German Agency Thjnk Dares to Pitch Bono at Cannes…and Wins

By Shawn Paul Wood 


Never underestimate the power of chutzpah.

Oddly enough, it took a German ad man to prove that point. One of the last stories from Cannes-Lions making its way into the headlines concerns the bold actions of Michael Trautmann, CEO of German-based Thjnk.


ICYMI, Bono was discussing AIDS awareness and his foundation (RED) when he brought Jony Ive, Apple Design SVP, on stage and gave the backhanded compliment heard ’round the hipster nation. Following the applause and passing of the Kool-Aid at Genius Bars, Trautmann did the unthjnkable.

And it worked.

First, here’s that quote lauding Apple:

“One of the reasons it’s such a credit to have Jony Ive on the stage is because Apple is so f*@king annoyingly quiet about the fact they’ve raised $75 million,” the singer said at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France earlier this week, according to Adweek.

Bono noted lightheartedly that while Apple has been a champion in the fight against AIDS, Steve Jobs refused to put the singer’s signature (Red) campaign branding in any Apple stores. “This is the Apple way. They’re like a religious cult.”

The thing that has been overlooked following that bulletin board material is what happened after this — Bono asked for suggestions and ideas to boost (RED). A few ideas came and went, and then Trautmann began “gesticulating wildly” toward the end of the session.

“He smiled at me, stood up and came over,” recalled Michael Trautmann, co-founder of German agency thjnk and the man who had been waving at Ive. “I passed my iPhone to my neighbor to take some pictures, and just as [moderator and Vice CEO Shane Smith] was about to end the session, Jonathan helped me pitch .hiv to Bono.

A branded URL was all it took. (RED) is going to be the first organization to receive the .hiv URL next month — and that’s out of 10,000 global organizations vying for it. This is about to be a global campaign that will involve ad and PR work.

If you are interested in AdWeek’s interview with Trautmann, read more in this story. Or just watch this video: