25-Year Anniversary at Screenworks

by Eyes & Ears of Europe

For 25 years, the creative agency in the heart of Cologne has withstood all the weather conditions of the media landscape, impressed with its unique breadth, and grown with every challenge. This calls for a celebration.

Throwing a party seems obvious. However, the partners Olaf Wicke, Matthias Lehnigk, Peter Hirdes, and Tobias Varola prefer to get personal. They want to thank the people they rely on day in and day out: their employees. To celebrate the anniversary, they are inviting the entire team on a four-day company outing—an outing in the literal sense. The destination is a surprise. The secret will be revealed only on the day of departure.

A quarter of a century—looking back, it's incredible. Managing Director Olaf Wicke recalls the time of the company's founding: “We all came from very different backgrounds, and it was quite a gamble to take a chance on each other. The 25 years are proof to me that the risk was worth it.

Among the co-founders was Björn Klimek, who later became Creative Director and Head of Marketing at RTL. His Screenworks successor, Tobias Varola, Head of the Graphics Department, is the youngest in the group: “It's quite special that in all this time, there have only been five partners. I only joined in 2004, but if I had to describe the essence of Screenworks in just one word, it would be: trust.

Head Producer Peter Hirdes is proud of the company's development: “In the beginning, there were only four of us, and we were exclusively focused on on-air promotion. Now we have 28 people, including our own graphics department with eleven full-time employees. We've kept up with so many developments: from on-air to online, title design to 3D animation, radio spots to podcasts... In 25 years, so much has changed. And we've taken on and mastered every challenge.”

Of course, there have been tough times too. During the financial crisis and the pandemic, Screenworks had to show resilience. Is there a recipe for success? Olaf Wicke doesn’t hesitate: “Many clients have remained loyal to us from the very beginning. With this trust, and also thanks to strategic partners, we were able to diversify and build an internal team, essentially creating our own brand. This has allowed us to achieve and maintain a certain independence.

As a reliable source of innovative, high-quality work, Screenworks can look back on many highlights, such as the feature film "Viel passiert – Der BAP-Film" directed by Wim Wenders, or the clips produced for over ten years for the German Television Award, the Golden Camera, the GQ Award, the Bambi Awards, and the Bavarian Television Award.

That the 25 years have also led to personal enrichment is noted by Head Producer Matthias Lehnigk: “We’ve become more confident, stronger, and faster. But we still take our jobs just as seriously as on the very first day. And what we learn professionally also makes us smarter in our personal lives.

Regarding future aspirations, the four partners agree: “Growing bigger is not our goal. It's about nurturing new talent, passing on the Screenworks spirit, fostering new ideas and impulses. The topic of AI doesn’t scare us—on the contrary. We clearly recognize its potential as a form of integration and support. But the benchmark for us will always be human intelligence. After all, it’s what has brought us to where we are today.

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