Last month we featured a viral we quite liked. It was made by Khanna\Reidinga, a new agency in town, for the fictitious brand Boss Noodles, an autonomous project to generate some PR around the launch of their hotshop. Rikki Khanna (right in picture) and Hesling Reidinga worked at AKQA Amsterdam and Pool Worldwide respectively. They met already a while ago, but only recently when both were quitting their jobs they met up for a coffee and decided to work together. Today they are busy, working on several Dutch and international brands. We were eager to learn more about Khanna\Reidinga.

First of all, please tell us a little about yourselves
Reidinga:
I co-founded Pool Worldwide. And last year I decided I was ready for a new challenge.
Khanna:
I worked at AKQA for a decade or so. Worked in London, Washington DC, and San Francisco before, in 2006, I had the opportunity to found an office in Amsterdam.

How did you meet?
Khanna:
In 2005 AKQA considered taking over Pool – at the time a small hotshop in Amsterdam. Our agency had several meetings with Pool. In the end though the AKQA management decided to start an agency in Amsterdam from scratch and grow it organically. When I moved to Amsterdam a year later to start up the office, the chiefs at AKQA told me; you should meet up with the guys from Pool, they’ll sort you out. So I did. And it clicked straight away. I remember telling my wife at night; “I met these really inspiring people.” I even considered joining them at that time.

Why did the merger not happen?
Reidinga:
We were extremely flattered that AKQA was interested in us, but we were having too much fun and didn’t really want to change the name of our agency. So we politely declined.

So then Khanna\Reidinga. How did that happen?
Reidinga:
We coincidently quit our jobs around the same time. Then we had a coffee – as you do – and our views on advertising aligned so well that I think we more or less instantly decided to start an agency together.

What’s your roles in the agency
Reidinga:
We meet in the middle. Khanna is planner with a creative touch. And I’m a strategic art director.
Khanna:
I think strategists and creatives make great teams. I used to look at what Michael Harris and Scott Duchon did for Xbox at McCann San Francisco. They inspired me to team up with a creative at some point.

What is the proposition of your new agency?
Reidinga:
Ideas that last. Not some short term thingy, but something with continuous potential. And I believe strongly in the power of social media. So they should play an important role in all of what we do.
Khanna:
I always say that we should pay equal attention to what brands want from consumers as to what consumers want from brands. You can present yourself to the client with 50 intelligent slides explaining how wonderful you are, but consumers don’t see this presentation. What you mainly need is chemistry within the agency, with your client, and of course eventually with the consumer. And, to be honest, in the end the most important difference between agencies is good work and bad work.

In the end the most important difference between agencies is good work and bad work

I think you’ve so far released only one piece of advertising; the viral ‘eat noodles like a boss.’ Not really what you call an ‘idea that lasts.’
Reidinga:
Of course this was to win some short term exposure. But it was built on an idea that already exists for a while. There’s a cartoon [posted as comment underneath the post, AAB] that has become a meme. People have copied and executed it in endless forms. We thought: “Let’s take this all the way.” We are hoping that it proofs that we understand today’s culture and media.

How’s the business going?
Khanna:
It’s going very well. We’ve won several pitches, across the globe. Recently we won Axe/Lynx in New York together with PR agency Edelman.

A PR agency?
Reidinga:
Agencies are becoming more and more PR minded and vice versa. And the briefs for both kind of agencies are also starting to look more similar. That’s because seeding has become so important in spreading the word.

Any other projects?
Khanna:
We are currently working on a new ‘Car 2 Go’ campaign and also do work for G-Star, Starbucks, and Really Good. This week we released a campaign for the GGD [Association of Community Health Services, AAB].

Really good?
Reidinga:
That’s a raw juice brand. We’re getting paid in juice, which is so much better than money, cause we feel healthier than ever [they both laugh, AAB]. And it’s fun. When we were in New York recently for the Axe pitch we spent most of the time doing research. It’s quite interesting to see what is happening there on the fresh juice market. It felt like visiting the future.
Khanna:
What’s really ‘refreshing’ is that I don’t have to drink beer after client meetings anymore [Khanna worked on Heineken and Diageo for years, AAB]. We now drink fruit juice, which never gives you a hangover.
Reidinga:
And we also serve it to other clients. They always ask us: “where can we buy this stuff?!”
Khanna:
And that’s what we like about our current client portfolio. It’s all brands with an honest story. It’s so much easier to be able to tell a good story, than having to put lipstick on a pig.

You sound quite busy. How many people are you now?
Reidinga:
We work with a network of talented people – many of which are freelancers. But interestingly enough so far we have hardly worked with advertising people. Instead we work with directors, bloggers, and other non-traditional thinkers.
Khanna:
Sorry, I’d love to continue this interview, but I am afraid we should attend to a meeting at Schiphol in half an hour. Do you mind?
Reidinga:
Are we taking a cab?