#100K: Lukas Adda


From him I learned: the internet will not go away. With him, I (and Ketchum) won the first online award (for a flirt coach on Second Life on behalf of dating platform FriendsScout24) – winning an online award at a time when digital communication were still in their infancy.

And with him (and the wonderful Claudia Siebert) I published the podcast series Kanal Grün – long before podcasts became popular. Produced in a tiny basement studio of the agency and with the help of the founding father of German podcasts Alex Wunschel.

He is a pioneer of digital communication. He is The Digital Guide. He is Lukas Adda.

Lukas, great to have you on this #100K-interview - we haven't seen each other in at least three years. Three years that you used to build a second home – you live now in Hamburg and Portugal. Three years of intense work. Three years, in which the pandemic gave us quite a hard time. Locking back… is there anything you have learned over these years? Something you definitely will keep for today and the future?

What´s really weird – looking back - is how much time I've spent sitting.
Sitting behind a computer screen. Sitting at my desk. Sitting at home.

The pandemic and the first lockdowns changed a lot. It changed the point of view on digitalization and online communication for many of my clients. From one day to another they pushed all massively – at once. This was good for my business. I worked like crazy. But it wasn't good for my health - my physical health and my mental health.

After a while, I noticed how I began to breathe irregularly. And in the evening I was completely exhausted. Even though I had spent the whole day at home.

It couldn't go on like this. I started to take breaks. To force myself for breaks. Every hour or after a couple of hours. To go out every now and then. It helps to have a dog. But even without a dog, I stepped outside - doing something different - not digital. For example, digging a small cactus into the sand. And tell you what: I felt better. The pandemic taught me to take breaks, and I'm definitely going to keep them.

In 2007, we both won a PR-award for an online campaign. It was for a project in Second Life (the early Metaverse), where we opened a virtual flirt office (yes, you could virtually march into this office with your avatar, book a consultant, and ask for tips for your first date – “well, the good old days”). So Lukas, you've been creative in digital communications for over 15 years now. And you are coming up with innovative ideas over and over again. How do you do it? What do you need to be creative?

I need the city. The hustle and bustle, the experiences of walking through city streets and the randomness of life. No TikTok or Instagram can replace this. And also the peace and tranquility of Portugal, where you can plant a small cactus, can't replace that.

Every new idea is to some extent an old idea. My ideas are never really 100 percent "my ideas". Every idea is based on someone else's idea. That's why I need an active, busy environment. People around me and the city - where ideas are actually on the street.*

And stop! Very important, of course: music! Music is my pill. Nothing works without the right music.**

The pandemic is over, but the world has gone crazy, hasn't it? We struggle with climate change, war, energy crisis, inflation, political disagreements, and so on. Everything somehow becomes more complicated and difficult, right? We may not be engineers or scientists. We are "just" communications professionals, but we too have an obligation to care and make the world a little bit better. How do you see that and what is your contribution to it?

I stay away from online-discussions. Yes, I mean that quite seriously – especially as I am The Digital Guide. And that’s my contribution to making the world a little better.

I have been observing the culture of debate on social media for over 15 years now. And we all know that it's not in a good state. It's best to stay away from complicated discussions online. Sounds obvious, right? And yet I keep falling into the trap myself – from time to time. Provoked or motivated by a comment … I respond. Just to learn – again – that the reaction to my comment is not what I expect. Stupid me. Debates on the net are not a dialog. They are “shout outs”, keynotes, presentations. They are made for a larger audience.

Every answer to a blogpost, a LinkedIn comment, an Instagram -story - no matter how personal or individual - is always negotiated on a big stage. That´s the reason why this kind of response mostly is disproportionately friendly, witty, ironic, sarcastic, or spiteful. These are no answers to a single person. These answers address an audience of hundreds or even thousands – not you.

Debate online doesn't work. And therefore my advice: stay out of it. “Less is more” - that's my philosophy of life anyway.


*”Every idea builds on another idea” - Lukas comment reminds me of Kurby Ferguson “Everything is a Remix.” - Have a look into this website and video essays.

**Because music is so important to Lukas, I asked him for his “creative playlist". Whenever you are looking for innovation or ideas, try these twosoundtracks of "The Digital Guide" – on Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1EIXIbvRG4mqO5?si=370b0c610ae44534 https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1EQp9BVPsNVof1?si=c2192346ec7b41ed

About #100K

In 2023 Ketchum - an international communications network - celebrates its 100th anniversary. This makes it probably the oldest communications agency in the world. I´ve worked more than 25 years at Ketchum and learned so much at this agency. I am thankful for this time and the many colleagues and friends I´ve met there. So I´ll take this as an opportunity to meet old Ketchum-friends. And ask them some fundamental questions. Thanks toLukas, Linda Eatherton, Gustav Averbuj, Sabine Stadel-Strauch, Gesine Märten and Martin Dambacher.

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