Mattijs's Lens

Mattijs Devroedt
  • Managing director
  • Strategic planning director

Mattijs helps direct monopo’s creative power in the direction that will make the biggest impact on a brand’s business. A strategist by trade, Mattijs has worked with brands across the world to help them be themselves in markets that are often not their own. Having started his career as an advertising strategist in Belgium, Mattijs moved to London in 2012 to join Ogilvy and later adam&eveDDB. In 2016, Mattijs joined Wieden+Kennedy in Tokyo where he has helped brands like Nike, IKEA, Audi and Airbnb find their feet in the Japanese and Korean markets as Strategic Planning Director. In 2019, Mattijs joined monopo to set up the London branch together with Mélanie.

Duke of fries Christmas baby Belgium → UK → Japan → UK Japanese vintage pencil collector Andrew Garfield lookalike

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question 1

What do you want to see more or less of in the creative industry?

Less hostility towards clients and more collaboration instead. It has always felt strange to me how agencies tend to create a divide between themselves and the client. A sort of arrogance around being the owner of the ultimate truth. I’ve always loved the true and honest conversations you can have with a client and (contrary to common agency beliefs) it has never hurt creative work. Closer collaboration always leads to better work. So I would love to see more collaborative relationships between agencies/creatives and clients. That’s in any case what we try to do, and we love it.

question 2

How has living in Japan influenced your work? What did you learn from your time in Japan?

I loved the sense of “collective creativity”. The apparent lack of internal competition and instead a genuine drive to work together and contribute your personal perspective and talent to a project, no matter what your title might be. It just felt so different from what I was used to in Europe, where team members look to out-do each other rather than work together. 

This collective effort was really inspiring to me, and definitely something I wanted to bring into monopo london. It can sometimes be confusing to new members that their job is not limited to their title, but I feel like people get the swing of it very quickly and are trying out things they would never have thought of before they know it.

A common misconception about collectivity, by the way, is the impression that it means that everybody just works to the lowest common denominator. What I witnessed was quite the opposite. In “collective creativity”, every individual contributes their very own perspective, which leads to richer, more diverse ideas. Things you wouldn’t think of on your own.

question 3

How did you start your vintage pencil collection?

Haha, it’s pretty niche, I know. I came across vintage boxes of pencils in a flea market in Tokyo and the artwork on the boxes was just amazing. They looked like beautiful old street signs, with fantastic typography and vibrant colors, but they were small and affordable. The perfect item to spend a few yen on. A week later I noticed that some of those old designs (Google Tombow 8900 for example) were still sold currently so I got intrigued to find out more. Many internet rabbit holes, pencil podcasts (Google the Erasable podcast) and offline flea markets later, I had purchased an amount of vintage pencils that would have to be considered a collection. Now, whenever I travel, I check out local flea markets to find local vintage pencils.

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