were working with. Digital always seemed like an afterthought.


So when Ogilvy called in 2009 and asked, if I were interested in becoming their first ever North American Chief Digital Creative Officer (long title alert!), I was intrigued by the opportunity to try and do digital from the inside of one of the more traditional agencies in the industry.

Initially, it was quite fun. The digital group pitched and won the North American integrated account for IKEA and clients like American Express were also open to doing interesting things in the digital realm.

After I’d been with Ogilvy for a little over a year, they asked me to take on the additional role of Chief Creative Officer for the New York office with the mandate of trying to integrate digital and traditional creative more.

I’m not gonna lie; it was a very difficult job. I routinely put in 14-hour workdays, and it still felt like I was not getting it all done. It was also a very political organization and less receptive to change than I had hoped.

Ogilvy was (and is) an intriguing place. I don’t think I’ve ever met more smart people in one organization, but the sheer size and scope of the place made it hard to get everyone to buy into a common vision.

During my years there, I put on quite a bit of weight, my skin turned gray and I’d gotten so far removed from the creative work that I felt more like a bureaucrat than a creative. It was time to leave. It was 3 fascinating years, and I learned a lot about big agency life.

But for my physical and mental health’s sake, I needed a change.


To recharge the batteries, my wife and I went on a long trip driving around New Zealand. It was just what the doctor ordered.

When we came back to NYC, I started a job at Cheil Worldwide. They are not widely known in the West, but they are huge in their native South Korea and in the rest of Asia. They came to me asking if I wanted to help build a presence for them in the US. It was almost the exact opposite of Ogilvy: very hands on, no existing infrastructure to worry about and pretty free reins to build an agency. It sounded ideal.

Samsung was their primary client and we got to make some fun things for them. But about 8 months into my tenure there, their plans for the US expansion changed, and I left Cheil after just one year. I was disappointed that the original plan never materialized, but I picked up some international diplomacy skills along the way and got to work on digital projects with David Beckham and James Franco that were weird and challenging.

 

What are you up to now?
In early 2013, I moved to Los Angeles.

My wife and I are running a small creative consultancy, we are expecting our first baby and I am working on a personal project that may one day become a novel.

It’s a very different lifestyle out here and so far, I’m enjoying it. Although I am getting a little itchy, so I may return to full-time employment, if the right opportunity turns up.


hr
Lars Bastholm... then
Lars Bastholm... then

Lars Bastholm... now
Lars Bastholm... now

Teaching James Franco how to peel an imaginary potato
Teaching James Franco how to peel an imaginary potato

AKQA roof brainstorm
AKQA roof brainstorm

View from my office at Ogilvy
View from my office at Ogilvy

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