Jörg Buckmann has not only launched a meteoritic career as an unconventional entrepreneur and in-demand speaker. He is also known for coining the term “Frechmut”, which has worked its way with full force into the German vocabulary. “Frechmut” according to Buckmann is a cocktail of the German words Frechheit (cheekiness), Mut (courage), Leidenschaft (passion), Ego und Tatkraft (drive). Along with its inherent addictive nature, of course.
In real life Jörg Buckmann provides practical support for businesses when it comes to employer branding and HR marketing. Before his switch to freelance he worked for many years as head of human resources. In order to attain his goals, Jörg Buckmann has always relied on videos – which of course tend to include a healthy dose of “Frechmut”. In his interview with Videothink, he explains how the moving image can be a valuable asset to communication.
Interview with Jörg Buckmann
Videothink: Jörg, how would you explain to an alien what you do?
Jörg Buckmnann: I help businesses and authorities look their best in the terrestrial labour market. Not as awkward and misshapen like you aliens. To which the alien would probably answer something like: Nadajewujarosch!!!
Let’s swap aliens for human beings. Someone once told me that to work in human resources you have to like people. Jörg, do you like people?
That’s a nasty question. Yes, of course, it’s important to like people if you work in HR. There’s no question about it. But it probably helps, to be a bit of an extrovert too.Yes, I like people and I like being around them. But: people with overzealous do-gooder helper syndrome don’t belong in HR. I myself, for example, can’t say that I like all people in general. And the list to prove that point is quite extensive.
You use films noticeably often in your work. Why?
One of my favourite professors, Christoph Beck once said – or wrote, I can’t remember exactly: Videos allow people to talk to people. That hits the nail on the head. In personnel marketing it is important for the messages to come across in a plausible manner. And in general: A good film is entertaining and informative. That’s what HR marketing should be like.
Co-workers or executives who explain in a film what it’s like to work for an employer, come across as credible if you allow them to talk freely and don’t give them a script to follow. Jörg Buckmann
Would you make a good film about a bad employer?
The right answer would be: No, of course not. But in reality: If I think the employer is likeable, then probably yes.
Is there a company or organisation you would especially like to work for? And any you would never work for? Why?
Never? For the SVP (Swiss People’s Party) and for the Unia (Swiss Trade Union). As a general rule, I don’t want to work with extremists – both of the aforementioned could be considered that, to a certain extent. I would love to work for Swatch. As a watch enthusiast, it’s a company that’s close to my heart and I think Nick Hayek, much like his father, comes across incredibly charismatic. There’s so much knowledge and passion in their products – I would like to finally incorporate that into their employer branding. And for Tamedia or SRF (Swiss Radio and Television). The media industry is very interesting, it fascinates me. I would like to contribute to their employer branding too.
A film always translates a point of view and therefore a snippet of reality. How do you avoid people who apply for jobs thanks to your videos, being deceived, if the expectations don’t live up to the reality of the company?
I don’t get involved until the conceptual or scripting process of a video. And I try to lend an input with honest feedback. But ultimately, I am only there for support and advise.
Let’s talk about motivation: Can films motivate a viewer into doing something? Or can they only spark a desire that was there in the first place? What is motivation exactly?
It’s a bit like the line in the Kinder Surprise ad. «But there’s three things in one?!» So: I’d describe motivation – in simple terms – as a drive to do something. Can films “motivate” us into doing something? I think so. Of course when it comes to the job market, I guess a mix of different «points» have to be taken into account and have to be just right for me to press the “apply” button. But I strongly believe that film can transport emotions that ultimately influence our behaviour. The decision to apply for a new job is highly driven by emotions. Videos therefore naturally find their way into the HR-mix.
Something that I’ve always wanted to know – even though it has nothing to do with film: Is it true that large companies, in a bid to appear prestigious and reputable, post several vacancies online for jobs that don’t exist or have already been taken?
No, that’s a myth. It’s true however that tens of thousands of job ads in Switzerland correspond to a lesser number of positions actually available: Recruiters write them based on real job advertisements of the company in an effort to get as many interesting CVs as possible to then present to the company. That’s a fact. From time to time, some companies choose to publish expensive job ads – in an effort to heighten their brand image – in the traditional executive jobs section in newspapers such as the Tagesanzeiger, Sontaggszeitung or the NZZ. But you can hardly take those seriously. These advertisements are so abysmal, they might spark a number of irrelevant outcomes, but definitely don’t benefit the brand itself.
And talking about job advertisements and applications: When do you think it will become commonplace to apply with a video instead of a written document? In what case would you advise to do so?
Even though I’m a great fan of video: I don’t think that’ll happen in my lifetime. And I have to admit that the handling and processing of video applications is almost impossible. It’s incredibly time-consuming. Take a job in commerce for example, which receives around 80 applications. Imagine if they were all in video format. Time wise, it would be impossible for an HR team to process all the application.
The films you participate in – in front and behind the scenes – are oftentimes unconventional and original. You set the bar high, putting you and others under pressure to constantly surpass yourselves. Where does that eventually lead? If everyone on the job market is hyper creative, will ordinary films become extraordinary one day?
Well, every time I have another good idea, I ask myself the same thing. And to be honest: Yes, it’s a pressure to constantly provide the client with new and different ideas, not only when it comes to video…It does sometimes cause me sleepless nights. But somehow it always works out. I’ve learnt that when it comes to creative aspects, it helps to get a second or third opinion.
We found out on your website that your craft and design grade in primary school was a 4.5. And today on a daily basis you complete creative design tasks. Did your primary school teacher back then fail to recognise your talent? Or how would you explain you’ve ended up on this career path?
Yes, Mister Brändle, who among other subjects, taught me crafts and design and whom I hold in very high esteem, didn’t have an easy job. I really did have two left hands. I am completely talentless and fail in the most mundane manual tasks. Fortunately there are people, who have the talents I lack. I did however develop a strong sense of imagination, probably more from my parents than my teachers. I boil over with ideas. I constantly have these cool ideas, often in everyday life. It’s not something I choose, it just happens. But please don’t ask me how to hang a painting on a wall…
Recently you founded an advertising agency: When will we see Mehrblick Zürich’s first commercial?
I have to correct you there. Along with Kristian Widmer, as chief mate, we haven’t set up an advertising agency, but what perhaps is the world’s first HR advertising shipping company. In landlocked Zurich of all places! We ship our clients attractive employer branding and jobs across the job market high seas to prospective customers. And seen as in this endeavour, communication plays an important role, we call ourselves quite fittingly a “Re(e)derei”. (Fortunate and clever play on words in German: Reederei = shipping company; Reden = to talk). As you can see we don’t take ourselves too seriously – unlike we do our projects and customers. Even though, I think Zurich could do with a shipping company. I mean, Hamburg connects to the sea too…Our first campaign will launch online in a matter of days. It’s filled with energy. I don’t want to give too much away. Except: that of course videos play an important role here too.
One last question, just out of curiosity: If they were to make a film about your life, who would play you?
(laughs out loud). Well, that’s easy: George Clooney! Who else? Or Tom Cruise, if he insisted. The similarity is uncanny, I think…Okay, sometimes a bit of dreaming doesn’t harm anyone. Axel Prahl, the somewhat thickset inspector Thiel from the TV-series Tatort, would probably be a more realistic match.
Thank you very much, Jörg, for the interview!
Our Videothink interviews can do all but one thing: bore. In our interview section directors, creative heads, key people in the film world and other exponents of national and international moving image communication have their say. The articles so far, aside from Jörg Buckmann, portray: Adrian Teijido (Director of Photography, about his work on Netflix’ Narcos) Wigald Boning, Juerg Ebe, Patrick Merz, Kristian Widmer and Movie Director Markus Welter.